A ceremonial check representing the seed capital matching grant funding approved for Preston Ball Photography, LLC, was presented recently to Preston Ball, center, owner of the photography business. On hand for the presentation were Jonathan Belcher, left, VCEDA executive director/general counsel; and Margie Douglass, right, director of the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College.

LEBANON, VA – JULY 9, 2019 – For Preston Ball, photography started out as more of a hobby, but he soon found out that his services as a photographer had value and as a result, he decided to pursue starting a photography business of his own.

Since December, Preston Ball Photography LLC has offered sports photography services as well as drone, portrait, wedding and commercial photography services. The new business was recently approved for a $10,000 seed capital matching grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).

Ball currently works at Southwest Virginia Community College, but in the evening hours and on weekends, he finds himself busy, photographing weddings, using a drone he purchased to capture real estate photographs and capturing sports images, which are one of his specialties.

“VCEDA was pleased to assist Preston in the start-up of his new photography business,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The seed capital matching grant program was designed to assist local entrepreneurs in pursuing their ideas for new business while at the same time creating employment.”

Ball has been a photographer for 25 years and has done videography for two years. For him, it all started as he photographed his three daughters as they participated in various sporting events through the years. Other parents started asking him if he would take photos of their children as well which in turn led him to realize there was a real need for the service he could provide and as a result, he decided to start his photography business.

Ball worked with Margie Douglass, of the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College, in the development of his business plan and application to VCEDA.

“The seed capital grant has helped me in the purchase of new lighting for my photo shoots,” Ball said. “In the future, I hope to develop an indoor studio which will provide a space for more portrait photography.”

One of his specialties remains as capturing action sports shots and in doing sports photos and photos for various school teams at Lebanon High School. He hopes to branch out and offer the service to other Southwest Virginia schools as the new school year gets ready to start next month. Vinyl banner prints which can be displayed in the gym or on the field are one the products he develops from some of the sports photos. Other display options for photos also exist.

Ball has a contract with the Town of Lebanon to provide photos and video for the 2019 town bicentennial events and he also holds a contract with VA-Milesplit to provide track and field and cross country coverage for local high schools.

He holds an FAA Part 107 drone pilot license which broadens his ability to offer drone photo services. In addition to sports and wedding photography, Ball also takes photos of landscapes and nature in the region and will sell copies of his prints and ship anywhere in the U.S. through an online ordering system he is setting up on his new website, www.prestonballphotography.com, which is still under development. The business also has a Facebook page which is updated routinely with some of the images he captures.

Currently, Ball is the sole employee of the business, however, his business plans calls for the addition of two or three part-time employees within three years.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vaceda.org  or www.e-Region.org.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.