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VirginiaDBA, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1996, provides a one-stop-service for technical assistance related to business formation, access to capital, and workforce development. VDBA works with existing businesses as they grow their workforce and mentors entrepreneurs from ideas to launching their first business venture. VDBA facilitates financing for Virginia businesses through micro-lending, loan guarantees, capital access, and various other programs. It has provided technical assistance to over 36,000 businesses and will host over 80 Entrepreneurial Workshops statewide this year.

We report to the Governor of Virginia through the Secretary of Commerce and Trade.

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We are led by Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade and Agency Director . VDBA is organized into three operational teams:

The Administrative Team supports the three operational teams and two oversight boards appointed by the Governor:

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History of the Virginia Department of Business Assistance

The Virginia Department of Business Assistance was formed as the Department of Business Assistance on July 1, 1996. An act of the General Assembly split the Department of Economic Development into two newly created entities: the Virginia Economic Partnership (VEDP) and the Department of Business Assistance (DBA). VEDP would attract new business to Virginia; DBA would serve Virginia’s existing business community and provide some services for business attraction.

The department moved from its co-location with the VEDP at Riverfront Towers to the 8th & Main Office Building in 1997. It moved from 8th & Main to the Jefferson Building at 1220 Bank Street in 2009. Since its inception, VDBA has also maintained an office in Abingdon.

The Department of Business Assistance added “Virginia” to its name in 2006, becoming VDBA.

The Department of Business Assistance consisted of the following operating divisions in 1996: Existing Industry, Small Business and Virginia Small Business Finance Authority (VSBFA), and Workforce Services. Existing Industry managed a business call program utilizing retired executives that worked part-time and included a research department. The Small Business group provided oversight to the Small Business Development Center Network and certified Woman-owned businesses. The VSBFA administered loans and loan guarantee programs. Workforce Development administered the second oldest state incentive program—grants and in-kind services for worker training.

Supporting the operating divisions was an administrative division that included a special events/marketing manager. From 1996 to the present, VDBA, under its special events director, has sponsored Business Appreciation Week, a major statewide celebration of the contributions businesses provide to the Commonwealth. From 1996 to 2002 DBA also sponsored the Quarterly Economic Development Seminar series.

The Small Business and the VSBFA were split into separate divisions in 1997. The Small Business division was abolished in 2002 and control of Small Business Development Center network passed to George Mason University. The Existing Industry call program was abolished in 2001 and the Research Team abolished in 2002. The retirement of the Administrative Director led to abolition of the position, with the Finance Team taking over its duties. The Legislative Liaison position was eliminated in 2009.

Existing Industry Development changed its name to Existing Business Services in 2002 and to Business Information Services in 2007. Workforce Services changed its name to Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) in 2006.

In 2003, DBA founded the Virginia Business Information Center (VBIC). In 2008, VDBA led the development of the online Business One Stop. VDBA began programs to serve Small, Woman and Minority-owned (SWaM) businesses seeking state contracting opportunities in 2005.

In 2008, some VDBA employees began telecommuting one day or more. Employees in Staunton and Northern Virginia relinquished their offices and began working from home.

In 2009, VDBA began using social media sites Twitter and Facebook.

Demonstrating its commitment to the community over the years, VDBA has volunteered as a group at the Special Olympics, Central Virginia Food Bank, and Hospitality House. The agency has consistently won awards for its participation in the Virginia Campaign.

Throughout its brief history, VDBA has taken pride in providing exceptional customer service and adapting to the changing needs of business. The agency has won numerous awards, particularly for training films produced by the VJIP team. VDBA’s website is ranked number one by Google in most business search categories. The entrepreneur training programs VDBA has developed have garnered national recognition for their breadth, scope, and effectiveness. Although there have been many calls to merge VDBA with other agencies, its unique blend of programs that serve all businesses in the Commonwealth has enabled the agency to maintain its autonomy.

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