August 2020
Governor Northam Announces $70 Million Rebuild VA Economic Recovery Fund for Small Businesses, Nonprofits Impacted by COVID-19
Grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to approximately 7,000 applicants
On Monday, July 27, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced $70 million for small businesses and nonprofit organizations whose normal operations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be made available through Rebuild VA, a new economic recovery fund, and grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to approximately 7,000 applicants to cover eligible expenses.

Rebuild VA will be administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD). Businesses and nonprofits must be in good standing, have annual gross revenues of no more than $1.5 million, and have no more than 25 employees. Eligible businesses and nonprofits include food and beverage establishments, non-essential retail, exercise and fitness, entertainment and public amusement, personal care and personal grooming services, and private campground and overnight summer camps. Businesses must also certify that they have not received federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds or other federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
City of Roanoke, VA Launches Financial Empowerment Center
Offering Financial Counseling as a No-Cost Public Service 
The City of Roanoke, VA announced the opening of a local Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) to support residents with one-on-one financial counseling to local residents.
The City of Roanoke, VA, in partnership with the national  Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund  (CFE Fund) and Freedom First Enterprises announced Tuesday,
July 28 the grand opening of Roanoke’s Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), offering professional, one-on-one financial counseling and coaching as a no-cost public service to local residents. The Roanoke FEC will offer professionally trained FEC counselors to help individuals and families manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products. At the core of the FEC model is the integration of counseling into other social services, such as housing and foreclosure prevention, workforce development, prisoner reentry, benefits access, domestic violence services, and more. 

Due to concerns with COVID-19, all one-on-one financial coaching sessions will be conducted over the phone. To schedule an appointment, please visit . If you need further assistance, please email us at , or call (540) 427-6811.

“The City of Roanoke looks forward to helping our residents reduce their debt, build savings, establish and improve credit, connect to safe and affordable bank accounts, and work towards a stronger financial future,” said Mayor Sherman Lea.

“As a long-time local provider of financial counseling services in our region, Freedom First Enterprises is proud to partner with the City of Roanoke to bring quality, no-cost financial counseling to all of Roanoke area residents through the Financial Empowerment Center, said Tim Cerebe, Vice President of Community Development Programs at Freedom First. Our counselors look at the whole picture for each individual client, no matter their socioeconomic status, so they are set up for success as they work towards achieving whatever goal they set out, whether it be debt reduction or wealth building or any number of financial aspirations.”

“Local leaders know first-hand the connection between family financial stability and community financial stability, said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. Mayor Lea, City Manager Bob Cowell and the City of Roanoke are part of a growing national movement to bring free, high-quality financial counseling as a public service to their residents; we are proud to partner with the City of Roanoke on this critical work.” 

First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, FECs across the country have worked with over 108,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by over $150 million, and increasing their families’ savings by more than $23 million. In addition, a CFE Fund evaluation showed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges.

The City of Roanoke is one of over two dozen cities and counties across the country who have either launched or are working to launch local FECs. The City of Roanoke FEC is supported by the CFE Fund, Freedom First Enterprises, and Carilion Clinic. 

The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders in over 80 cities to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit  or follow us on Twitter at  @CFEFund.
Spotlight on Business
Local Business Celebrates Centennial Year!

Melrose Hardware located at 2302 Melrose Avenue is celebrating its 100th Anniversary.

The Moses family immigrated to America from Lebanon in the 1890s. In the 1920s Joseph and Mary Moses (Joe Moses' grandparents) opened the Moses Grocery Store on the corner of North Jefferson Street and Gilmer Avenue. The grocery store largely served the African American community of Gainsboro.

Enjoy this timeline of the history of Melrose Hardware, as well as biographic information about the Moses family:

1920: Hanna “H.A.” Moses opens the Sanitary Grocery & Meat Market on Second Avenue Northwest.

1934: Joseph Moses is born upstairs at the store to Hanna and Mary Murray Moses.

1937: H.A. Moses constructs a commercial building on Melrose Avenue and rents it out to several small businesses.

1949: The Moseses renovate a portion of the Melrose Avenue building to prepare for moving the grocery store from Second Avenue. Family members, including children John, Joe, Mary Frances and Rose Theresa, move into a house directly across the street.

1950: In August, H.A. Moses opens the grocery store at 2302 Melrose Ave.

