During National Small Business Week, Kaine Highlights Viriginia Small Business Success Storoes

Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine is highlighting small business success stories from across the Commonwealth in honor of National Small Business Week (May 1-7), a week dedicated to supporting small businesses. As the Senate debates additional legislation to support small businesses, Kaine will continue to make the case about why more support for Virginia small businesses is necessary.

“Despite facing difficult challenges throughout COVID-19, small businesses have adapted to the pandemic, kept workers employed, and continued to support their communities,” said Senator Kaine. “Our small businesses are the backbone of our communities. I’m glad I’m able to share some examples of resilient small businesses across Virginia, many of which have used federal COVID relief to keep the lights on during the pandemic.”

On April 20, Kaine announced his initiative to highlight small businesses, and Virginians nominated small businesses through an online portal. Below are some examples of small businesses across Virginia that Senator Kaine received via the portal:

Despite facing difficult challenges throughout COVID-19, small businesses have adapted to the pandemic, kept workers employed, and continued to support their communities

Senator Kaine

Jody from Alexandria wrote about his catering business, Bittersweet Catering, which received PPP loans. Jody wrote about PPP and the other COVID relief programs: “Thank goodness the government stepped up to ensure the entire industry did not fail.”

Frank from Chantilly wrote about his small business, Craft Kitchen and Bath, which received PPP loans through the COVID relief bills Congress passed. Although his business has faced challenges brought on by the pandemic, he said: “The great American state and Virginia will get rid of these economic difficulties, we believe it, and we continue to work.”

Sandra from Reedville recognized The River Market in White Stone, which has provided delicious take-out foods throughout the pandemic. She wrote: “We do not know what the community would have done without them. They worked relentlessly to take care of us.” The River Market received a PPP loan.

Barbara from Virginia Beach wrote in about Serendip, a clothing and home décor store in Norfolk. She wrote about Serendip: “They made sure that the staff and customers were protected by following the CDC guidelines.” Serendip received PPP loans.

Barbara from Charlottesville wrote about C’ville Arts Cooperative Gallery, which has been in business for 25 years and is a mainstay in downtown Charlottesville. She said: “COVID just about did us in. However, thanks to grants from our government, clever negotiating with our landlord, and the kind support of our customers, we made it through! And every month since we re-opened has been record-breaking!”

Diana from Lexington wrote about Rockbridge Music, which received a PPP loan through the COVID relief bills. She wrote about their efforts to keep people safe during the pandemic: “We just ask people to wear a mask and we put up a plexiglass shield.”

Jen from Vienna wrote about Bards Alley Bookshop and their partnership with Bikes@Vienna to deliver books via bicycle during the pandemic. She wrote: “The financial assistance provided by the government has been undeniably critical to the survival of Bards Alley. Through two rounds of PPP loans, the bookstore was able to provide employment and pay rent expenses.”

David from Sperryville wrote in about Switz-Mix Records, which successfully applied for a small business grant and used that to keep the store’s manager working during the shutdown. The owner, Tina, even moved the store from the house that it was in into a commercial building next door, improving the floor plan. In addition to keeping her business, she also volunteered vaccinating people throughout the pandemic.

Leslie from Gate City wrote in about Southern Collective, which she opened six months before the pandemic. Luckily, Leslie and her husband, Evan, were able to act quickly in developing a website and launching weekly live sales through social media platforms. She wrote: “Our first live sale began with 35 viewers and quickly grew into the hundreds.” They received a local grant to help with their online business.

Mikael from Arlington wrote in about his family’s business, Manoukian Rugs. During the pandemic, they hosted a concert series that they streamed on social media platforms with the help of other businesses and community partners. He wrote: “We were happy to have received both direct and in-kind support from several levels of government.”

Mindy from Richmond wrote in about her organizing business, Abundance Organizing, which received PPP and other relief aid. Mindy wrote: “The pandemic forced us to think of our business in creative ways and dig hard into our vulnerabilities. … We primarily used these funds to maintain payroll and save the positions of our employees.”

Robin from Sterling wrote in about her business, Reston Limousine, which received EIDL funding, PPP loans, and a Coronavirus Emergency Relief Transportation (CERT) grant. She wrote: “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the Reston Limousine team is resilient and when we work together, everyone wins.”

Cynthia from Crozet wrote in about Fardowners Restaurant. Mark, the owner, updated their ventilation system and created an outdoor seating space. She wrote: “I’m a retired doctor, and it’s one of the few restaurants I feel comfortable in because of the ventilation.” Fardowners received a PPP loan.

Rhonda from Stafford wrote about SigmaCorps Solutions, founded by John Bosserman, a Marine Corps veteran.   SigmaCorps received a PPP loan, which covered their payroll costs for 8-12 weeks. During the pandemic, SigmaCorps took steps to keep employees safe: “We ensured our people had the additional sick leave and time-off needed when they contracted COVID … and we published updated policies to ensure that all of our employees adopted a personal health philosophy that followed CDC and medical guidelines for their protection and that of their families.”

