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BLK RVA serves as year-round source for celebrating black history and culture in region

While Black History Month may be over, Richmond Region Tourism is reminding the community that the BLK RVA campaign serves as a resource to honor and celebrate Black culture and Black-owned businesses every day of the year. 

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While Black History Month may be over, Richmond Region Tourism is reminding the community that the BLK RVA campaign serves as a resource to honor and celebrate Black culture and Black-owned businesses every day of the year.

Richmond Region Tourism and a group of community-driven leaders launched BLK RVA in 2019 to develop unique ways to amplify local Black-owned businesses by increasing tourism, engaging regional residents and showcasing spaces that highlight Black excellence.

BLK RVA’s website includes an overview of attractions and historical sites that center the Black experience, as well as Black-owned tourism-related businesses and restaurants in the region.

Earlier this year, BLK RVA welcomed a new group of community leaders to its Advisory Board. The Board provides direction for the program, while helping to grow community involvement and building the BLK RVA brand.

Organizers are committed to launching four local marketing campaigns in 2021 that will spotlight each of BLK RVA’s main pillars: history, community, arts & entertainment, and food & drink.

The first campaign focused on Black history in the region launched last month and included BLK RVA trivia challenges, scavenger hunts at historic attractions, limited edition t-shirts designed by local artist J Ford and visual strategist Shannon Bass, and a section of the website dedicated to historic resources and video content from community leaders. The videos aim to connect viewers to the past, celebrate the present and look toward the future and will release over the coming weeks.

The first two profiles in the series feature Omilade Janine Bell, Elegba Folklore Society’s President and Artistic Director and Free Bangura, Founder & CEO of Untold RVA, Chair of the City of Richmond’s History and Culture Commission, and BLK RVA Advisory Team Co-Chair.

Ryano Graphics, a local communications and design firm, is leading planning and execution for the marketing campaigns.

“We’re creating authentic and thoughtful marketing campaigns that highlight and celebrate the Black experience,” said Tameka Jefferson, Richmond Region Tourism’s Community Relations Manager. “Black contributions to Richmond’s culture dates back centuries, and our restaurants, businesses and legacies continue to thrive in our region. We look forward to rolling out the videos and engaging residents and visitors with the BLK RVA campaign throughout 2021.”

In addition to 2021 marketing programming, BLK RVA is introducing initiatives that build capacity and expertise at Black-owned businesses. The organization has partnered with Capital One to create mentorship programs for Black-owned businesses. BLK RVA also recently hosted a Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned Business (SWaM) certification training in partnership with VCU’s Department of Procurement, the Department of Small Business & Supplier Diversity, and the Metropolitan Business League. Part two and three of the SWaM certification training will be hosted in April and May.

“My small business has greatly improved with the resources and support from BLK RVA and the mentorship program with Capital One,” said Keshia Bell-Rainey, owner of Bodies N Motion, LLC.  “I have access to great mentors to help with marketing and ideas for creating revenue. I would definitely recommend this program to small Black-owned businesses.”

Organizers are also offering a training course March 15 to help caterers and food service professionals navigate procurement and corporate contracts. Two participating businesses will have a chance to win $2,000 supply stipends to support recovery efforts. Eligible participants must register by March 12 to attend the two-part course.

“By learning and growing from industry experts, local Black entrepreneurs will be able to arm themselves with the skills needed to recover, rebuild and thrive,” added Jefferson.

BLK RVA received national recognition last December when The New York Times featured Omilade Janine Bell and the Elegba Folklore Society in Five Kwanzaa Celebrations Around the Country.

In January, BLK RVA collaborated with Nomadness, an award-winning lifestyle brand that supports underrepresented demographics in mainstream travel, for two well-received panel sessions during the virtual Audacity DIGI 4 event that showcased Richmond. The “BLK RVA: Why Richmond needs to be on your radar!,” session featured videos highlighting BLK RVA and Richmond’s artistic landscape that continues to evolve in response to the social justice movement, comments from Enjoli Moon about the region and campaign, and remarks from Hamilton Glass about the Mending Walls mural project.

