Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: April 11, 2023
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Christian Martinez,

Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces $500,000 in Inaugural Petersburg Founders Fund Awards

20 grants of $25,000 provided to entrepreneurs based in the City of Petersburg

RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin announced today that 20 startups and small businesses operating in the city of Petersburg, will receive $25,000 each as part of the Petersburg Founders Fund (PFF) program. The Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) launched the PFF project in conjunction with Governor Glenn Youngkin’s “Partnership for Petersburg” initiative, a comprehensive state government approach featuring more than 40 initiatives across six thematic areas to enhance the quality of life in that city.

“The vision for economic growth in Petersburg begins with small businesses empowered to grow, create jobs and inspire this great community to a brighter future,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “The Commonwealth's commitment to supporting local businesses through the Petersburg Founders Fund includes a total of $500,000 in highly competitive grants to 20 small businesses that are part of this great city’s foundationThis is a powerful step in the right direction."

VIPC collaborated with Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce & Trade, local business leaders and economic development officials to create the PFF, a competitive grant fund to assist creative entrepreneurs with high-impact potential operating in the community. Eligible applicants were companies either headquartered in Petersburg and/or companies owned by a city resident. The application window opened on December 1, 2022, and nearly 240 proposals were submitted by the January 31, 2023 deadline.

“The application process was highly competitive and the fantastic response from the small business community exceeded our expectations,” said Bob Stolle, VIPC’s President and CEO. “We are excited to be able to support these 20 worthy businesses and look forward to seeing the positive impacts that they will have on the community in the months and years to come.”

The PFF grants of $25,000 apiece are supporting a variety of activities including, but not limited to: hiring or promoting employees, conducting market research, finance and accounting system upgrades, development of prototypes, staff development, debt repayment, inventory replenishment, website development, and leasehold improvements and renovations. PFF funding may not be used for property management or real estate investment activities.

“To remain competitive in an ever-changing economy, the citizens of Petersburg deserve a vibrant community that provides opportunities for good-paying jobs and attracts business investment,” said Caren Merrick, Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Through the Petersburg Founders Fund, the Commonwealth is investing in Petersburg’s economy and celebrating the energy of its entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

All 20 PFF grant award winners are companies based in the city of Petersburg, of whom 14 are business-owners also reside in the city. Twelve of the companies are women-owned and half are owned by African Americans. Three of the successful applicants are military veterans. The companies represent a broad array of industry sectors including Food and Beverage, Retail, Manufacturing, Childcare and Educational Services, Healthcare Services, Automotive, and more.

The Inaugural PFF Awardees Are:

  • Tameka Blount-Brown, I'm A Genius Montessori Academy, LLC
  • Lori Bullock, Euterra LLC
  • Poria Burleigh, Readers 2 Leaders Academy LLC
  • Donald Ferguson, DebRay Entertainment LLC dba Escape Old Towne Demetrius
  • Frazier, Resist Booksellers
  • Cynthia Haynie, Appomattox Tile Art Co
  • Gwen Hurt, Shoe Crazy Wine LLC
  • Quentel Lambert, Mr. Q's BBQ LLC
  • Senithia Martin, My Elegant Occasion dba Appomattox Event Center Virginia McCay, Old Towne's Alibi
  • Dave McCormack, Trapezium Brewing LLC
  • Gayle Nicholas, Another Level Barbering and Cosmetology School LLC
  • Linda Pittman, Strawberry Hill Mansion, LLC
  • Daphne Presley, Tri-Cities Enrichment Center
  • Craig Richards, LNN USA LLC
  • Ricky Scott, Community Counseling Group
  • Alexa Taylor, A3 Fabricators
  • Robert Tucker, Petersburg Company LLC
  • David Walwer, D.A. Walwer Inc. trading as Virginia Auto Glass
  • Regina White-Kee, See Her Evolve, LLC

“We are encouraged by the response of Petersburg's entrepreneurial community to this new opportunity, and we appreciate the support that we had from local leaders and entrepreneur support organizations,” said Conaway Haskins, VIPC’s Vice President for Entrepreneurial Ecosystems who served as project manager for PFF. “There were many outstanding companies in the applicant pool which is a testament to the energy in the city and surrounding region.”

The PFF awardees will be celebrated next month at a community event in Petersburg hosted by Governor Glenn Youngkin and his Administration. More information on the Petersburg Founders Fund can be found at:

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