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She left being a spy to pursue her dreams. This Virginia program is helping her.

Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 16, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Kathi McCausland once worked for the CIA but traded in her spy skills for crafting skills when her hobby became a full-time job.

“We make personalized gifts with a purpose,” said McCausland, who recently celebrated her tenth year as CEO of her company, BellaCuttery.

McCausland and 13 other entrepreneurs are among the small business owners that Virginia wants to help grow through an intense six-month program called New Virginia: Scaling4Growth.

“They said Virginia is the best state to do business and now that I've been in this class and in front of these people, I really truly believe that,” says McCausland.

The class, offered by the Department of Small Business & Supplier Diversity, awards graduates a “StreetWise MBA.” The course is a nationally recognized program that fosters economic development.

Among the latest cohort are lawyers, communications specialists, electricians, farmers and IT consultants. For McCausland, a busy mother of two, the course forced her to take a step back from working the day-to-day orders to focus on long-term goals.

“One thing that I did not have going into this class was a business plan because it started as a craft,” said McCausland who now fills some 20,000 orders a year. “Now we’ve created a three-year growth plan and I have a 20-page business plan that I can give to lenders.”

McCausland’s future growth plans include opening a makers’ space where other creatives can come in and use commercial-grade equipment at affordable rates. She also continues to personalize items for youth in Virginia's child welfare system through WorthDays, a Richmond non-profit that celebrates children by name.

The Scaling 4 Growth program is accepting applications for its next class. Participants must be an established Virginia-based small businesses with revenues between $250,000 and $10,000,000. Interested business owners can apply online.

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