Virginia Beach to update efforts to boost minority, female-owned businesses

City pledged to fight disparity after scathing 2018 study
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Posted at 5:06 AM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 07:59:52-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Tasha Turnbull knows a lot about being strong. She built her business, T2 Fitness Studio on Diamond Springs Road, from scratch eleven years ago.

"I just kind of stepped out on faith and made it happen," she tells News 3 anchor Blaine Stewart.

"Thankfully, I'm still here. But legally, I just like, where's a lawyer? Who do I contact? Sales? Where do I go to help with that marketing, I don't know."

Keeping her business afloat took some serious mental muscle. Turnbull recalls there being no road map to follow. She was frustrated and on her own.

"It's been very trying, very difficult," she recalls. "So kudos to anybody who has made it."

While her business survived, others have not been as lucky.

"We all need access to the right funding, the right sources, the right resources."
-Sabrina Wooten, Virginia Beach City Council

Providing access to resources is part of Councilwoman Sabrina Wooten's mission. She met for an interview with News 3 at The Hive at Virginia Beach Town Center, a new, free, one-stop shop for business owners. There's workforce training, meeting space, education, even guidance on how to get loans and grants.

"When we make sure that everyone, women, minorities, service, disabled veterans have an opportunity and access to resources for their business, we're talking about instant economic growth across the board for everyone," Wooten says.

The Hive is the first tangible result of a larger mission laid out In 2019, part of a study on disparity in the city. It came In response to business developers, like NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, raising questions about race, cronyism, and favoritism in the city's business dealings. The city resolved to boost the number of minority-owned businesses, particularly ones working with the city.

Wooten will host a forum Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. to update residents on the city's progress.

"The numbers before were just atrocious, you know, and so now seeing that progress going upward, just really exciting," Wooten says.

Progress, but far from perfection. Wooten and the city know there is a long road ahead.

"I think we just need to do a better job of telling our story," she says. "Sure, we have some concerns and issues. We can't ignore those things or negate them. But we do have to do a better opportunity of telling our story to everyone, so they do know, the things that we are doing to make things better."

Tasha Turnbull is hopeful. Optimistic the city's efforts will not only help her business grow. But also give entrepreneurs starting now the strength to survive.

"I think it's a long time coming," Turnbull says. "

It should have been here 54 years ago, but I'm glad that it is here now."