ARLINGTON –Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a $175,000 grant to La Cocina VA, a nonprofit workforce development organization in Arlington County, to enhance its culinary skills training facility, create a business plan training course, and develop a small business competition. Program participants will have a chance to compete for business start-up awards in a small business competition. Winners will receive monetary prizes allowing them to start a new business or expand an existing business.
“I was impressed by La Cocina VA’s commitment to the community it serves after recently attending one of their graduation ceremonies,” said Governor McAuliffe. “These Virginians are striving to obtain the American Dream through hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit. I’m honored to announce this grant, which will further La Cocina’s workforce development efforts to provide more Virginians with the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs in the new Virginia economy.”
“It is encouraging to see grassroots efforts to connect people with low food access to emerging entrepreneurs in their community, striving to start food-related businesses,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, who presented the grant award at an announcement event on behalf of the Governor. “La Cocina’s new training courses and business plan competition will provide a framework for entrepreneurs to succeed, creating more jobs in the new Virginia economy. Improving food access and expanding economic opportunity are two sides of the same coin when it comes to achieving a stronger, healthier Virginia.”
La Cocina VA is working with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing on plans to occupy space along the Columbia Pike corridor for the expansion of its culinary facility. The organization trains the unemployed or underemployed, providing the necessary skills to obtain a higher-paying job within the food service industry. Individuals participate in a fully-funded bilingual course that provides job training, life skills, culinary certification, English language instruction, and job placement.
“We’re proud of the work the McAuliffe administration has done with the private sector and our statewide partners over the last three years to facilitate record-setting business investments across the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “But this private sector investment means nothing if we don’t have a skilled, capable workforce to fill the thousands of new jobs being created throughout Virginia. I look forward to the success of La Cocina VA, utilizing these funds to help hardworking individuals hone their skills and obtain higher-paying jobs in the new Virginia economy.”
This grant will expand the capacity of La Cocina VA to help new, resourceful and energetic entrepreneurs. It will also increase community awareness through the sharing of food prepared by participants with low-income community members that have a limited access to food.
“Most restaurant managers and owners start at the entry level,” added Patricia Funegra, Founder and CEO of La Cocina VA. “We’re helping low-income unemployed individuals become independent and self-supporting by developing career skills and entrepreneurship in the growing culinary field.”