ViBe Creative District Awards First Two Matching Grants to Commune Bakery LLC and 1701 LLC

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

​Virginia Beach's ViBe Creative District has awarded the first two matching grants to businesses in the District. The program was initiated last month by Virginia Beach Economic Development in collaboration with the Office of Cultural Affairs and ViBe Creative District.

Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Commune Bakery LLC will add five new jobs and invest $163,000 to create a new 1,800-square-foot commercial bakery at 532 Virginia Beach Blvd. in the ViBe Creative District. As part of this project, Commune Bakery LLC commits to purchasing more than $200,000 of Virginia grown grains, eggs, milk, meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables over the next three years. 

"Commune Bakery LLC's continued growth and investment in the City of Virginia Beach is great news for Virginia's agriculture sector and for our economy overall," said Governor Northam. "Investments like these create jobs and open new markets for Virginia's farmers.  Today's announcement is a great win for agriculture in Virginia as we continue with our ongoing efforts to build a new Virginia economy."

Kevin Jamison is the co-owner of two Commune restaurants located at 501 Virginia Beach Blvd. in Virginia Beach and 759 Granby Street in Norfolk as well as New Earth Farm located at 1885 Indian River Road in Virginia Beach. Co-owner Ishiah White is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and the current lead baker and kitchen manager at both restaurant locations, and has worked for the company since its inception in early 2015.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with the City of Virginia Beach and Commune Bakery LLC to secure this project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $15,000 grant from the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, which will be matched with a $15,000 grant through the ViBe Creative District Matching Grant program.

"In the three years we have been in business, we have been using over 90 percent locally grown and produced products between our two restaurants," said Jamison and White. "We enjoy working directly with Virginia farmers so that we can constantly offer a unique menu that highlights Virginia agriculture and the importance of local food systems. Expanding to open this new bakery is exciting, and we are grateful to VDACS and the City of Virginia Beach for helping us with this expansion."

"This partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia energizes the ViBe Creative District and increases opportunities for our farmers," said Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. "This is one of the many ways the City can support small business growth. We are so pleased with the initial applicants and look forward to even more improvements in the District."

1701 LLC
1701 LLC is the first co-working space in Virginia Beach located at 1701 Baltic Ave. in the ViBe Creative District. The building provides flexible office space to individual freelancers, startups, artists and remote employees from a variety of companies. The space is also used as a community gallery for 10-12 rotating artists. Lisa DeNoia, co-founder, applied to the ViBe Creative District Matching Grant Program to support interior and exterior building enhancements.

A $10,000 grant has been awarded to replace the current metal doors with a commercial glass door and add windows to the north side of the building. The improvements will create an inviting work environment to accommodate more resident entrepreneurs as well as a new startup accelerator program beginning in summer 2018, and 1701 LLC will invest $38,000 in the project.

The owners of 1701 are also the owners of Fathom Coffee, a local coffee roaster looking to open a retail location in the ViBe Creative District within the next 18-24 months. A separate commercial entrance to the north side of 1701 will provide the opportunity to locate Fathom Coffee inside 1701 in the future. The coffee shop will create four to six additional jobs and increase the number of retail and attractions in the ViBe Creative District.

The ViBe Creative District Matching grants are designed to provide financial support to small and locally owned and operated businesses located within the District. The program offers financial incentives in the form of matching grants to new and existing property owners or businesses that plan to make capital investments within the District with a minimum grant request of $1,000 and a maximum of $15,000. Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis until funds for the fiscal year are depleted. Grant applications and additional information are available at www.yesvirginiabeach.com/city-incentives.

"An artisan commercial bakery will enhance the culinary sights, tastes and smells experienced by visitors enjoying the variety of local businesses in our neighborhood," said Kate Pittman, executive director. "1701 is the creative think-tank here in our fast revitalizing district. This unique incubator space has helped launch over 60 businesses in the last two years. These improvements will benefit a large network of entrepreneurial businesses, including their future coffee shop."

About ViBe Creative District
ViBe Creative District was established to attract creative industries to a section of the Virginia Beach oceanfront that was identified for revitalization. It was once an incubator for small and emerging businesses. In 2015, the City of Virginia Beach established the boundary of the district by ordinance and declared it "an arts and cultural district and technology zone" with incentives established by the Virginia General Assembly. The ViBe Creative District's purpose is to serve as a vibrant center for the arts, culture and technology.

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