About Us

Business First is an economic development program designed to support the success of local businesses in the Greater Richmond area. Because when you succeed, we succeed.

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Business First, which touches hundreds of area businesses each year, is a collaborative effort by the City of Richmond, the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico, and the Greater Richmond Partnership. Each locality has a professional existing business specialist who is passionate about helping local businesses succeed.

Business First’s goal is to grow the Greater Richmond economy by connecting our local businesses with the tools needed to thrive in our region. Outreach and resources are customized to the needs of each business. The program’s multiple components work in harmony to create a proactive, holistic support system that encourages growth, suitable job creation and investment for our region’s local companies.

Business Assistance

Running a business is hard work and every now and then we all need a little help. Business First professionals are able to assist with a variety of business challenges. And, because the needs of businesses are often complex, we maintain a team of public- and private-sector referral partners who have the tools and resources available to offer an even more extensive list of solutions. Many of these services are provided at little or no cost. And all it takes to get started is a quick call or email.

Assistance offered is as varied as the businesses in our community, but some typical services include:

  • Expansion support
  • Connection to state and local incentive programs
  • Workforce recruiting and training
  • Financing
  • Business planning
  • Coordination of municipal services
  • Downsizing prevention and management

Proactive Outreach

We know you are busy and can’t always keep track of the wide array of support services available in the Richmond Region. That’s why the Business First team uses a variety of methods to reach out to businesses, including face-to-face interviews, phone conversations and business walks.

Through the visitation initiative, local economic development professionals and trained volunteers conduct hundreds of face-to-face interviews each year with local business leaders. During the interview, business leaders are given the chance to tell their story; local government representatives are allowed the opportunity to listen and build a lasting relationship with local companies. When needs or opportunities are identified, businesses are connected with customized resources.

At the end of our program year, the information gathered during the interviews is compiled into an annual report which provides a snapshot of the Richmond Region’s overall business climate, helping the region’s economic developers build an even better business environment.

Learn more about what to expect during a Business First visit or request a visit.

Special Initiatives

In addition to offering customized, one-on-one services, Business First strives to find areas of region-wide growth potential so our work can be as impactful as possible. We are currently focused on increasing the number of exporting companies in our region – because growing sales in other markets brings money back to the regional economy, helping local businesses grow even stronger.

With the support of the Brookings Institution, JP Morgan Chase, and Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Trade Division, we have formed the Metro Richmond Exports Initiative. MREI is a partnership between the Greater Richmond Partnership, Virginia’s Gateway Region, and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis which aims to increase the number of exports originating from the Richmond Region. With a combination of educational programing, grants, and marketing, we strive to help companies in the Richmond MSA begin to export internationally, or increase exporting activities. Learn more at http://metrorichmondexports.com/

The Business First Visit

So you've decided to participate in a Business First visit. We're looking forward to talking to you!

This is a great oppurtunity to voice your opinion, connect with resources that might help your business today, and form a lasting relationship with your local economic development department for any needs that may arise in the future.