Shenandoah Valley Guide to Re-Opening Business

Shenandoah Valley Guide to Re-Opening Business

To ensure the safety of our community and to help you navigate the new normal, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, local chambers, and the Business Resilience Task Force came together to create a re-opening business guide. They have included many of the recommendations developed by the Back to Work Virginia Task Force along with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with many other federal, state, and local resources.

The Work Hard. Work Smart. Work Safe. Guide will act as a living document that will updated during this dynamic and changing time, so please give your local Chamber of Commerce immediate feedback.

Bricks and Clicks: Small Business Recovery Program

Bricks and Clicks for Small Business Recovery is a three-part, partnership-driven small business assistance program. It offers training, customized technical assistance, and the opportunity to receive a grant. Through Bricks & Clicks, technical experts will be matched with businesses for one-on-one consultations to help them identify solutions to their challenges. Additionally, grants up to $5,000 will be awarded for digital or bricks-and-mortar improvements designed to help customers feel safe and comfortable when patronizing businesses in-person, and more confident in their online purchases.

Applicants will be asked to discuss “problem statements” or challenges they are now facing in their recovery from the pandemic. The review team will use these statements to match selected applicants with various technical experts (business advisors, interior designers or architects, website developers, marketing experts, etc). These experts will take a deep dive with you into your business and offer customized recommendations and ideas to help your business solve challenges and support your long-term sustainability. When possible, we may match you with multiple experts to get you the support you need.

Most applicants already have an idea of the type of projects for which they would like to request grant funding. Your technical assistance expert can help you fine-tune a strategy for meeting your goals or for ways you can approach completing your project or solving a problem. Past Bricks & Clicks participants have said the deep-dive, personalized technical assistance was an incredibly helpful step in the program and would have had value on its own even if they didn’t get a grant. Grant funds will be reserved for most applicants selected for technical assistance (awards will depend on the proposed project and cost).

What if you already know what your business needs and already did research or consulted with someone? Tell us this in the application so you can bypass the technical assistance step and get permission to submit a grant proposal form. Filling out your application is important – you can get help with another challenge or problem if you’d like technical assistance in another area.

Who can apply?
Small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19, have been in business for at least 1 year, and are located within the boundaries of downtown Harrisonburg are encouraged to apply. Contact if you’re not sure your business falls within these boundaries. Business owners should outline 1-3 problem statements, which could include, but are not limited to:

How to apply?
The Bricks and Clicks application will be made available on Monday, May 18th. All applications must be submitted by Tuesday, May 26th. Selected applicants will be notified by email by May 29th.

You will be asked to connect relevant findings of the customer feedback survey with how local consumer attitudes, preferences, and concerns might impact your business and how your problem statement and/or potential proposed project might address that data.

For full details and application visit

Re-opening Small Business: What Customers Want

From April 23 to May 3, 2020, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Assistance Taskforce distributed a “Customer Feedback Survey on Businesses Reopening” in advance of restrictions on small businesses and mass gatherings lifting in a phased approach in Virginia. This survey intended to learn how area customers feel about a variety of topics related to public health and what influences the decisions they make about the places they go.

The anonymous survey was shared with residents in the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County by the COVID-19 Business Assistance Taskforce members. The team received feedback from 1,677 survey respondents. The results are being shared with Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County small businesses in order to prepare them for welcoming customers back this spring in a way that promotes public health and safety,

“It is clear from the survey responses that people very much want to feel like businesses are making the health of their employees and customers a priority and will continuing following multiple sanitary protocols for quite some time,” says Andrea Dono, executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. “Regardless of when restrictions will be lifted, customers made it known that they will still have concerns about protecting themselves and trusting that a space is safe. The success of businesses will hinge on their ability to respond to those concerns and build their confidence in coming back.”