Danielle from Alexandria wrote about her yarn business, Fibre Space, which received COVID relief funds during the pandemic. Danielle wrote: “These funds allowed us to maintain all of our staff during the worst of the pandemic. In turn, those staff members were able to stay off unemployment, pay for their child care and support their families.”

Brian from Warrenton wrote to me about his business, Teacher’s Folly Farm. Brad used stimulus money to put up more fencing to save on feed costs. He wrote: “People enjoy our goats as pets and several are starting dairy herds with our does!”

Andrea from Williamsburg wrote about her small business, Divine Lunches, and her efforts to provide hot boxed lunches to health care workers, hospital staff, and other local residents in James City County, York County, and the City of Williamsburg.

John from Vienna wrote in about his small business, Medicare Portal, which helps provide education and enrollment services to residents in Virginia during the pandemic. They received PPP funds to help them transition to virtual services. He wrote: “Virginia has provided a great environment to allow small businesses to grow pre- and post-pandemic.”

Debi from Reston wrote about her non-profit that provides day programs to adults with disabilities. She pivoted to programs on Zoom during the pandemic, and received PPP funding to help cover costs. She said: “An unexpected outcome from going virtual during COVID is we now have the technical infrastructure to provide … virtual programming for participants who are on bed rest from surgeries … Now they can enjoy the benefits … while recuperating even months at a time!”

Valerie from Fairfax wrote in about Clawes Carpets, a family-owned small business that successfully adapted to online sales during the pandemic. They received a PPP loan to help cover payroll and rent, and did not lay anyone off.

Shannon from Lorton wrote about FIT4MOM, her business providing wellness services for mothers. During the pandemic, she successfully pivoted to online fitness classes, social events, and children’s activities and continued to provide a community space for women in the area. She received EIDL funding. She wrote: “My team and I did not relent. We are coming out on the other side!”

Savannah from Salem, who purchased a used bookstore two weeks before the pandemic, wrote about her efforts to keep people safe during the pandemic, offering curbside pickup and home delivery. She said: “I have now owned [Wonderous Books & More] for two years, and I feel that my success is not only due to the strategies I used during COVID but the support of all my peers.”

Latisha from Alexandria wrote about her Home Daycare and the challenges her business faced during the pandemic. She wrote: “The CARES Act kept my business alive, and now my house is full, and I have two wonderful assistants again!”

Susan from Warrenton sent a note about her landscaping company, Susan Hayes Garden Design, which she launched right before the pandemic. As working from home became more common during the pandemic, she helped design and create comfortable and accessible spaces for others. She wrote: “Between the pandemic and the obvious environmental effects brought about by climate change, people are looking for contractors who can respond to them as individuals and take their unique needs into consideration when designing their personal space.”

Nathaniel from Chester wrote about My Brother’s Keeper of Greater Richmond, a nonprofit that provides fatherhood classes for men incarcerated at Henrico County Jail and Richmond County Jail. Metropolitan Business League named them Non-Profit of the Year in 2022.

Kenneth from Richmond wrote in about his nonprofit organization, Adult Alternative Program, a reentry program for formerly incarcerated individuals. He said he provided masks, hand sanitizers, and rubber gloves and encouraged social distancing to keep people safe during the pandemic.

Tim from Arlington wrote in about Friendship Products, his company which works on researching and developing technology that turns waste into resources, such as replacing single-use plastic bottles.

Robin from Reston wrote in about the Pearl Project Institute for Innovation in STEM Literacy, her nonprofit that is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of tech talent, especially among women.

Harsha from Herndon wrote in about Jeeva Informatics Solutions, a small business that develops software to better accelerate clinical research.

Tess from Herndon wrote in about Simply Enhance, her business offering graphic design and brand strategy services for small businesses.

Melissa from Strasburg wrote about Nancy’s Coffee Bar and owner Kara’s efforts to keep her customers safe, including through contactless payment. She wrote: “Neighbors sponsored coffees for local police, medical personnel, and first responders.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, Senator Kaine has successfully pushed to pass legislation to help small businesses and nonprofits, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the December 2020 government funding bill, which included COVID-19 relief, and the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Virginia small businesses and nonprofits have received significant federal support including:

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans: Around 155,000 Virginia small businesses and nonprofits received at least one PPP loan, totaling more than $18 billion, to keep workers on the payroll.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): More than 78,000 Virginia small businesses received more than $7.6 billion in EIDL.

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG): 378 Virginia businesses received over $200 million in funding.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF): More than 2,700 Virginia businesses received over $650 million in funding.

State and Local Aid: The ARP included $7.2 billion for state and local governments in Virginia. This flexible funding has been used by many localities to support small businesses.

Support for Underserved Small Businesses: The ARP also created the Community Navigator Pilot Program to improve access to federal support for underserved small businesses.

Senator Kaine also pushed for permanent authorization of the Minority Business Development Administration, including his Reaching America’s Rural Minority Business Act, as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

President Biden recently announced new steps to help small businesses, including increasing access to capital, expanding support for minority-owned small businesses, and investing in the Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Program.