- Business Assistance
- Featured Businesses
- 14 Ways We Show Love to Your Business
14 Ways We Show Love to Your Business
By Melissa James, York County Contributor
How does York County love you? Let us count the ways! In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting 14 ways the Department of Economic and Tourism Development (ETD) shows love to local businesses—from no-cost programs and services to grant money. Learn more about these fabulous freebies your business might be missing out on!
For even more information, download our Programs and Services brochures
or check out more details on Business Services and Incentive Programs pages.
- #1: Expansion Expenses
- #2 Grand Openings & Ribbon Cuttings
- #3: Sharing Your Good News
- #4: Websites That Work
Could your business use a little help to get to that next level?
Perhaps a new tool or piece of equipment would allow you to take on more clients, or a new work vehicle might help you serve additional areas? York County’s Business Growth Grant is here to help.
The Business Growth Grant marks the County’s first foray into addressing general business needs— offering up to $2,500 of matching funds for a one-time expense. That expense can be anything from property improvements, to equipment, to professional services. It even includes wish lists that home-based businesses might have, such as purchasing a new computer, tool or digital advertising.
Grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremonies are a great way for new businesses to build awareness.
If you need help planning your grand opening or ribbon cutting event, ETD can help with that. Our staff can work with the local Board of Supervisors and check their availability to offer comments at the event, provide the ceremonial ribbon and oversized scissors, and even attend the event to take photos and assist with publicity. For more information please contact our office.
Any business owner knows, the best kind of publicity is FREE publicity.
To help promote our new businesses and provide them with as much publicity as possible, all new business license recipients are listed on the ETD website. ETD also provides a marketing idea sheet, which gives business owners tips for further promoting their company.
The free publicity isn’t just for the County’s new businesses though. We offer plenty of exposure opportunities for existing companies as well! Each month, several businesses are featured in original articles, images and videos on the ETD website, e-news and social media pages. If you’d like your business to be considered for an upcoming article, photo shoot or video clip, let us know via email.
- Did you or your business recently receive an award or special recognition?
- Are you changing your location or adding new products and services?
- Do you have an upcoming event and want to let the locals know all about it?
Whatever your news may be, ETD wants to hear about it. Our office shares local business announcements, accolades and specials to let citizens and visitors know what’s happening in the County. Business owners are encouraged to submit news and accolades to be posted on the ETD website and social media pages.
Having a positive, customer-focused online presence is an important part of running a successful business.
If you need a new business website, to add online payments/shopping to your existing site, or need help with social media page promotion, cybersecurity-related expenses or search engine optimization, our E-Commerce Grant Program is for you!
This grant was created to encourage York County businesses to create or enhance their online presence—a necessary step in today's economic environment. Fifty percent matching grants, up to $500 per business (or $1,000 for minority and women-owned businesses), are available.
- #5: Mentors and Money
- #6: Dollars for New Digs
- #7: Façade Facelifts or Total Teardowns
- #8: Networking Opportunities
Do you have a unique idea for a product or service, but aren’t sure how to get it off the ground?
To support a healthy local entrepreneurial environment and encourage innovative new business development in York County, ETD partners with several entrepreneurial organizations, including START Peninsula and Launchpad Greater Williamsburg Business Incubator. These regional groups offer programs and services such as entrepreneurial training opportunities, identifying where to turn for startup funds, pitch competitions, discounted office space and experienced mentors to help entrepreneurs and inventors get started the right way.
Looking for a new commercial location for your business?
From lease terms to zoning rules and traffic counts to permit applications, the process can be overwhelming. Our knowledgeable team can help. ETD staff members are familiar with the County’s many commercial spaces, shopping centers and industrial parks. Our office also has access to CoStar, the nation’s premier commercial property database, to help you find and properly vet the best spot for your business. We can help identify unique real estate and business partnering opportunities, as well as provide demographic, consumer spending and traffic data.
If you’re a home-based business that’s ready to make the transition from your house to a commercial location, our Home-based Business Transition Grant can help. Matching grant funds up to $2,000 per business are available for such uses as the purchase of supplies, equipment or furniture; down-payments toward the lease or purchase of commercial property; and marketing and promotion of your new location.
Are you looking to spruce up the exterior appearance of your commercial property?
Studies show that businesses typically make more profit when their location is updated and visually attractive. York County’s Commercial Corridor Property Improvement Grant may be able to help. Matching grant funds up to $10,000 can be used for a variety of exterior improvements, such as upgraded architectural features, windows, awnings, lighting, hardscaping, landscaping, sidewalks, parking areas and more. This program not only helps to upgrade individual commercial properties, but it also helps to improve the overall appearance of the County’s commercial corridors.
But if your property is beyond repair and needs a total redo, we have a grant for that, too! Our Commercial Property Demolition Grant program provides matching funds up to $20,000 for the demolition costs of dilapidated structures on qualified, underused commercial properties, to help move them to the redevelopment market.
Economic & Tourism Development hosts several networking events for businesses throughout the year.
Annual events, such as our Regional Business Appreciation Reception and the York County Distinguished Business Affair, honor and recognize local businesses for their contributions to our community and provide excellent networking opportunities for attendees.
