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Staunton Grant to Go to Start-Ups

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Staunton is using a $200,000 state grant to create a new SPARC PLUG loan program for women, minority, and low-income entrepreneurs to start-up businesses in the city.

George Bowers Grocery owner Brian Wiedemann cashed in on a small business loan from the Staunton Creative Community Fund in 2008 to get the start-up money he needed to open the Newtown store.

"Just having that capital available to us just to get the things we needed in here just to get it started, the more the better," Wiedemann said.

SCCF and Staunton Economic Development directors announced receiving the $200,000 grant Tuesday inside the Grocery. The SPARC PLUG program stands for Support, Promote, And Revitalize Communities Providing Loans to Underserved Groups.

"We have a focus, a mission, and a dedication to support those entrepreneurs that may not have been able to access funds through more traditional sources," SCCF Director Meghan Williamson said.

The grant will pay for business planning, consulting, and capital loans. Williamson hopes this money energizes Staunton's entrepreneurial spirit even in tough times.

"Many of our small businesses are working together, are jointly marketing, and are supporting each other even as they seek to grow, expand, and change," said Williamson.

Wiedemann believes the SPARC funds will open up new opportunities and storefronts for his Newtown neighbors.

"Newtown is a socio-economically diverse neighborhood, and I really firmly believe the businesses that operate here should reflect that," Wiedemann said.

Reported by Matt Talhelm
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