Entrepreneur workshop slated at Edinburg Mill

EDINBURG – A bevy of local, regional and state agencies and organizations have partnered with Abingdon-based People Incorporated of Virginia to host an entrepreneurship workshop at the Edinburg Mill on Thursday.

Leslie Currle, business development manager at the People Incorporated Woodstock branch, said, “The main focus of (the workshop) is to connect the community with all these different resource partners they may not be aware of.”

The list of partners for this workshop, called Entrepreneur Express: Moving Your Business Forward,  includes the Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center, both the Shenandoah County and Strasburg Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

The program is aimed at providing resources for people looking to get small businesses off the ground within the Northern Shenandoah Valley Region – specifically Shenandoah County.

“The ultimate goal is to create jobs in these areas,” Currle said. “We chose Edinburg as the location just because it is central in Shenandoah County.”

Currle, who has been with People Inc. for about a year, said, “Obviously, we want to target the entire region, but this program, we wanted to specifically help Shenandoah.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration classifies small or medium-sized businesses as having between 500 or fewer employees, with some industries requiring employment of 1,000 or fewer for that classification.

The latest community profile data from the Virginia Employment Commission reported that 635 of the 1,037 employers – or 61 percent – in Shenandoah County for 2014 employed between zero and four employees.

“I think there’s a need for small business and more businesses, specifically in some towns more than others,” Currle said.

James Kraft, director of the Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center, said, “We try to give (people) a realistic approach of just how hard it really is to start a business.”

One of the biggest hurdles that entrepreneurs face, Kraft noted, is receiving the financing to get a business off the ground.

“Banks don’t lend to a lot of start-ups, so there’s ways to make that work,” Kraft said, noting that most small businesses get the initial financing through “friends and family money.”

“A lot of people use credit cards to start a business. They’ll get these zero percent credit cards and use that to get the capital,” he said. “You have to be willing to risk. Some of them use the equity in their house.”

Thursday’s Entrepreneur Express Workshops are part of a series of workshops that People Inc. is looking host throughout the valley, Currle said.

For example, the company recently signed a partnership with Google to help businesses in individual towns boost their visibility in searches on the site. People, Inc. hosted an event for businesses in Woodstock recently.

“The program is helping these small businesses and be found online, and then different tactics they can use to grow their businesses online,” Currle said, adding that they will be hosting a Google workshop in Front Royal on Sept. 16.

People, Inc. and its partners will also be hosting a workshop for Page County in Stanley from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday.

IF YOU GO: The entrepreneur workshop will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Edinburg Mill, 214 S. Main St., Edinburg.  Admission is free. Pre-registration is required.  Information, registration: call Leslie Currie at 540-333-6704 or visit www.vastartup.org/events/1204.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com