12 Days of Business Support
Our 12 Days of Gifts for Your Business
By Melissa James, York County Contributor
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Hanukkah or nothing at all, chances are, you know the 12 Days of Christmas song. So, in honor of the ever-popular tune, let's celebrate the 12 gifts York County gives to its businesses—all year long! From no-cost programs and services to grant money, read on to learn more about these fabulous freebies your business might be missing out on!
On the first day of Christmas, my county gave to me... relocation assistance for free
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. Economic & Tourism Development (ETD) staff members are familiar with the County’s many commercial spaces, shopping centers and industrial parks. Our office also has relationships with the County’s many commercial property brokers, 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.
2 Launch Celebrations
On the second day of Christmas, my county gave to me… 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
Grand-opening ceremonies and ribbon cuttings 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 chambers of commerce to schedule speakers for the event
- Provide the ceremonial ribbon and oversized scissors
- Attend the event to take photos and assist with publicity
For more information, please contact our office and check out our Grand Opening Guide.
3 Online Enhancements
On the third day of Christmas, my county gave to me… 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
If you need a new/ improved business website, help with social media promotion or setup for Google Street View, we have a grant for that! Our E-Commerce Grant Program offers a 50% match to your spending on these needs, up to $500 in funding per business (or $1,000 for minority and women-owned businesses). We created this program to encourage York County businesses to develop or enhance their online presence.
Don’t you often wonder what the inside of a business actually looks like before you trek all the way across town to visit? Many people simply won’t take a chance on a new business without seeing it first. Google offers a solution with their Street View for Business platform, which lets users explore inside your space. And ETD has a grant program to help defray the costs of having a virtual tour created for your business.
The Google Street View for Business Grant Program also offers a 50% match (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.
4 Employee Sources
On the fourth day of Christmas, my county gave to me… 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
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:
- York County School Division,
- Hampton Roads Workforce Council
- Virginia Values Veterans V3 Program
- Virginia Peninsula Community College
… and other area organizations to identify the workforce needs of local employers, job seekers and youth. We then support and work to create programs that directly address those needs.
The 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. Its 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. Area employers can use these centers for their training purposes and can contract with Virginia Employment Commission for customized training programs. Workers and potential employees can receive training that will sustain them at all levels of their professional and career development.
5 Types of Trainings
On the fifth day of Christmas my county gave to me 5 types of training… 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
Training can be expensive—but your business license gives you access to many free ways to increase your business skills, improve finances and more. Throughout the year, ETD and its partner organizations host educational events, series and seminars for local business owners. We cover an array of topics, from marketing to finances and far beyond.
- Start Peninsula offers entrepreneurship trainings, pitch assistance, mentorship opportunities and the chance to compete for startup funding.
- Peninsula Home-based Business Network hosts a number of educational and training events focused specifically on the unique needs of home-based businesses.
- Small Business Development Center offers several webinars and seminars throughout the year to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start or improve their companies.
- Retail Alliance unites retailpreneurs through education, collaboration, innovation and a collective voice to support a thriving retail community in Hampton Roads.
- SCORE helps business owners start, grow or successfully exit a business through workshops, events and mentoring programs.
The easiest way to connect with County staff and to learn more about our business assistance opportunities is to sign up for our monthly e-news. You can also visit us at our office, give us a call at (757) 890-3317 or connect with us at upcoming community events. Our services are FREE (funded through tax revenues), and we’re here to help all new and existing businesses grow and thrive.
6 PR Services
On the sixth day of Christmas, my county gave to me 6 PR services… 5 types of training, 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
Any business owner knows that the best kind of publicity is FREE publicity. Often when we contact businesses with a PR opportunity, they are resistant because they think we’re trying to sell them something. But on the contrary, we’re trying to help YOU sell something (whatever your business does!). ETD promotes the long-standing “Keep It In The County” campaign, encouraging citizens to buy local and letting them know how doing so benefits everyone. These efforts on your behalf include:
- Photoshoot: Want professional images of your business? So do we! We’ll send a photographer to take shots, which we both can use in promotional materials.
- Feature video: For our video production arm, we often include testimonials from business owners, and footage of their location/products, staff and happy customers. Let us know if you want to be included in an upcoming feature.
- Feature article: Is your business celebrating a major milestone, expansion or achievement? We want to write about it! We’ll connect you to a professional writer who will interview you and craft a positive, flattering article about your business. You can use this article in your own materials and website, and we’ll post it many places as well!
- Social media: We’re always bragging about our County businesses online! Make sure we know about your events and news, so we can share or link to your posts!
- E-news: Each month we send out a newsletter filled with business tips as well as business spotlights. If we’ve recently done an article or photoshoot at your business, it will be included here. We also might share other opportunities and updates about your business—if we know about them!
