Lynchburg, the second fastest growing city in Virginia, is home to diverse and friendly residential neighborhoods and a rapidly revitalizing downtown. Driven by innovative businesses, Lynchburg is a community that values history, natural beauty, and healthy, inclusive neighborhoods. Opportunity Lynchburg is the city’s economic development and tourism agency. It focuses its efforts on developing people and place, through means of business retention, expansion and attraction efforts, entrepreneurship initiatives, and business marketing for the city.
In 2014, Opportunity Lynchburg staff visited Chattanooga, TN on a learning trip to see how great startup cities are investing in people and place. Meeting with local leaders and startup support organizations, they discovered the CO.STARTERS program and network. Anna Bentson, Assistant Director of Opportunity Lynchburg, found that “CO.STARTERS was really the right program at the right time as we were grappling with how to authentically connect with our local entrepreneurial community and to provide a platform for people to learn, explore and connect with one another.”
After implementing CO.STARTERS, they hosted their first pitch competition and built the online platform launchedinlynchburg.com. They have graduated 74 starters, with many going on to launch businesses. Bentson conclusively remarked, “CO.STARTERS has given us a platform for entrepreneurs to connect with one another, building community pride and resources for sustained growth.”