COVID-19 Business Assistance Taskforce Harrisonburg-Rockingham Business Support Taskforce members include representatives from the City of Harrisonburg Economic Development; Rockingham Department of Economic Development and Tourism; the Shenandoah Valley Partnership; the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SVSBDC); Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance; the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce; the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council; and JMU’s Professional and Continuing Education.

See Survey Results and Takeaways at

Virginia Wifi Hotspot Map | Free, Publicly Available Wifi Hotspots

Free Virginia Wifi Hotspots Map

With the help of local officials, schools, and libraries across Virginia, the Commonwealth Connect team and Virginia Tech have developed an interactive map of free, publicly available wifi hotspots that Virginians can access from a vehicle. Please share this map with your respective networks and constituents who many need access to the internet. Updates will be done weekly they we receive new locations. If you see any free public wifi hotspots missing or listed incorrectly, please email –

You can find the map at

Customer Feedback Survey on Businesses Reopening

The COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Taskforce asks that you take a moment to complete the survey on businesses reopening within our area.Your thoughts on how you might support local safely after Virginia’s stay-at-home order is lifted can help businesses prepare. When that day comes, sharing what would make you feel comfortable dining, shopping, exercising, worshiping and more will help in the planning for welcoming people back. Please take this survey before May 8.

Please note: HDR and our partners are not advocating for businesses to reopen before it is safe to do so, but we would like to make sure they are prepared for that day. Thank you for your help!

You can take the brief Customer Feedback Survey on Businesses Reopening at:

About The Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce is an ad-hoc group convened to coordinate resources, information, and support for the business community in response to the nation’s pandemic. Members include representatives from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, the City of Harrisonburg Economic Development, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SVSBDC), Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, Rockingham Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council.

FY2021 VATI Virtual Input Session with Presentation


The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) hosted a virtual input session on April 14th to discuss the proposed FY2021 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) guidelines and criteria.Another input session will be held on April 23rd. This meeting is free and open to the public. Representatives from units of local government, internet service providers and other interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend.  Once registered, attendees will receive information on how to access the virtual input session. For those who intend to connect by phone, please download a copy of the presentation: 2021 VATI Input Session Presentation.

VATI has an introduced budget of $35 million for FY2021 to implement broadband infrastructure deployment in partnership with units of local government and private internet service providers across the commonwealth.  The funds shall be used to extend service to areas that presently are unserved by any broadband provider.

If you have any questions, contact (804) 371-7003 or

Register for April VATI Input Session

Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce Launches Small Business Grant Program F&M Bank Seeds Fund with $50,000 Donation

F&M Bank Seeds Fund with $50,000 Donation

March 27, 2020 [Harrisonburg, VA] – Less than two weeks ago, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce was formed to coordinate support and resources for businesses in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham area in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Taskforce is pleased to announce a generous donation of $50,000 from F&M Bank to assist small businesses impacted by the pandemic, which will seed the new Harrisonburg-Rockingham Small Business Resilience Grant fund.

“We understand current economic conditions are creating financial challenges for our community, and we want to do everything in our power to help,” said Mark Hanna, F&M Bank President and CEO. “F&M Bank has been part of this community since 1908. We would not be where we are today without the support of local business. It is time for us all to rally behind the small, local business owners who make this community a great place to live and work.”

The Taskforce will begin soliciting grant applications immediately with the goal of getting direct financial support to small businesses in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County within the next few weeks.

Businesses are invited to submit an application to the Chamber of Commerce, and a grant selection committee will begin awarding grants of up to $5,000 until the funds run out. Grants will help businesses with 25 or fewer employees with managing operational costs like payroll, rent, and similar expenses during a time when they are experiencing a reduction in revenue and have limited or no cash flow.

“We know the need for assistance is out there, as the City just awarded $100,000 of our zero-interest small business loans within one week,” said Brian Shull, director of the City’s economic development department. As community members and businesses have been practicing social distancing, fewer customers are spending money and revenue for many businesses has plummeted.

