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United Way rolls out Small Biz United Program

The United Way of South Hampton Roads has a new program that enables small businesses to make a big impact.

Bill Blake, vice president of resource development, said Small Biz United is being launched in South Hampton Roads and will officially start in January.


The program offers small businesses two options to invest in the community: entry-level membership costs $1,200 per year; or the $2,400 per year level, which includes recognition sponsorship at Small Biz events.


Membership includes quarterly networking events, quarterly newsletter updates, volunteer opportunities, applicable affinity group membership and recognition in the annual report.


The entire investment is a charitable tax deduction.


While small businesses are in need of exposure, connections to grow and expand their business profiles, they also want to give back to their community.


“It’s a trifecta and a win for the community,” Blake said. “Every dollar the businesses contribute will go to fund our community’s biggest needs, and it stays 100 percent local.”


The impetus for Small Biz United came when the organization decided to take a look at the many small businesses throughout the area as another way to diversify.


Blake said the most current data, from 2014, showed there are 23,209 businesses on the Southside with fewer than 50 employees. The focus of the Small Biz United program is for businesses with 20 employees or less.


Blake said he read an article that showed companies are linking their social responsibility to their overall performance.


“Companies that tend to give back are outgrowing or outperforming those who aren’t doing philanthropic work,” Blake said.


As the program gets under way, a variety of businesses offered feedback, are excited to be part of it and agreed to be founding members.


One of those is the Better Business Bureau servicing Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina.


“Small Biz United is a wonderful blend of our community business resources to respond to local challenges, Greater Hampton Roads Better Business Bureau President and CEO Rosemary Nye said. “This program is volunteerism at its best and will really make a difference in our region as a supplement to the financial resources that are allocated for specific programs and services.”


Martin Joseph, CEO of 360IT Partners in Virginia Beach, also signed on to be a part of Small Biz United.


“360IT Partners is the IT provider to many nonprofits in Hampton Roads who benefit from United Way,” Joseph said. “The Small Biz United program offers a donation platform that enables us to give back to our community as well as the clients we support.”


For Joseph, when he heard Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals, speak about “double bottom line,” where a company is measured by not only the profits it’s able to make, but the contribution it can make in the community, it resonated with him.


“We want our employees, clients and prospective clients to know that 360IT Partners is vested in our community by giving to the United Way which supports hundreds of local charities, and we feel great about that,” Joseph said.



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