By Tim Ryan

In a vibrant move towards bolstering the entrepreneurial spirit within Hampton Roads, Norfolk State University’s Innovation Center, in partnership with Selden Market, has announced the launch of the second session of the “Align: Small Business Series.” This initiative, aimed at empowering mom-and-pop retailers, is set to commence on February 28, 2024, at the NSU Innovation Center in Downtown Norfolk. This program is not just a series of workshops; it’s a beacon of hope and a testament to the commitment of local organizations toward nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hampton Roads.

The eight-week program is a collaborative effort involving the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center (SBDC). It is meticulously designed to cover a gamut of essential topics for small business success, ranging from e-commerce strategies and marketing to financial planning and raising capital. Including expert speakers and open discussions is poised to stimulate a nurturing environment for Norfolk’s small business community, encouraging growth and sustainability in both online and offline realms.

What makes this series particularly appealing from an IHR perspective is its focus on creating sustainable growth strategies for brick-and-mortar businesses. With the digital landscape posing significant revenue-generation challenges, the Align series is a proactive approach to equipping local retailers with the tools necessary for digital and physical market success. Akosua Acheamponmaa, Director of the NSU Innovation Center, highlights the series’ commitment to empowering entrepreneurs to thrive in both realms, reflecting IHR’s aim to support businesses through the digital transition.

The curriculum is designed to impart knowledge and foster a hands-on learning experience. From assessing business models to financial planning and budgeting, participants are guided through the intricacies of managing a successful business in today’s competitive landscape. The program offers one-on-one mentoring sessions, group discussions, and interactive workshops, ensuring participants receive personalized and practical advice.

Furthermore, the opportunity for participants to receive a certificate of completion and potentially secure a storefront at Selden Market is a testament to the tangible outcomes the series aims to achieve. This initiative not only supports individual entrepreneurs but also contributes to Downtown Norfolk‘s vibrancy and economic development.

Careyann Weinberg, director of Selden Market, emphasizes the program’s goal to see streets lined with successful small businesses, showcasing the local creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. This vision aligns with IHR’s goal of creating a supportive environment that fosters immediate success and ensures longevity and sustainability for businesses in the Hampton Roads area.

The Align: Small Business Series is a shining example of what can be achieved when organizations like Norfolk State University’s Innovation Center, Selden Market, and IHR collaborate to support the entrepreneurial community. It’s a clear signal that Hampton Roads is not just fostering innovation but actively investing in the future of its small businesses. This series is more than just a set of workshops; it’s a cornerstone for building a more resilient and prosperous business community in Hampton Roads, echoing IHR’s mission to inspire, educate, and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Here’s a link to the press release.