In 2013, Virginia Community Economic Network (VCEN), a nonprofit education and networking organization, surveyed over 70 community & economic development professionals and statewide leaders in the Commonwealth to gauge their interests in various programs and services to support small businesses. Among the highest in-demand needs identified were:
· Creating a website where individuals could find business building resource organizations in Virginia, searchable by geography and services offered
· Creating a shared online calendar of trainings and community events, searchable by location
· Creating an online directory of organizations involved in community development initiatives, searchable by location and category
In response to these and other related factors, in August 2014, VCEN launched the SourceLink Virginia online entrepreneurship portal found at: www.sourcelinkvirginia.org.
In 2017, Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech took over responsibility for the project management of SourceLink Virginia and formally became an affiliate in 2018 with funding support from the BB&T Charitable Foundation and Wells Fargo Foundation. As a result, SourceLink Virginia is now an economic development initiative of Virginia Cooperative Extension.
During its first four years, SourceLink Virginia has been visited by over 15,000 users. Its four-year (9/1/14-8/31/18) site-traffic statistics are:
· 15,415 unique visitors, 20,880 sessions, 51,019 page-views
· Average session: 2 minutes, 19 seconds; 2.44 pages/session
· Traffic: 89% new users, 11% returning users
· Activity Sources: 54% Website Referrals, 23% Direct, 21% Organic Search, 2% Social Media
In a little over four years, SourceLink Virginia has emerged as a highly regarded web-based small business development information source - it is considered both a tool for entrepreneurs to help themselves as well as a tool for economic developers to better serve their clients. For more information on SourceLink Virginia, contact Conaway Haskins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-527-4247.