ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Community stakeholders all throughout central Virginia are pooling their money to help small businesses and startups get off the ground. An inaugural accelerator program through GO Virginia aims to help 20 new businesses over the next two years.

The accelerator program, Catalyst, is a joint venture by GO Virginia, the University of Virginia, the city of Charlottesville, and Albemarle County. Applications are set to open August 1 and the selected teams will receive access to all the resources they need to grow their companies.

“The return on investment should we expect it to be really important for our community,” said Shannon Holland, director of GO Virginia Region 9.

GO Virginia Region 9 is putting up $475,000 over the next two years to help central Virginia startups continue to grow. The University of Virginia, city of Charlottesville, and Albemarle County are teaming up to match that $475,000 too.

“It’s going to fill the gap in our entrepreneurship ecosystem that really is going to provide tons of opportunity for growth in our area,” said Holland

Ten early-stage businesses will be selected in year one, and 10 in year two.

David Touve, with the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, said the ideal applicants for that Catalyst program are companies in technology, food, and beverage, or light manufacturing fields.

“In all cases, they should be high growth scalable ventures,” said Touve.

Each team will receive $20,000 in funding along with access to other resources like this rent-free workspace on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall as well as mentorship, educational programming, website development tools, networking opportunities with investors.

“We want to provide them with a set of resources that can help them sort of getting through their next stage or earliest stages of growth,” said Touve.

Applications officially open August 1, 2019. To apply, you can click here.

For the teams that do not get selected, program administrators plan to help them by connecting them to other community resources that can help them improve their startups.