1953: H.A. Moses opens Melrose Hardware in the space adjacent to the grocery store. Joe Moses leaves for college.

1959: Joe Moses joins the U.S. Army, serves active duty for seven years and then joins the civil service.

1973: H.A. Moses leaves the grocery business but continues to run the hardware store next door.

1993: H.A. Moses dies in September at age 91. Hardware store closes for a few months.

1994: John Moses, Joe’s brother, returns to Roanoke to run the hardware store.

1995: Joe Moses retires from his job in government service and returns to Roanoke with his wife, Amanda, a native of Arizona, to help John run the store.

1997: The brothers return to their roots, moving the hardware store into the old grocery store space.

1998: In June, Moses family matriarch, Mary Moses dies.

2005: Joe Moses buys out his brother, John, and mans the hardware store most days without help. Mr. Joe Moses is pictured below.

Click here to learn more about Melrose Hardware, LLC!

This article was published in The Roanoke Tribune on July 16, 2020 and is written by Megan Mizak and Barbra Duerk.
Passenger Traffic Starts to Rebound at ROA 
June 2020 traffic up 112% over May 2020 at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport
The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) saw an increase in June 2020 traffic of 112% over May 2020 with 13,566 passengers flying ROA in June, a 7,179 passenger increase over May. This increase equates to 239 more passengers flying each day, as ROA entered Phase Two of reopening related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the airport realized improvements in month-to-month traffic, traffic in June was still down 77% from June 2019. Despite the year over year decrease, the downward trend bottomed out in April and passengers are now returning to the airport.

“We are pleased to see the passenger traffic rebounding this summer,” stated Timothy T. Bradshaw, A.A.E., executive director of the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission.  “Passengers are confident in the measures implemented by the airlines and airport to ensure the safety of passengers. We hope to see this upward trend continue into the fall as the pandemic threat diminishes. As airlines rebuild their schedules for the new demand environment, it is critical to use our air service to keep it and help our economy grow. We continue to appreciate the support of our community choosing to fly ROA and not driving out of market to fly.”

The Commission continues to work with the airlines to maintain air service for the region. ROA is open and operational with enhanced cleaning protocols in place, as with the airlines, making air travel as safe as possible. The commission sincerely thanks customers for choosing to fly ROA.

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is the primary airport for Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the New River Valley.  ROA serves over 719,000 passengers per year via 4 airlines (American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and Allegiant Air) with nonstop service to 5 hub cities (Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago-O’Hare, Philadelphia, and Washington-Dulles) as well as weekly flights to Orlando Sanford International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

To learn more, please visit .  
Preparing to Reopen
Mask-Friendly Businesses

Planning the reopening of your business soon? If so, you may wish to download one of the graphics to the left provided by the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC)...feel free to print the graphics and hang them in your storefront window!
The SBDC also recently held a presentation regarding safely reopening businesses while adhering to social distancing and other health and safety guidelines . View this presentation below.

For patients enrolled in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s nationwide Phase three I-ACQUIRE clinical trial, occupational therapy looks like playtime. Using toys and familiar objects, pediatric stroke survivors learn to use their weakened arm, gaining motor skills and coordination while completing fun tasks. The new National Pediatric Rehabilitation Resource Center, based at the institute and Virginia Tech, will expand and share the pioneering development of therapies at the clinic.
Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and partners pioneer nation's first pediatric rehabilitation resource center

Research partners across three institutions are opening the nation’s first and only resource center dedicated to promoting clinical trials research in the rapidly expanding field of pediatric rehabilitation.

Sharon Landesman Ramey , research professor and distinguished research scholar at the  Fralin Biomedical Research Institute , will direct the new center — a partnership between Virginia Tech Ohio State University  and  Nationwide Children’s Hospital  — to help clinical scientists in pediatric rehabilitation research by funding pilot studies and offering courses and mentored experiences.

The award builds on the groundbreaking research and discoveries at the institute’s  Neuromotor Research Clinic , which  Stephanie DeLuca , an associate professor at the institute, directs with Landesman Ramey. Virginia Tech will expand its role as an infrastructure base to encourage other researchers to broaden their focus.

The  National Pediatric Rehabilitation Resource Center  is known informally among its scientists as C-PROGRESS, an acronym for Center for Pediatric Rehabilitation: Growing Research, Educating, and Sharing Science. The nickname reflects the team’s primary objective of “seeing progress” in the relatively new and emerging field of pediatric rehabilitation science, and the group will broadly support pediatric rehabilitation research, providing up to $150,000 a year for pilot studies.

