The Prince William County Department of Economic Development and Tourism (PWCDEDT) presented the Business Barriers Study and Action Plan, an 85-page small business study and call to action at yesterday’s Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) meeting. The study, which covers obstacles including access to capital, technical assistance, and professional networks, provides strategic groundwork for growing the department’s small business program.
PWCDEDT engaged Camoin Associates/Entreworks to conduct the study, which assessed barriers for businesses operated by minorities, immigrants, veterans, women, and low-income owners. The study examined qualitative and quantitative information related to potential small business program measures to establish a landscape assessment and identify challenges.
"Our department started our small business program in early 2019 right before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the program is relatively young among our counterparts in the Northern Virginia region," said Christina Winn, executive director, PWCDEDT. "We want to get more participation from small business owners in our programs. This report answers some of those questions and gives us foundational knowledge on how we can better serve our community."
Although the study acknowledged Prince William County has essential building blocks and support tools for small businesses, it noted "they are not always easily accessed by local business owners and entrepreneurs… [and the] lack of access may simply be the result of limited awareness of available support resources."
In addition to focus groups and interviews with stakeholders across the county, the study worked with a Business Barriers Advisory Group, a group of small business owners, who gave input and feedback. The study identified three challenge areas.
Better understanding and community awareness about entrepreneurship.
Easier access to learning and support opportunities.
Tailored resources to meet challenges and opportunities.
This study will help our department create better partnerships in our community for business development," said Clarice Grove, small business development manager, PWCDEDT. "Additional action steps include a call to our business support organizations and service providers, including accountants, lawyers, realtors, and architects, to become a more visible part of our ecosystem. And with our BOCS presentation, we hope to discuss the vision for how best to expand and grow our programs and services for small business owners across the county.”