CEDAR BLUFF, VA – SEPTEMBER 21, 2021 – Assisting customers in the exploration of their creative talents and providing them with a ready source of craft supplies for a large variety of crafts was Linda Hamm’s goal as she started her new business, the Craft Connection, LLC.

The new business, which opened in April, is a paint your own pottery shop and also sells craft supplies, vinyl, yarns and thread from its location on 4415 Steelsburg Highway in Cedar Bluff. Craft Connection, LLC was a recent recipient of a $6,500 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital matching grant.

“Assisting entrepreneurs in the growth of their new businesses while at the same time creating jobs is the goal of VCEDA’s seed capital matching grant fund program,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Craft Connection LLC projects creating two full-time and two part-time jobs within three years.”

At Craft Connection, customers will find a ready stock of craft supplies from scissors and cutting mats to rotary cutting tools, diamond art, paint by number kits, mesh for weaths, yarn, vinyls and everyday and holiday-themed pottery pieces ready to paint on-site ranging in price from $5 to $50. Additionally, Hamm noted, the shop can also do lettering for custom signs.

Open Wednesday through Saturday, from  10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the Craft Connection also hosts several evening events focusing on a variety of crafts from wreath making to barn quilt square painting to string art and more. Classes and registration options are listed on the Craft Connection Facebook page, @craftconnection24609.

Hamm noted the Craft Connection space is also available to rent for pottery painting parties or other craft making events.

This past summer, Hamm offered a crafts program for kids once a week for a month, allowing them to come into the shop and complete an art project each week.

“The seed capital grant from VCEDA really helped us in a lot of ways,” Hamm said. “We used the funds to purchase a computer, a specialized printer and inventory.”

The business may be reached at 276-963-0397 or through Facebook Messenger.

Hamm worked with the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College in the development of her application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.

SWCC SBDC Business Advisor Brittani Clarke Clayman noted the Seed Capital Matching Fund program not only provides funds for startup businesses in the VCEDA region, but also provides access to vital business resources.  By working with the SBDC (a requirement for any applicant), business owners receive guidance from experienced advisors and learn how to utilize available tools to evaluate their business and develop a formal plan of action. As a result, applicants are better prepared to apply for funding and better equipped to make their business a success, she added.

“The SBDC team at SWCC was excited to learn that Craft Connection had been awarded a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority seed capital matching grant,” Clayman said. “Current and budding artists will find supplies to nurture their development at this Cedar Bluff small business.”

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.