Open for Your Business At The HIVE in Virginia Beach

Knowledge is Key to Helping Entrepreneurs Establish, Grow and Scale Their Companies

by CoVaBizMag

Established in August 2021, the HIVE is a 9,500 square foot business resource complex in the heart of Virginia Beach’s Town Center. It was created to encourage the growth of an innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem in the City and is the result of a successful collaboration between the City of Virginia Beach, academic institutions, other cities in the metropolitan area, Small Business Associations and additional entrepreneurial-related organizations. It focuses on offering its community members the resources and support they need to grow and scale their early-stage businesses. Acting as a knowledge hub, the HIVE offers entrepreneurs useful resources and connects them with like-minded individuals in Virginia Beach and around the region to help their businesses flourish. The HIVE is dedicated to serving small businesses, particularly those located in socially and economically disadvantaged communities.

Initially, the HIVE offered business resources only to Virginia Beach-based startups and existing businesses, but an increase in demand led to an expansion and now the programs are available to entrepreneurs in all seven cities in Hampton Roads. The HIVE can assist businesses with obtaining industry-related certifications, vocational education, licensing and grant and loan applications. And it’s a full-service, all-in-one destination for free counseling services covering everything from SWaM-related resources to entrepreneurial engagement to general business counseling.

In addition to supporting small businesses and startups, the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development (VBDED) has myriad tools, programs, seminars and special events geared toward existing business owners seeking to expand their companies, and there are special programs designed to help strengthen a variety of industry ecosystems. One such event is VBDED’s semi-annual Manufacturing Roundtable where HIVE members meet with Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer to discuss industry-related subjects. Discussion topics have introduced industry-specific trade skills to students to expose them to different career paths and familiarized companies with strategies they can use to acquire more skilled workers. As a result of initiatives like these, VBDED has fostered relationships between companies, colleges and trade schools to build stronger connections between educators and students.

The HIVE also offers programs tailored to the military, veterans and students. The Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Centers, The Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program, business boot camps and other military-focused organizations hold their meetings at the HIVE, and the HIVE’s strong partnership with the Virginia Beach Career and Technical Education Center and Virginia Beach Public School System (especially the Entrepreneurial Business Academy in Kempsville High School) is granting the HIVE the privilege of assisting students who are starting a business.

In early May 2023, the Thrive @ The HIVE initiative was launched. Workspace is offered at no cost for two months (two business days a week) to existing Virginia Beach startups, home-based businesses, and Hampton Roads military spouses who are entrepreneurs.

The HIVE programs have been so well received, that City Council assisted with funding a workforce development program at Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) in fiscal year 2023, and 2024. As of March 2023, VWU has offered 62 workforce development courses, reaching a total of 2,866 learners in the Virginia Beach area.

The City of Virginia Beach also partners with the Businesses Network of Offshore Wind organization (BNOW) to assist with funding for BNOW’s Offshore Wind Ready training. Offshore Wind Ready is a one-day educational program designed for companies wanting to learn more about specific business opportunities in the growing U.S. offshore wind industry. Offshore Wind Ready helps companies determine if the offshore wind sector of the renewable energy industry is a good fit for their business.

Virginia Beach Economic Development and the Virginia Beach Development Authority also utilize Economic Development Investment Program (EDIP) grants to assist existing and expanding businesses in Virginia Beach. This incentive program helps qualifying companies grow, provides cash grants to eligible companies based on the average annual salary and number of new jobs created and/or new capital investment made over a specified time period. Companies that have received EDIP grants have experienced successful expansions. One example is 360IT Partners, which started doing business in Virginia Beach in 1995 and acquired other businesses in the region during their expansion process. In conjunction with the EDIP grant 360IT Partners received, they were able to move their headquarters to a larger building and hire more full-time employees.

The HIVE serves as a “hub of knowledge” for small businesses in Hampton Roads. The organization stands ready to help entrepreneurs build their businesses on a firm foundation.

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