“Some doors may be closed, but that doesn’t mean expenses come to a halt,” says Andrea Dono, executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. “The Taskforce wanted to offer grants so we could get money to businesses quickly.”

During this time, community members are encouraged to support local businesses, which are the backbone of our community. They employ local residents, give back to community organizations, and contribute to our tax base. Individuals can “support local safely” by ordering delivery or placing pick up orders from local restaurants and retailers, buying gift cards, and shopping online. This helps businesses with cash flow today so their doors are open tomorrow. Many local businesses have online stores or will take orders over the phone for shipping or curbside pick-up. Lists of open restaurants and retailers can be found online at Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, many media outlets, and the Rockingham County’s new map found at:

Grant applications and additional information and resources can be found at the following websites:

Make a Donation to the Fund
The Taskforce has partnered with the Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County to accept additional donations for the fund. Gifts may be made online at or by mailing a check to The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg & Rockingham County, P O Box 1068, Harrisonburg, VA 22803. Please note the “Harrisonburg-Rockingham Business Resiliency Fund” on the check.

About The Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce is an ad-hoc group convened to coordinate resources, information, and support for the business community in response to the nation’s pandemic. Members include representatives from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, the City of Harrisonburg Economic Development, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SVSBDC), Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, Rockingham Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council.

About F&M Bank
F&M Bank serves the Shenandoah Valley with 14 full-service branches and a wide variety of financial services including home loans through F&M Mortgage and real estate settlement services and title insurance through VSTitle. Both individuals and businesses find the organization’s local decision-making, and up-to-date technology provide the kind of responsive, knowledgeable, and reliable service that only a progressive community bank can. F&M Bank has grown to over $807 million in assets and over 175 full and part-time employees. Its conservative approach to finances and sound investments, along with excellent customer service, has made F&M Bank profitable and continues to pave the way for a bright future.

Media Contacts:

Frank Tamberrino:

Brian Shull:

Andrea Dono:

Build Season is Open: FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) / Rocktown Robotics

Rocktown Robotics is a community-based FIRST Robotics Competition team, in partnership with JMU X-Labs and open to all students in the area in grades 9-12.

With a set of regulations, budgetary constraints, and limited resources, groups of high school students work together in teams to design, construct, and program industrial-sized robots to play a challenging game against competitors on a field about the size of a basketball court.  It is a real-world engineering challenge in which the students learn teamwork, leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.  Roles incorporate every aspect of a real engineering project, including project and budget management, marketing, communication, and business planning, in addition to learning sophisticated software, programming, electrical, and technical skills.

The 2019 competition season has just begun and runs through April.  The team is currently recruiting new members AND mentors, so please email for more info.  

You can learn more about FIRST Robotics Competition here:


Tracy Tynan Joins CIT as Director of Virginia Center for Unmanned Systems

October 8, 2018 (Herndon, Virginia)

The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced that it has hired Tracy Tynan as the new Director of the Virginia Center for Unmanned Systems. Tynan joins CIT with more than 15 years of economic and community development experience in Virginia. In this role, Tynan’s main focus will be to increase collaboration and communication among the various entities engaged with unmanned systems across the Commonwealth, with the goal of growing unmanned systems economic activity and benefit in Virginia. Tynan has forged numerous strategic relationships within the aerospace community, and has a first-hand understanding of the issues and challenges of growing such an important industry in Virginia.

Before joining CIT, Tynan served as Project Manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) Business Investment Group, where she was the primary contact for the unmanned systems and aerospace sectors as well as many highly visible corporate headquarters relocation and expansion projects. Prior to the VEDP, Tynan served as Vice President of Business investments at the Greater Richmond partnership. Previously, Tynan held positions in the commercial aviation sector, including Sales and Marketing Manager for Japan’s All Nippon Airways after their inaugural U.S.A. flight service from Tokyo to Washington D.C. Her background also includes entrepreneurial experience as part of the start-up teams at People Express, Presidential, and Jet Aspen airlines. Tynan earned her B.S. in Education from the University of Virginia.

