Darden School of Business launches resilience competition

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is launching its third annual Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards competition. Darden is accepting applications and recommendations from qualifying Virginia businesses at www.resilienceawards.org through 2 July.

To assist businesses and communities nationwide, this year’s competition emphasizes how Virginia’s most resilient businesses adapted to—and are helping their communities recover from—the impact of the economic collapse of 2008.

“We are at a critical point in the economic recovery for Virginia and the nation as a whole,” said Darden Professor Greg Fairchild, a nationally-known expert on entrepreneurship. “By analyzing how the most resilient businesses achieved success in spite of the economic climate, we can bring that knowledge to other businesses as their communities seek to build momentum and add jobs.”

Fairchild will continue to study years of data from Virginia businesses entering the competition to determine how the applicants weathered the recession. The data will inform research that identifies strategies and lessons that can apply to other enterprises, regardless of industry or location.

The Tayloe Murphy Resilience Award honors and supports Virginia entrepreneurial businesses that demonstrate sustained vitality and commitment in areas characterized by high unemployment, high poverty and low entrepreneurial activity.

2011 Resilience Award winners from the towns of Melfa, Wise, Woodbridge, Franklin and South Boston have grown profits an average of 42 percent and employment by 20 percent annually over the past five years. These businesses have survived natural disasters, big-box competition and the crippling recession. Their innovations include lighter-than-air cell technology and award-winning wines coaxed from coal-mined soil. They have bridged cultural divides, supported local charities and brought hope to places where industries have disappeared. Above all, they demonstrated resilience.

Through ongoing media coverage, opportunities to engage key business and government leaders and enrollment in a week-long course at Darden’s highly-rated Executive Education program — valued at $8,000-$12,000 — five Resilience Award winners each year receive the recognition and resources to help their company and community continue to grow and succeed.

Pamela Barefoot, owner of Blue Crab Bay Co. and winner of last year’s Chairman’s Award, completed her Executive Education courses in March and published a blog about her experience.

For nearly a quarter century, her small, Melfa-based company has produced Chesapeake-style specialty foods, such as clam-juice-infused Bloody Mary mix and spicy snacks. Blue Crab Bay Co. has come back from a fire, beat the recession and reached beyond what some may see as an isolated location to engage a larger market.

“Before going to the class, I didn’t even know what a sales pipeline was,” Barefoot says. “I now feel prepared to work with my team to tackle the challenges of developing a strategic sales plan as well as a manageable sales pipeline. I know now that Blue Crab Bay Co. sells ‘pride’… pride in the Eastern Shore and our region.”

Cities in Virginia where businesses qualify based on rates of unemployment, poverty and self-employment include: Bristol, Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Colonial Heights, Covington, Danville, Emporia, Franklin, Fredericksburg, Galax, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Hopewell, Lexington, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Newport News, Norfolk, Norton, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Radford, Richmond, Roanoke, Waynesboro, Williamsburg and Winchester.

Counties in Virginia that qualify include: Accomack, Alleghany, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buchanan, Carroll, Charles City, Charlotte, Craig, Cumberland, Dickenson, Dinwiddie, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Lee, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Nottoway, Page, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince George, Pulaski, Richmond, Russell, Scott, Southampton, Sussex, Tazewell, Washington and Wise.

Enter your ZIP code on the competition website to determine if your area qualifies.

The deadline to apply or recommend a business for the 2012 application is 2 July. Semi-finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges in July. Finalists will be named in August and invited to attend the award ceremony on 5 September at the University of Virginia where the winners will be announced.

The Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards are presented in part by sponsorship from Virginia Business magazine.

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