Floyd County: a community of entrepreneurs that sticks together (Roanoke Business)

Scott Pierce worked for Sherwin-Williams in Greensboro for 15 years before he cashed in his 401(k) and in 2011 moved with his wife Cassie and their two children to Floyd County, Virginia.

Eight months later, Scott and Cassie Pierce started a business making kombucha, a fermented tea that’s become popular as a pick-me-up packed with probiotics. They brewed at a kitchen in Willis and distributed their kombucha through regional farmers’ markets and the Harvest Moon health food store and Good Food Good People, both independently owned Floyd businesses selling local products.

Today, Buffalo Mountain Kombucha sells its products in Roanoke and the New River Valley. Earlier this year, the Pierces raised a little more than $16,000 on Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website. They will use the money to more than double their production from about 130 gallons to about 300 gallons per week, and they’re negotiating with retailers in North Carolina and the Washington, D.C., region.

The secret to their success?

“Quite honestly, the Floyd community sticks together,” says Cassie Pierce. “We support each other and lift one another up. That made it so easy” when it came to the Kickstarter campaign.

Buffalo Mountain Kombucha is one of many small independent businesses based in Floyd. Of the 15,528 people who live in the county, according to the U.S. Census, about 1,200 are self-employed. That’s more than double the state rate, says Lydeana Martin, Floyd County’s community and economic development director.

That figure doesn’t include part-time enterprises, whether it’s trading products grown on a homestead, repairing musical instruments or providing childcare. Floyd County is chock full of farms, some of which sell commercially and others which operate solely within the region’s burgeoning barter system.

Read more in my Floyd community profile in the June issue of Roanoke Business.