For Immediate Release:
April 25, 2022
Primary Media Contact:
Public Relations Specialist
Laurel Ridge in collaboration with its Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council has created a unique resource that can be shared with the community and beyond – the Guide to Minority-Owned Businesses.
Laurel Ridge Associate Vice President of Human Resources JoAnn Ellwood encouraged the council to create the directory that could be distributed to potential new employees to demonstrate the diversity of the college’s service region.
“However, this task soon manifested into something even bigger as we realized that many other community members and organizations were looking to develop a list such as this,” said Council Chair Tajmarie Rowe. “It took the combined efforts of many folks to come up with this finished product.”
Laurel Ridge librarian Kerry Kilpatrick, who was part of the effort to create the business guide said the council decided to include the following minorities in the guide: women, BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color), first-generation immigrants, those with disabilities, veterans and people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Council member Andy Gyurisin reached out to various organizations, such as chambers of commerce and NAACP chapters, to see what was already available. What he discovered was a patchwork of businesses, but no cohesive, comprehensive guide.
“We realized this could be a really great community opportunity,” Gyurisin said.
He turned to the Laurel Ridge Small Business Development Center for help. Director Christine Kriz was able to pull information from a public database accessed via the Handley Regional Library System. The “enormous” list was then provided to Kerry Kilpatrick and library specialist Jennifer Gyurisin, who created the platform and input all of the listings.
“We are proud to be a part of this project and to enhance the economies of the communities we serve,” Kriz said.
Business owners are encouraged to visit the interactive site where they can submit new or updated information, Gyurisin said.
“We’re hoping that it becomes a living resource for everyone to use,” he said. “It feels like a great, interactive resource that the community can be involved with. It puts this great resource into one space.”
Visitors to the site can click on the city of Winchester or one of the following counties: Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren. From there, they can click on various business categories, such as advertising and media, automobile services, cleaning services, construction and home improvement, engineering, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, real estate, retail, and wineries and breweries.
The DEI Council advocates for a more diverse and inclusive campus and supports the college’s quest to be a supportive academic environment that is fully cognizant of individual differences. Rowe noted that the body is “committed to helping each person fulfill his/her potential for academic excellence.”
“DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) is a journey, not a one-stop shop,” said Rowe. “It certainly takes all of us to continue with the mission of being inclusive.”
View the directory at laurelridge.edu/minorityowned.
Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.
Laurel Ridge Community College (Laurel Ridge) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College. Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.