Area businesses also enjoy the benefits provided by three regional chambers of commerce! The Virginia Peninsula Chamber, York County Chamber and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber all work to connect member businesses with opportunities that will provide long-term value. Programs and resources are designed to help members build professional relationships, receive legislative advocacy, attend educational workshops, benefit from local visibility, create positive brand association, and access resources for growth. Each chamber offers its own unique set of benefits, networking events and educational opportunities, so check out their websites to see how they can help your business thrive.
- #9: Regular Updates & Tips
- #10: Community Connections
- #11: Creating Qualified Employees
- #12: Advocating for Business-Friendly Processes & Codes
ETD sends out an e-newsletter and a few short e-blasts each month, and makes regular social media posts,
to keep our business community up to date on important news, programs and events. The best way to stay informed is to get connected! Subscribe to our email list and follow us on Facebook @YesYorkVA.
The County’s Public Affairs Office also offers digital Citizen News publications—both weekly and quarterly—to keep locals informed about all County programs and events. Check it out online and sign up for their email list as well.
But we don’t just want you to hear from us… we want (and need) to hear from you, too! Each spring, ETD conducts a survey of local business owners, either home or commercial-based, to help us gauge the current business climate and identify any areas of concern that we can work to address. Help us help you by taking a few minutes to fill out this survey. All feedback is anonymous and is used to develop or improve business assistance efforts and programs that can benefit your business.
Do you need help with a challenging business situation and don’t know where to turn?
While we may not have all the answers, we usually know someone who does! ETD serves as both a matchmaker and information broker by connecting local businesses with the contacts and resources they need to succeed.
- International trade questions? We can connect you with a business coach at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
- 504 financing confusion? The Small Business Development Center counselors have you covered.
- Need one-on-one business counseling? SCORE brings experienced mentors to the table for free.
Whatever your needs, our community likely holds a resource that can help. The ETD partners with and financially sponsors many of these support organizations to bring more opportunities to our business community.
Concerned about finding quality workers, both now and in the future?
Nothing is more important to a region’s economic vitality than a highly skilled workforce. ETD partners with the York County School Division, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, the Virginia Employment Commission, Virginia Peninsula Community College, and other area organizations to identify the workforce needs of local employers, job seekers and youth. We then work to create programs that directly address those needs.
Our partner York County School Division is committed to ensuring all students graduate with the skills and knowledge to be successful and productive citizens in whichever career path they choose. The EngagedIN program connects interested parents, community members, and businesses with schools to share their career experiences or expertise with students.
The Hampton Roads Workforce Council collaborates with economic development entities, educational institutions, local governments and employers to devise innovative strategies to help develop workforce talent. This arrangement benefits businesses and helps establish/advance careers for people of all ages.
Job seekers and employers can also connect with resources through the Virginia Career Works Hampton Center or Williamsburg Center. These locations serve as the cornerstones of a systematic approach to the economic expansion of the Greater Peninsula. Area employers use the facilities of these centers for their training purposes and can contract with Virginia Peninsula Community College for customized training programs. Workers and potential employees can receive training that will sustain them at all levels of their professional and career development.
ETD is responsible for reviewing business-related codes and regulations and advocating for any changes needed to make them more business friendly.
Our staff recommends changes in legislation that can improve the business environment for both new and existing companies. We work with other York County departments to identify challenges to the County’s licensing and permitting processes, and craft potential solutions.
If you or someone you know is embarking on a new commercial site or building development, we encourage you to reach out to us near the beginning of the project. Our staff is happy to serve as a liaison between the various county departments involved in the development process and you, your contractor or your developer, to ensure a smooth and seamless experience. Upon request, we can also help connect existing business owners with knowledgeable staff members in other county departments, such as traffic control, parks and recreation, sheriff, treasurer, public works and the commissioner of revenue.
Many people simply won’t take a chance on a new business without seeing it first.
(Don’t you often wonder what the inside of a business actually looks like before you trek all the way across town to visit?) Google offers a solution with their Street View for Business platform, which lets users explore inside your space.
ETD has a grant program to help defray the costs of having a new virtual tour created for your business. The Google Street View for Business Grant Program offers 50 percent matching grants, up to $500 per business, toward the cost of having panoramic photos of the interior of your business location taken by a Google Trusted Photographer and posted as an interactive tour on Google Maps. By having an interior virtual tour posted of your business, you can show off your digs, while also increasing your search engine rankings and gaining additional online exposure on the Google platform.
In a world where training can get expensive, your County business license gives you access to many free ways to increase your business skills, learn how to save money and more.
Throughout the year, ETD and our partner organizations host educational events, series and seminars for local business owners. We cover an array of topics, from marketing to finances to far beyond.
- Start Peninsula offers entrepreneurship trainings, pitch assistance, mentorship opportunities and the chance to compete for startup funding.
- The Peninsula Home-based Business Network hosts a number of educational and training events focused specifically on the unique needs of home-based businesses.
- The Small Business Development Center offers several webinars and seminars throughout the year to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start or improve their companies.