C-PROGRESS is a partnership among six researchers at three institutions, including Landesman Ramey, DeLuca, and also Virginia Tech’s  Craig Ramey , a research professor and distinguished research scholar at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. From Ohio State University,  Jill Heathcock , an associate professor and director of the Infant Lab, and  Amy Darragh , director of the Occupational Therapy Division in the College of Medicine, complete the partnership with  Warren Lo , attending pediatric neurologist at Nationwide Children's and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the OSU College of Medicine.

The scientists have worked together for nearly a decade, innovating treatments and measures for children’s rehabilitation progress and leading clinical trials. Currently, the team is also leading a  Phase III clinical trial  funded as part of StrokeNet, testing two doses of an intervention to treat infants with Perinatal Stroke that occurs within the first month of life.

The new center is a response to growing demand for effective rehabilitation methods. Hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. are impacted annually by prenatal and infant stroke, cerebral palsy, traumatic and acquired brain injury, and neuromuscular disorders – conditions once deemed in many cases to be “static,” “degenerative,” and “incurable.” That view is no longer held. Investigators, including those at Virginia Tech, Ohio State, and Nationwide Children’s, are developing, implementing and evaluating new approaches to change the trajectory of these disorders and childrens’ lives.

“We simply have not had a full-court attack scientifically to find out how far these children can progress with the right level of investments at the right time,” Landesman Ramey said.

The field of pediatric rehabilitation has grown tremendously in the past 15 years, but the C-PROGRESS team predicts the next five years can become a period of swift, strong consolidation of research goals, recruitment of new investigators, and the development of new protocols to expand interdisciplinary research and conduct much-needed, rigorous Phase II and Phase III clinical trials.

C-PROGRESS will be one of a network of six centers under the umbrella of the  Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development , part of the  National Institutes of Health , with direct oversight from the  National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR). Co-funding for the $5 million comes from the

The C-PROGRESS team believes pediatric rehabilitation confronts unique issues, challenges, and opportunities that distinguish it from the larger field of adult rehabilitation.

Very young children’s brains and behavior possess substantial capacity for plasticity with the ability to develop in dynamic ways that benefit the child’s entire nervous system and behavioral range. The team at the Neuromotor Research Clinic often sees “spillover effects” from motor treatments – changes in children’s speech and language, social understanding and interactions, curiosity, emotional self-regulation, and advances in learning and cognition.
“The right types and amounts of rehabilitation can be transformative for a young child and for the family as well, Landesman Ramey said. We have vastly underestimated human potential to grow and change.”

DeLuca will lead the educational component of the center, much of which will be presented online at the  C-PROGRESS website  in the form of a library of courses, workshops, webinars and demonstrations to train researchers in the design, conduct, analysis, and reporting of clinical trials. She hopes the center will attract investigators from diverse fields to pioneer new forms of treatment.

“I’ve gotten to know the children participating in our many clinical studies and watched their development into successful adulthood, DeLuca said. I’ve also seen how parents are filled with amazing ideas worthy of research as well as grounded advice for how clinicians can be responsive to their child’s total needs.”

Heathcock will lead the center’s technology component, including studying how to better assess children’s behavior in real world settings like home, school, and sports, complemented by lab measures.

Darragh, also at Ohio State University, will lead the center’s pilot studies program, which disperse up to $750,000 for small projects, or about $150,000 a year.

“We will promote ideas for rehabilitation that are a combination of bold, feasible, and far-reaching, Darragh said. We want to maximize the success of each pilot study so that the team can acquire large-scale funding for their ideas that demonstrate the greatest promise.”

Lo will organize opportunities for clinicians and scientists to have mentored collaborations with the C-PROGRESS senior scientists at both Ohio State and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. Traditionally, many clinicians in pediatric neurology, physiatry – or physical medicine and rehabilitation – and developmental pediatrics have not had in-depth training or sufficient time to dedicate to conducting clinical trials.

“Clinical insights can be corralled into improving measurements in clinical trials to become more attuned to the full range of physical and mental needs of patients,” Lo said.

Craig Ramey will share the center’s expertise with national professional and advocacy organizations and private foundations. Ramey has previously led large interdisciplinary teams to address complex and pressing current health and social problems.

