NORFOLK, Va. - The City of Norfolk is helping local entrepreneurs with four unique programs.
One of them is the Norfolk Innovation Fund, starting out with half a million dollars. It will focus on providing money for businesses in fields including health care, technology, sustainability, life sciences and resiliency. The fund is the first Municipal Venture Capital Fund in Virginia and businesses can get up to $150,000.
3-D Printing, prototypes a plenty, locally based companies with customers in almost every country - all of this helps Hampton Roads be known as a startup activity headquarters, ranked 19th on the Kauffmann Index.
A local entrepreneur said Hampton Roads is beating out many major cities and other areas.
Norfolk's Innovation Fund is designed to help entrepreneurs and expanding businesses get money that might not be available otherwise. The loan can be worth as much as $150,000 and lasts up to five years.
The founder of xTuple, a global software company, Ned Lilly said, "The city is taking a broader view of what kind of companies, what kind of businesses, export types of businesses they can support and that's exciting."
While Lilly made his mark in software, he's hoping to make a change.
"If I could make one criticism of some of the stuff that`s happened around here in recent years, not everything has to be software. Not everything has to be an app," said Lilly.
That's where founder of 757 Makerspace, Beau Turner comes in. Turner calls the space a gym for innovators.
"People can come in here and use it like it`s your own workshop. Take a business idea you want to prototype and build that piece out. So to consider this an innovation district is going to make this a critical path to expanding this area," said Turner.
Turner believes the area is ripe for innovation since there's more people in the area and the energy has become richer and more vibrant.
"You're going to work with a lot of people in the area and everybody is ready to help each other into working on these projects and making something happen," said Turner.
The Innovation Fund is just one of four funds available. Other funds include a Citywide Partnership Fund, Grow Norfolk Fund and a Global Initiatives Fund.