City Businesses Step up to the Challenge

May 30, 2018

What do Alloy Workshop, Carpet Plus, and Woodard Properties have in common? They are all City businesses that have been past players, AND WINNERS, in the Charlottesville Area Better Business Challenge!

So what is this awesome sounding challenge that so many City businesses want to be a part of? In a nutshell, the Better Business Challenge is a friendly competition that helps organizations cut energy costs, discover innovative solutions, and demonstrate their commitment to the community. It’s also a great way to engage organizations’ workforce in doing something that makes a difference. While participating in the Challenge, businesses not only help the environment by incorporating sustainable practices into their operations, but they also help their bottom line. In fact, it was determined that participating businesses in the 2014 Challenge have saved almost $185,000 per year in electricity and water costs as a result of changes made from being in the competition.

On May 8th, the Challenge launched for the third time, with over 15 area sponsors (including the Charlottesville Office of Economic Development) and more than 20 businesses already signed up to participate this go-round. To date, the Challenge has had over 150 businesses, school, congregations, and nonprofit participants. Over the next 12 months, competing businesses will try to rack up as many points as they can from an Energy Scorecard checklist; attend catered luncheons on trending topics; and in some cases, get one-on-one “coaching” support to help the assess, measure, and track success! At the end of the contest, June of 2019, the “green” carpet will be rolled out for an Awards Night to show off the participants’ sustainability chops!

If you’re a local business owner who is thinking that the Challenge sounds like a lot of fun, here are just a few reasons you might want to consider joining…

  • Cut your business costs
  • Gain positive recognition and build your brand
  • Gain access to resources that save you time and jumpstart your savings
  • Demonstrate commitment to the environment
  • Step up as a community “player”

But, you’re probably thinking as a busy business owner, when am I going to find time to do this? How am I going to add one more thing to my already overflowing plate? Well, you’re in luck! The Challenge team has created resources and benefits for you that are customizable for your business, save you time, and help excite your team. Players receive:

  • Three catered Lunch n’ Learns on key Challenge topics
  • An Energy Catalyst Toolkit
  • Onsite Assessment (and in some cases, a LEAP Energy Assessment) to uncover opportunities for savings
  • A volunteer Challenge “Coach” that can do some of the leg work for your company’s team (offered on a needs basis)

And, if you’re still not convinced about throwing your hat in ring, the Office of Economic Development has also partnered with the Better Business Challenge team to offer registration fee scholarships and three $500 mini-grants for eligible small, women, and/or minority-owned (SWaM) City businesses. The $500 will go toward energy efficiency products and services for the business. To find out more details and whether you qualify, check out the application form.

Businesses that join by June 1st get 10 extra bonus points, but enrollment is open throughout the summer. The first catered Lunch n’ Learn will take place on July 26th at CitySpace on the Downtown Mall. CFA Institute, Indoor Biotechnologies, and Firefly Restaurant have already registered to participate, are you ready to step up to the Challenge? Learn more at

A special thank you to Teri Kent, Director of Programs and Communications – Charlottesville Climate Collaborative, for her contribution to this blog!

-Hollie Lee, Chief of Workforce Development Strategies

OED Updates:

  • GO Cook started on Monday, May 21st. Through the program, six City residents are receiving culinary training from renowned Chef Antwon Brinson. Upon completion of GO Cook, graduates will begin employment with one of several restaurant employer partners in Charlottesville.
  • On May 23rd, the Office of Economic Development launched the GO Connect initiative, which provides new networking opportunities for professionals in the Charlottesville community. The next session will be held on August 7th from 5:30pm to 7:00pm at The Common House and will focus on personal branding. For more information, visit
  • Made In Charlottesville will be hosting its second Member Meetup on June 14th. For more information on Made In Charlottesville, visit the website.

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