“There is nothing more important than bringing forth the full human potential of each and every child by applying all of our scientific knowledge. Ramey said. Pediatric medical rehabilitation is ready to move into the big leagues with team science.”

Matt Chittum is the media contact for this story. He may be reached at .
Announcing Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge knows safety should be part of the experience for visitors, businesses, and local residents in the surrounding VBR region. As we continue to work together to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to join our Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge as a commitment to keep each other safe and healthy.

The pledge follows recommended guidelines from the CDC and public health officials, and helps us create an environment of safety while we enjoy the businesses and experiences that make Virginia's Blue Ridge a special place. 

We've made the pledge available in a variety of formats and resources that you can use for your own purposes. This should be an easy tool to use and provide consistent messaging for the region. Start using the  Stay Safe Pledge Toolkit
You can simply Download, Print and Post on your door or Post on your Website and Social Media. 

We encourage all businesses and individuals to commit to the  Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge  as a way to work together to ensure the health and safety of our community.
Featured BizLink
Rise is working hard to support college students who have been devastated by COVID-19.  
RISE is one of the many organizations identified for COVID19 assistance through the Recover Roanoke employee-led initiative.

As of July 1, Virginia entered Phase 3 of reopening. The quick of it:
-        Teleworking was encouraged, as were the use of masks in public spaces
- Gatherings of 250 allowed, and
-        Non-essential retail, restaurants and houses of worship at 100% capacity, gyms at 75% capacity; with social distancing required for all of the aforementioned
However, two weeks later, Governor Ralph Northam mandated the wearing of masks at businesses, with enforcement provided in place since May is now enforceable by local health districts. He encouraged individual businesses to also step up enforcement. Businesses not in compliance with the mask mandate and social distancing guidelines can face license revocations by the state.
It's easy to see that most everyone has a very strong opinion on the mask mandate, With the mask mandate, especially on social media. Regardless of opinions, however, the enforcement can have real implications on the business world.
Here are three things you can do to make sure your business is safe in more ways than one.
Realize you’re not alone
Businesses should be in solidarity right now. Coming out of closures, it can feel daunting to add the mask requirement to your services.
“It’s not hard to do and it’s only temporary,” said Taylor Blackford, a hairstylist at  BANG Hair Studio  in Roanoke, regarding wearing a mask. “We’ve had a little pushback over the masks, but over all pretty minimal.”
Support one another to help consumers see it’s not a ‘you vs. them’ scenario. 
Keep moving forward
Some businesses that were able have continued their virtual ventures. Jump Into Mystery – a meet & mingle party game – typically hosts live events at breweries, restaurants, wineries and other social locations in the area. In addition, they offer team building events that have been held in various settings across the state. Their in-person attendance ranges from 15 to 100 people. 
“When the stay at home orders began, I had to cancel events and clear our calendar for months,” said Sabrina East, owner and chief executive at Jump Into Mystery. “At that time, I decided to look into virtual options to keep the community connected and keep our clients engaged until we could resume live events.”
Though in person social gatherings in person are allowed in Phase 3, Jump Into Mystery has found success online. In the virtual environment, they are not limited to local groups, but can expand their services outside of their usual area. Their next online public event - The Masquerade Murder – is on August 1. You can  follow them on Facebook  for information.
If your business has found a new audience, area or focus, keep moving forward to embrace it. 

Present your personality
We all have our favorite social media personalities – and those include businesses that humanize their messaging. 
A few of my personal favorites:
-         Pastel
-         RT Smiths Deli
-         The Noke Training LLC
These businesses each have a distinct personality, a reliable posting schedule and relatable content. They punctuate their posts with humor, engagement, education and photos. Of particular note, as well, is their support of other businesses!
Everyone has been affected by the coronavirus fallout in some way; give your business a voice and you won’t get lost in the crowd.
Business Bits is brought to you by Leigh Anne Stover ( ), Virginia Tech Marketing & Program Coordinator, Virginia Tech Roanoke Center - (540) 767-6101
Interested in a new job?
Virginia Tech is actively searching for many essential positions. To learn more about available career opportunities,

Resuming the Daily Commute Post Covid-19
As the Roanoke Valley moves through the Governor’s phased reopening, many of us are returning to the workplace for the first time in several months – which means returning to the daily commute.

