City of Norfolk helping local entrepreneurs through funding programs

By Kim Cung

The City of Norfolk is helping local entrepreneurs with four unique programs.

One of them is the Norfolk Innovation Fund, starting out with half a million dollars. It will focus on providing money for businesses in fields including health care, technology, sustainability, life sciences and resiliency. The fund is the first Municipal Venture Capital Fund in Virginia and businesses can get up to $150,000.

3-D Printing, prototypes a plenty, locally based companies with customers in almost every country - all of this helps Hampton Roads be known as a startup activity headquarters, ranked 19th on the Kauffmann Index.

A local entrepreneur said Hampton Roads is beating out many major cities and other areas.

Norfolk's Innovation Fund is designed to help entrepreneurs and expanding businesses get money that might not be available otherwise. The loan can be worth as much as $150,000 and lasts up to five years.

The founder of xTuple, a global software company, Ned Lilly said, "The city is taking a broader view of what kind of  companies, what kind of businesses, export types of businesses they can support and that's exciting."

While Lilly made his mark in software, he's hoping to make a change.

"If I could make one criticism of some of the stuff that`s happened around here in recent years, not everything has to be software. Not everything has to be an app," said Lilly.