“I am thrilled to take on this role with CIT, and to play an important part in creating a much needed, centralized hub for the resources and information that is available to the unmanned systems community,” said Tynan. “In addition to advocacy, our focus for the Virginia Center for Unmanned Systems will be to serve as a clearinghouse and coordination point for related information, assets, and programs throughout the Commonwealth.”

The UAV industry requires a large variety of resources for development, testing, and applications. Virginia is uniquely positioned to provide ideal conditions and locations for the land, maritime, and aerial unmanned systems industry and our universities and research centers continue to improve with programs designed to match the skills and expertise needed by all types of employers. In October, CIT will launch a benchmark study to establish a base line of unmanned systems companies within the Commonwealth, including the services and products they provide. With Tynan’s leadership, these initiatives will help position Virginia as a national leader in what is a growing multi-billion-dollar industry.

“CIT is excited to welcome Tracy to the unmanned systems team. Her track record for driving growth in Virginia’s economy, as well as her relationship building experience in the aerospace community makes her a great fit for this role,” said Ed Albrigo, President and CEO of CIT. “We look forward to her contributions, and seeing the Center continue to bring leaders in both cyber security and UAV industries together to ensure that Virginia’s future of unmanned systems will promote collaboration with businesses, investors, universities, entrepreneurs, and government organizations to build a world class ecosystem that will create opportunities for every region of the Commonwealth.”

For more information about the Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence, please visit

About the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT)

The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), a nonprofit corporation, has been Virginia’s primary driver of innovation and entrepreneurship since 1985. CIT accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies through commercialization, capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology start-up companies and advanced technology consumers. CIT’s CAGE Code is 1UP71. To learn more, please visit You can also follow CIT on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

GO VA Region 8 Grant Funds Available for Eligible Projects

HARRISONBURG (March 13, 2018)


The GO Virginia Region 8 Council of the Shenandoah Valley is now accepting proposals for eligible projects to be funded through the Commonwealth’s GO Virginia initiative to grow and diversify regional economies.  GO Virginia is an initiative by Virginia’s senior business leaders to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.  The Region 8 Council has approximately $828,000 in per capita GO Virginia funds to award for collaborative projects that involve two or more localities and a private sector partner.  Projects should be focused on the targeted industries and eligible activities identified in Region 8’s Growth and Diversification Plan. In addition to the per capita funds, approximately $11.3 million in competitive statewide GO Virginia funds are also available for projects where two or more GO Virginia regions partner.

The most recent project funded by GO Virginia in Region 8 is the Rockbridge Area Advanced Manufacturing Program (RAAMP). RAAMP is a 40-week training program for welders at Byers Technical Institute, a new technical training center in Rockbridge County. The $200,000 needed to implement RAAMP will include a mix of GO Virginia funds and matching public/private investments from the Rockbridge County Economic Development Authority, the City of Buena Vista, and Byers, Inc., and will go towards expanding facilities and instructors to meet a critical demand for skilled welders in the region.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the project application guide available on the Shenandoah Valley Partnership website prior to completing an application.  The upcoming application deadlines are April 6, 2018, for per capita applications, and June 1, 2018, for per capita and competitive statewide applications.

GO Virginia Region 8 covers a large region from Winchester to Lexington and includes ten counties and six cities in the Shenandoah Valley, with a combined population of 525,000.  The 28-member council that oversees the GO Virginia program is made up of representatives from small and large business, higher and K-12 education, elected officials, and economic and workforce development organizations.

For more information on GO Virginia, visit online at Shenandoah Valley Partnership or Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

About GO Virginia:  The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (GO Virginia) is a voluntary, business-led, bipartisan initiative that was formed to foster private-sector growth and diversification across nine economic development regions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. State financial incentives designated for regional projects that encourage collaboration among private sector companies, workforce, education, and government are administered by the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board.