Albemarle Economic Development Authority supports two grants

This week, the Albemarle Economic Development Authority offered financial support to grants already received by local nonprofits. In many cases involving state or federal programs, large awards require some local money in the form of matching grants. 

The Bridge PAI has received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a project called Unsettling Grounds that will reexamine space in the Broadway corridor that has been studied by the county as an area for economic development. The EDA will contribute $5,000 to the project. 

“The idea of the title Unsettled Grounds is a project that uses some experimental methods to try and create monuments and works by and for Black, indigenous, and low-income artists, supporting them their artistic endeavors,” said Jay Simple, the executive director of the Bridge Performing Arts Initiative. 

The idea got its start when Siri Russell was the director of equity, diversity and inclusion for Albemarle County as a way of bringing both social justice and placemaking to the Broadway corridor between the Woolen Mills Factory and the city’s Belmont neighborhood. 

“And so the project is really about trying to imagine what is a monument, and where do these monuments live in our landscape, both seen and unseen?” Simple said. “And to do so by investigating history that’s very central to Charlottesville and Albemarle County.” 

The product will be an augmented reality tour of the area curated and created by various artists including Marisa Williamson, who did a similar project that toured Philadelphia murals called Sweet Chariot. In this case, at least eight artists will be commissioned and given studio space to do their work. You can learn more at

Watch the EDA meeting:

In the second grant, the EDA approved $25,000 for the New Hill Development Corporation for a commercial kitchen to incubate culinary entrepreneurs. This is another project that came out of cooperation with the county’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to obtain a Growing Opportunities Virginia grant. 

“The city’s Economic Development Authority also participated in providing matching funds for this grant,” said J.T. Newberry, the principal business development manager for Albemarle. “The total grant amount was for $189,000.” 

New Hill was formed in 2018 and Yolunda Harrell is the president and CEO.

“We have a vision to expand to economic opportunities that redefines wealth for a thriving Black community,” Harrell said. “That is why we exist.” 

Harrell said a community vision plan overseen by New Hill for the Starr Hill neighborhood included a lot of  conversations with entrepreneurs about what they needed. 

“Part of what went into that project was this idea in terms of an outcome of creating a business incubator and so of course 2020 hit and what we saw was a tremendous need for why an incubator would exist, not only for Black businesses, but for businesses in general, specifically for businesses in the food industry,” Harrell said. 

Harrell said the kitchen will support up to 70 businesses, create up to 94 new jobs, increase revenues for local farmers, and add diversity to the local food economy. The big idea is to bring down the start-up costs for those just getting started.

“Especially when you live in a community like ours that can tend to have very expensive storefronts whereas in other communities where you have a lot more urban sprawl, you may tend to have more price points for storefronts,” Harrell said. 

Harrell said that New Hill board member Hunter Smith, the owner of the Champion Hospitality Group, will use the kitchen space for his restaurants. New Hill is also partnering with Culinary Concepts AB to create a boot camp program for those who will go through the program. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the August 20, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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