For many, that commute involved breaking out the bicycle and riding to work.  The daily bike commute is a chance to get outside, to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us in the Roanoke Valley, and to say hello to our neighbors as we pass them by.  We also enjoy the knowledge that we are reducing vehicle emissions that contribute to air pollution and climate change, and are getting a little bit of exercise while we’re at it.

In this time of COVID-19, there’s another important reason to consider bike commuting: Safety.

A recent study by the Transportation Research Board determined that commuters felt that traveling by bike was second only to traveling in their personal vehicle in terms of riskiness, and many expected to continue to travel by bike even after the threat of the pandemic was lifted.

To support your employees' safety and make their commute more enjoyable, RIDE Solutions can assist you in making your business better for biking:
  • Bike Commuting 101 classes and training for new bike commuters
  • Assistance in making facilities friendly for bike commuters
  • Safe bike routes and Bike Buddy programs through the RIDE Solutions app
  • Rewards for every trip your employees take on a bike
  • Reporting for your business: Environmental impact, dollars saved, calories burned
  • Assistance in becoming a certified Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists

If you are interested in getting more employees to bike to work, and make it easier for employees who already make that choice, give us a call at 540-342-9393 or email us at You can also download the RIDE Solutions app to your mobile device or register at to get a jump start on your own bike commuting adventure.
Don't forget...BizRoanoke is on RVTV Channel 3!

 BizRoanoke is a monthly television program highlighting economic activity and programs within the City of Roanoke.

Tune into RVTV Channel 3 to learn more, access it on our website at  or follow this link to our most recent show: 

The City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development is on Facebook and Instagram ! Please "like" or "follow" us today!
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Check it Out!
City Owned Available Property
The City of Roanoke has a variety of properties available for acquisition, including existing buildings (as available) and buildable sites. Proposals for these properties must be approved by Council and must be submitted to the City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development. 

For more information on available properties and the proposal process, please visit the links below:

Upcoming Training and Events

Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity invites you to attend free PPP Loan Forgiveness Webinars to learn about how to spend and track PPP money so you can minimize what you have to repay.

Experts will walk you through how to complete the application to maximize your forgivable amount. Live Q & A sessions will be available at the end of the webinars. All registered participants will be emailed the link to join prior to the event.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020 10 am - 12 pm
Register at
Contact Person:

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 11 am - 12 pm
Register at
Contact Person:
Join the Roanoke Small Businessand Su Development Center for the following opportunity!
Smart Start | August 11 th   4 – 7 PM
Are you considering starting a new business? Not sure what you need to do and what steps to take? Then Start Your Business Smart! Business Smart Start is an introduction to owning your own business. Topics covered include deciding on a legal entity structure, basic accounting and tax issues, steps you need to take for permits and licensing, steps to writing a business plan and basics of marketing and market research.

We cover the nine steps to market research to determine if your business idea makes sense.
Class is for individuals in business, thinking of starting a business even if it might be years in the future. The class is 3.0 hours long so these topics will only be briefly covered.

Upon completing the class you will have the opportunity to schedule a one-on-one appointment with one of our professional business advisors.

Speaker: Tom Tanner 
To learn more, email h ,  call (540) 632-1174 or
visit Roanoke Small Business Development Center on Facebook!
Diversity in the Workplace
  • When: Wednesday, Aug. 19 at noon EST
  • Where: Virtual
Dr. Menah Pratt-Clarke, Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity at Virginia Tech, will lead a discussion about diversity in the workplace. Learn how you can help lead strategic change to ensure a more diverse workplace.

Dr. Menah Pratt-Clarke is also a Professor of Education in the School of Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, with affiliations in Africana Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Department of Sociology at Virginia Tech.

She has more than 20 years of administrative, academic, and legal experience in higher education, with a focus on executing and coordinating large-scale strategic initiatives that promote institutional transformation. As a scholar-administrator, she believes in the importance of praxis and using scholarship to inform and lead change in higher education.
Her research interests include critical race studies, Black feminism, and critical race feminism, with a particular focus on issues of transdisciplinary analysis of diversity issues in higher education.

Her books include  Critical Race Feminism and Education: A Social Justice Model  (2012),  Journeys of Social Justice: Women of Color Presidents in the Academy  (Peter Lang, 2017) and  Reflections on Race, Gender, and Culture in Cuba  (Peter Lang, 2017),   A Black Woman’s Journey from Cotton Picking to College Professor: Lessons about race, gender, and class in America (Peter Lang, 2018).