Community Bank, Residents Cater Local Development

Sometimes local solutions can ease up the lack of a credit challenge many small businesses are currently facing. Size works to their advantage as small shops have more agility and flexibility to adapt to market demands and in the process promote community growth, which is why any size assistance can help.

Monarch Financial Holdings Inc., a community bank with nine banking offices in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Va., is starting the year with the launch of a performance-based grant.

The "Top Flight" award is a contest based on a $40,000 reward for growing business in Southside Hampton Roads with a little twist—at least in part the winner will be decided by the vote of area residents.

Monarch Bank CEO, Brad E. Schwartz, described the award as a way “to recognize businesses that are making impressive strides” to stimulate further small business growth and job creation for the community.

While the amount offered is not very large, selected winners will receive $10,000 in cash, a professional business service package valued at $10,000 from accounting, tax and advisory firm Cherry, Bekaert & Holland LLP, and an advertising package, including the creation of a 30-second commercial and cable airtime, valued at $10,000 from Cox Cable Media.

In addition, a professional business package valued at $10,000 from Cox Business Communications will help improve business processes.

The bank finds that besides funding using Web tools to increase small business productivity and improve management efficiency also is crucial to small businesses. The goal remains to use technology to ensure growth and productivity at the local level, which helps empower the economy locally and even globally.

Monarch Bank executives said the bank sees strong relationships with area businesses at the foundation of its own growth.

Packaged services are designed to encourage collaboration and teamwork that will assist businesses headquartered in Southside Hampton Roads.

To qualify they must have reported gross revenue of at least $1 million in 2009, were founded prior to fiscal year 2008, provide the number of full-time staff employed over each of the past three years, are in good standing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, and are properly licensed to do business in Virginia and Southside Hampton Roads.

Three semifinalists will be chosen by March 31, after that date community members will be able to vote for their favorite semifinalist between April 1-30 through a text-to-vote and online poll survey. The winner will be announced by May 17.

Norfolk-based law firm Vandeventer Black is sponsoring the award with pro-bono assistance.