Richmonder Melody Short also participated in the panel discussion, “Keeping Small Businesses Alive” giving an overview of the Richmond Night Market and the Jackson Ward Collective.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.

Business

PHOTOS: Grow @1717 Accelerator honors childcare businesses in Richmond

Capital One Financial Corp (COF) this week recognized seven licensed home base childcare providers for their completion of the [email protected] Accelerator, a 12-week small business program designed to help strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem and elevate the Richmond region as a destination for innovation.

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Capital One Financial Corp (COF) this week recognized seven licensed home base childcare providers for their completion of the [email protected] Accelerator, a 12-week small business program designed to help strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem and elevate the Richmond region as a destination for innovation.

Cohort members received $5,000 in funding to support business stabilization and growth, along with a business needs assessment, 90-minute learning workshops, skills-based support from COF associates, and a network of peer mentors. The cohort was selected and funded in partnership with ChildSavers, a non-profit that provides children’s mental health services and childcare resources to Richmond residents.

“We know that family day home care is the most common form of childcare in this country, but oftentimes, home-based providers are the most overlooked for support as small business owners,” said Toria Edmonds-Howell, Community Engagement Manager for the Capital One 1717 Innovation Center. “The Grow @1717 program was designed to meet emerging needs within our region, and as Richmond childcare providers continue to experience the impacts of the pandemic, we want to help.”

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Photos: Michael Simon Photography

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Arts & Entertainment

Local rapper launches new creative and co-op work space downtown

A grand opening for the new space, CNTR, will be held 5-10 p.m. Friday, November 4th, coinciding with the Arts District’s First Fridays event.

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A new retail, creative and co-working space named CNTR opens next month in Richmond’s Arts District.

Located at 318 W. Broad St., the 3,408-square-foot space also is home to theMSQshop, which opened earlier this year. It provides brand design, creative content services and a recording and production studio.

Owner and Creative Director Will Keck, who performed for 15 years in Richmond as OG ILLA, aims to provide a resource for creatives and a safe, welcoming space for Richmond’s hip-hop and R&B culture.

“I want to encourage young artists and entrepreneurs in our community,” Keck says. “CNTR is here as a resource, business incubator, and place to elevate their work through business education.”

CNTR is available for bookings as well — for pop-ups, shows, events, workshops, conferences, and video and photo production.

The business venture, powered by theMSQshop, also includes a retail shop featuring Virginia-based streetwear, an art gallery showcasing local artists, and a co-working space that includes Richmond’s first black-owned hemp company.

A grand opening for CNTR will be held 5-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, coinciding with the Richmond Arts District’s First Fridays.

The free event will feature pop-ups from local vendors, an art exhibit with work from ErvEyes, JAE, Paris and Khaos Ky, and music performances by Rudy Walker, Era Hardaway, Machine Mook, OG Souul, illwilliam and Hannah Grace.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Business

BigWife’s Mac and Cheese food truck now open while construction continues on brick-and-mortar space

Menu items include a Buffalo Mac, Little Figgy Mac, Greek Wedding Mac, and Mac Lorraine, in addition to a few salads and a giant cookie – aptly named the “Big Ass Cookie.”

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A new food option coming to Scott’s Addition has set up shop in a food truck while construction continues on its brick-and-mortar operation.

BigWife’s Mac & Cheese is now operating a food truck located at 1017 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard, next to Starbucks. A storefront in the same location is expected to open later this year in the former Growlers To Go.

Menu items include a Buffalo Mac, Little Figgy Mac, Greek Wedding Mac, and Mac Lorraine, in addition to a few salads and a giant cookie – aptly named the “Big Ass Cookie.”

This is a new restaurant concept from John and Jayme Taxin, owners of Bookbinder’s Seafood and Steakhouse. The couple first tested the waters as a pop-up operating during the pandemic and, after its success, decided to expand to this new location.

Online orders for pickup can be placed here. The truck is serving Mondays through Saturdays beginning at 4:00 PM.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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