- Website inclusion: The ETD’s website, yesyorkcounty.com, features local businesses in a variety of ways:
- New in Town - To help promote our new businesses and provide them with as much exposure as possible, all new business license recipients are listed on the ETD website.
- Business Spotlight – We post videos and articles we’ve created about your business!
If you’d like your business to be considered for an upcoming article, photo shoot or video clip, let us know via email. When is a good time to do this? When your business:
- Received an award or special recognition
- Is changing locations, expanding or adding new products/services
- Has an upcoming event to promote
7 Entrepreneurship Supports
On the seventh day of Christmas, my county gave to me…. 7 entrepreneurship supports, 6 PR services, 5 types of training, 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
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
- Launchpad: Greater Williamsburg Business Incubator
- Tech Center Research Park
- 757 Angels
- Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation
- Innovate Hampton Roads
These regional groups offer programs and services, such as entrepreneurial training opportunities, pitch competitions, discounted office space, experienced mentors to help entrepreneurs and inventors get started the right way and identifying where to turn for startup funds.
8 Networking Opportunities
On the eighth day of Christmas, my county gave to me… 8 networking opportunities, 7 entrepreneurship supports, 6 PR services, 5 types of training, 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
Economic & Tourism Development hosts multiple networking events for businesses throughout the year. Some are annual events that honor and recognize local businesses for their contributions to our community and provide excellent networking opportunities for attendees:
- Business Appreciation Reception (regional)
- Business After Hours (co-hosted with the York County Chamber of Commerce)
- Distinguished Business Affair (York County)
Area businesses also enjoy the many events hosted by three regional chambers of commerce serving York County. 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. Each chamber offers its own unique benefits, networking events and educational opportunities, so check out their websites to see how they can help your business thrive. Members can choose to attend numerous events, some of which include:
- Business Before Hours
- Business After Hours
- Pink Bag Lunches
- Annual award ceremonies
- Legislative roundtables
9 Property Improvements
On the ninth day of Christmas my county gave to me… 9 property improvements, 8 networking opportunities, 7 entrepreneurship supports, 6 PR services, 5 types of training, 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
Are you looking to spruce up the exterior appearance of your commercial property? 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. You can add or upgrade:
- Architectural features
- Monument signage
- 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. 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.
10 Community Connections
On the tenth day of Christmas, my county gave to me… 10 community connections, 9 property improvements, 8 networking opportunities, 7 entrepreneurship supports, 6 PR services, 5 types of training, 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
Do you need help with a challenging business situation and don’t know where to turn? While ETD staff 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.
- Want to connect with a Chamber? We work with not one, not two, but three area chambers of commerce to serve your needs, no matter how big or small they may be. In addition to the York County Chamber, we can connect you to:
- Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce
- Need retail-specific training or even a secret shopper? The Retail Alliance does that and much more.
- Seeking a business loan or referral? The Small Business Administration offers everything from market research to loans.
- Overwhelmed by permits and plans? York County Development Services can help with new site plans, zoning ordinance questions or sign and building permit applications.
- Trying to get certified? If you want to do business with the Commonwealth or get SWAM certified, the Virginia Small Business & Supplier Diversity is the place to start.
Whatever your needs, our community likely has 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.
11 Wishes Grant-ed
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my county gave to me… 11 wishes grant-ed, 10 community connections, 9 property improvements, 8 networking opportunities, 7 entrepreneurship supports, 6 PR services, 5 types of training, 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
Could your business use a little help to get to the 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 that will help your business grow, even for home-based businesses. The grant is here to make your business wish come true, including:
- Property improvements
- Work vehicles
- Professional services
- New computer(s)
- Computer Software
- Computer Hardware
- Digital advertising
- App creation
12 Months of Updates
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my county gave to me… 12 months of updates, 11 wishes grant-ed, 10 community connections, 9 property improvements, 8 networking opportunities, 7 entrepreneurship supports, 6 PR services, 5 types of training, 4 employee sources, 3 online enhancements, 2 launch celebrations and relocation assistance for free
Each month, ETD shares regular news and opportunities with business owners. We send out an e-newsletter and announcement e-blasts, and we make frequent posts to Facebook and LinkedIn, to keep you in the know. In 2024, we will also be mailing a quarterly business newsletter to all licensed businesses in the County, in case you miss our updates through these other channels. The best way to stay informed is to get connected! Subscribe to our email list, follow us on Facebook @YesYorkVA, and connect with us on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/york-etd
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.
We encourage you to take advantage of the many gifts we offer your business, and we look forward to serving you in the new year. From our ETD family to yours, we wish you the brightest of days this holiday season.
For more information, download our Programs and Services brochures.