SOUTH BOSTON, VA – October 26, 2023 – Southern Virginia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem – the synergistic combination of people, organizations, and culture that interacts and cultivates business creation and growth – is poised for extraordinary growth, thanks to a $600,000 grant recently awarded to the SOVA Innovation Hub to strengthen the collective regional entrepreneurship initiative known as RISE Collaborative. This substantial investment is set to fortify Southern Virginia’s standing as a central hub for fostering small business growth, innovation, and economic development.

The grant was awarded by GO Virginia, a state-funded initiative administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) that works to strengthen and diversify Virginia’s economy and foster the creation of higher wage jobs in strategic industries. The funding will support RISE Collaborative, a dynamic initiative dedicated to providing essential support for entrepreneurs in Southern Virginia. Through RISE Collaborative programs, events, and network, entrepreneurs gain a supportive community of peers, direct access to business resource providers, dynamic training and skill-building content, and value-added networking opportunities.

“The RISE Collaborative, the SOVA Innovation Hub, and other key stakeholders who have joined this project will assuredly elevate and advance entrepreneurship and business growth region-wide,” said Tim Clark, Chair, GO Virginia Region 3 Council. “I join my Region 3 Council colleagues to say we applaud your past successes, and we look forward to the SOVA RISE Collaborative becoming a best-in-class for Virginia and the nation.”

Winter 2024 RISE Business Bootcamp

The first program to launch under this grant will be the Winter 2024 RISE Business Bootcamp powered by CO.STARTERS. Participants will immerse themselves in their business concepts, business strategies, financials, marketing blueprints, and other elements, with the goal of positioning their businesses for either a successful launch or expansion. This 10-week virtual live bootcamp is open to all types of business that are capable of growing and creating jobs and investment in Southern Virginia. More information about the program and program application is available online at Applications for the program are due Friday, December 8, 2023. The program will meet on Zoom on Tuesday evenings beginning January 9, 2024 and will conclude in March 2024. If you need assistance completing the application, please email or call (434) 570-1305.

Project Partners

In addition to the SOVA Innovation Hub, the collaborative effort includes key partners such as the Longwood Small Business Development Center, Hampden-Sydney College, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Patrick & Henry Community College, Microsoft TechSpark, and Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC).  Together, they will work hand in hand to break down barriers for historically marginalized populations and rural communities to successfully start, grow, and scale businesses, promoting equity and inclusivity as core principles.

SOVA Innovation Hub / Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC)

“This funding underscores a resolute commitment to catalyzing innovation in Southern Virginia, fortifying its economic future, and empowering the local workforce with critical skills and resources”, said Tad Deriso, President & CEO of MBC and Chair of the SOVA Innovation Hub. “With this grant, the SOVA Innovation Hub and its partners are primed to expand their reach, nurture talent, and continue to grow a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.”

“Just as MBC provides middle mile fiber infrastructure to Southern Virginia, the RISE Collaborative initiative provides infrastructure for the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Just like the internet, the ecosystem works best when it is connected,” said Lauren Mathena, Director of Economic Development and Community Engagement at MBC, who serves as the RISE Collaborative Project Manager for the SOVA Innovation Hub. “If you are a business owner who is ready to grow, if you are an innovator with a startup concept, or if you are an experienced entrepreneur willing to be a mentor, we invite you join RISE Collaborative at an upcoming event. We are especially excited about our upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Week events in November and the launch of the next RISE Business Bootcamp, which is accepting applications through December 8th and will kick off in January 2024.”

Longwood University / Longwood SBDC

“Longwood University is committed to supporting the economic health of our region,” said Sheri McGuire, Associate VP for Community and Economic Development and Executive Director of Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “As a long standing economic development partner on the local and regional level, our Small Business Development Center network is excited to continue our work with RISE collaborative as a training and consulting resource for entrepreneurs.” 

Hampden-Sydney College

“Hampden-Sydney College is committed to invigorating the entrepreneurial spirit within our rural communities. We wholeheartedly believe that by co-sponsoring the GO Virginia RISE Collaborative grant, we can nurture the next generation of rural founders,” said Dr. Andrew King, Director of the Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Hampden-Sydney College. “Our goal is to both educate and empower them to transform our regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. This partnership signifies our steadfast dedication to making a meaningful difference in our growing community.”

Southern Virginia Higher Education Center

“We are grateful for this opportunity to expand our role with the RISE Collaborative,” said Dr. Betty Adams, Executive Director, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC). “Adding an entrepreneurship track to the CTA Work-Based Learning Program will increase the critical knowledge, skills, and opportunities that students need to gain employment or create their own small businesses. This benefits local communities and further enriches our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Patrick & Henry Community College

“Expanding the entrepreneurial ecosystem is absolutely essential for improving a community’s economic growth and overall vibrancy,” said Dr. Greg Hodges, President of Patrick & Henry Community College. “Patrick & Henry Community College is honored to be part of the RISE Collaborative and will use these resources to hire a Business Navigator in order to expand our entrepreneurial outreach and provide even greater opportunities for our critical small business owners.”

Microsoft TechSpark

“Microsoft’s partnership with the SOVA Innovation Hub brings inclusive tech opportunities to entrepreneurs and communities in rural southern Virginia,” said Jeremy Satterfield, Microsoft TechSpark Manager, Virginia. “This additional funding helps nurture local businesses and foster greater economic opportunity across the region.”

RISE Collaborative serves current and future entrepreneurs and innovators who live or own a business in GO Virginia Region 3. GO Virginia Region 3 includes the Counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Henry, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, and the Cities of Danville and Martinsville. To find entrepreneurship and small business resources across the Southern Virginia region, visit

About the SOVA Innovation Hub

The SOVA Innovation Hub is a catalyst for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth in Southern Virginia. Through collaboration with business and education partners, the SOVA Innovation Hub provides access to resources, fosters collaboration, and nurtures skills that empower individuals and businesses to thrive in an ever-evolving world. Our state-of-the-art facility in South Boston, Virginia features multiple meeting spaces and a variety of offices and workspaces to meet the needs of small businesses and remote workers in Southern Virginia. Learn more at

About RISE Collaborative

RISE Collaborative brings together makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators of all backgrounds, interests, and experiences from across Southern Virginia to support the growth of entrepreneurship and innovation in the region. Through programs, events, and online network, entrepreneurs gain a supportive community of peers, direct access to business resource providers, dynamic training and skill-building content, and value-added networking opportunities. Learn more at

For media inquiries, please contact:

Liz Smith
Senior Marketing Manager
Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation
(434) 570-1312