Richlands business-growth program wraps up first iteration

RICHLANDS, Va. (WVVA) – Pop-Up Richlands, a business-growth initiative led by Richlands, Va.’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) wrapped up Thursday, April 28 as participants pitched business plans to a panel of three judges.

Beginning March 24, Pop-Up Richlands offered participants 5 weeks of business classes followed by the opportunity to pitch one’s own business plan to a panel of out-of-town judges. Up to three groups can be selected to receive $5,000 in “reimbursement grant package” funds to use toward their own business.

“It has been a very, very good learning tool,” said Jaci Barrett, Pop-Up Richlands participant. “They have provided a lot of resources that I didn’t know were available or that even existed.”

Barrett owns The Bleachy Mama, a women’s clothing store in Richlands. She said she opened up shop in 2020 with no experience in business — and appreciates Pop-Up Richlands’ range of offerings.

“Whenever I first opened I honestly had no idea,” said Barrett. “If I would have had this or any of these resources it would have been completely different.”

While participants presented business plans in hopes of being selected above others to receive $5,000 in funding on Thursday, all involved said they’re on the same team.

“All of us are working together, we all truly like each other,” said Barrett. “I have tried my best to help anyone, I’ve answered questions, I’ve told people about different storefronts that are for rent. If you build each other up, the better you all do in the long run.”

“One thing was very prevalent,” said Blake Ray, Chair of Richlands’ IDA. “They are already working together with each other to help each other be successful. And as we grow as a community in Richlands, that’s the key to everything. We have to work together, we have to be able to lean on each other when we need help and that’s apparent in this group.”

Ray said the IDA plans to continue Pop-Up Richlands moving forward.

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