Businesses set to kick off RevUp ShenCo competition

Business owners of the present and future will come together Wednesday evening for a night of interactive training, kicking off this year’s RevUp ShenCo competition.

In 2016, the Town of Strasburg partnered with the Department of Housing and Community Development and People Inc. to apply for the Community Business Launch Grant. RevUp Strasburg, a competition designed to help new businesses get started, was created with the grant money.

The following year RevUp Strasburg expanded the competition to include 65 participants — including both start-ups and existing businesses. The 2017 effort included  Strasburg as well as Shenandoah County and the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce. In an attempt to refine its approach, RevUp Strasburg was re-branded RevUp Marketing.

“Last year we wanted to throw the net farther,” said Michelle Bixler, Strasburg economic development and marketing manager. “So all of us came together and called it RevUp Marketing last year, thinking we were going to focus every year on different aspects.”

Wednesday’s kickoff event will give business owners a taste of what they can expect over the course of the RevUp ShenCo competition that starts Sept. 26.

Wednesday night’s event is associated with RevUp ShenCo and the Department of Housing and Community Development, but businesses are not required to attend to be eligible for the competition.

The training focuses on “maximizing long-term profitability with efficient and friendly interactions,” according to a news release. The DHCD is presenting this training throughout the state.

Originally, only Strasburg was invited to participate on Wednesday night because of its participation in the Community Business Launch grant in 2016. However, Bixler extended the invitation to other cities in Shenandoah County.

“Studies show that most of the business growth we experience are actually from existing businesses,” Bixler said about the value trainings like this add to the community. “Not necessarily me going out and recruiting large industries to come into the town. It’s going to come from our businesses that are already here and expanding.”

In order to help local businesses expand, RevUp ShenCo will build on last year’s marketing success.

“Last year we did broadly marketing,” Bixler said. “This year we are focusing down on digital marketing.”

Five digital marketing workshops will take place beginning in September. The workshops will focus on areas including design, social media and branding. Businesses will develop a digital marketing plan throughout the competition. After the final workshop on Oct. 24, competitors will put the finishing touches on their plans before presenting them to a panel of judges. The winner will receive funding to implement their plan.

“I’ve noticed the people that are coming into our office to receive help are better prepared,” Bixler said. “The folks that are coming in now seem better prepared to start their business or expand their business. And I like to think it’s because of education that’s available to them.”

Wednesday’s event will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in the Shenandoah County Government Center boardroom. More info can be found at shenandoahcountychamber.com/event-3020378.