Nelson County Entrepreneurs Helped by VIDA Program

03 10 15 ULA Tortilla (5)In the 1970s, I borrowed $2,500 from my dad to buy a soybean grinder, the equipment I needed to expand my tofu company.  I had been making it in my kitchen with a blender and a large pot, and it was time to take it to the next level.  That next level proved to be too many hours and too little money, so I sold the business to a friend and headed off to law school.

Flash forward to 2015, and a meeting with the owners of ULA Tortilla, an organic tortilla business located in Nelson County.  Stephanie Murray and James Price are willing to put in the hours, but they needed capital to take their business to the next level.  A chance encounter with a Piedmont Housing employee led them to the VIDA (Virginia Individual Development Account) program.  VIDA participants take classes and save up to $2,000, which is matched 2:1 by the state.

For Stephanie & James, that means their $4,000 in savings will result in an additional $8,000.  So far they have invested in a Mexican-made “LENIN” tortilla making machine, which increased their hourly production from 20 dozen to 150 dozen fresh yummy tortillas.  The rest of their VIDA savings will go to a new stone grinder, which will allow them to ramp up production each day, and expand production to more days a week.

Not all of us have a dad, or a sugar daddy, to help get us started on our dream.  For dreamers (and hard workers) like Stephanie & James, the VIDA program is giving them the hand up they need to build a successful business.