The West Virginia Community Development Hub will receive $46,000 for its community economic development efforts in Boone and Lincoln counties. Focusing specifically on Madison and Hamlin, the project will work on the “diversified growth” of the towns by helping small businesses and encouraging sustainability. This is the second year the project received funding from GKVF, and the money will go toward supporting community teams that help service local entrepreneurs, as they work on developing ideas.
Offering networking opportunities can provide businesses and communities with resources they didn’t even know they had.
The Harrison County Chamber of Commerce hosted its a monthly ‘Business @ Breakfast’ as a way to provide local business owners a chance to communicate and learn about resources in our area. Friday’s event featured a panel on community development. Leaders said they are many types of community development activities happening all over Harrison County.
“From recreation, you have the Robinson Grand renovation going on in downtown Clarksburg, you have the Bridgeport Recreation Complex, you have the Rail Trails through Salem and Shinnston,” said Kathy Wagner, president of the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce.
‘Business @ Breakfast’ events are held the first Friday of every month and is at the Courtyard Marriott in White Oaks. May will be Small Business Awareness month and will feature small businesses.
There’s a national storyline about West Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania, and it goes something like this: As the steel and coal industries fade, small towns are dying out. But for the past twenty years, some entrepreneurs have quietly been working on a different narrative, one that harnesses the natural beauty in these areas to build the economy.
About 10 years ago, after being downsized from a job in computer sales, Rod Darby wanted control of his career. He drew up a business plan for a pub and restaurant in West Newton, a small Pennsylvania town along the still-developing Great Allegheny Passage. The GAP bike trail, as its known, stretches 150 miles, from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland. Darby shopped his pub idea around.
BY BREANNA COLLINS, ENERGIZING ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITIES VISTA, THE HUB
“Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities Small Business Spotlights”
Through the Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities program, currently in Boone, Lincoln, Wyoming and Taylor Counties, community coaches have been working with core team members in each of these areas to conduct surveying efforts to business owners in their community. Small businesses that have completed and returned their surveys are being spotlighted as a way to recognize who and what these small businesses are that are helping drive each communities economy and as a thank you for participating in our surveying efforts.
“Lincoln County Friends of the Arts”
WHO ARE YOU/WHAT/WHERE?
Lincoln County Friends of the Arts
Located at 8112 Court Avenue (Route 3) in Hamlin, we are many things. We are a history, art and tourism gallery for Lincoln County. We want to preserve and cultivate our county’s history, culture and the arts. The gallery displays revolving photo exhibits, albums, and other artifacts. We also promote and provide information on tourism and events in the area and our state. Arts and crafts from local artisans are on display and for sale, as well as books about the area and by local authors. In March (14th) we are having our first “Pop Up Bakery” featuring homemade goodies to take or enjoy at the gallery with friends and neighbors. We will continue to have these bakeries throughout the year as a place to “meet and greet and have a tasty treat”! Encouraging the arts, we offer a multitude of various workshops throughout the year such as painting, quilting, tie dying, loom weaving, clay creations and yoga..We plan on offering Summer Arts camps for children throughout the county this summer including art, science, music and movement. We are also an event and meeting space for the community. ☺
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN OPEN?
We originally began back in 2006 but our recent reorganization and the opening of our gallery has been since spring 2017.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO OPEN (THIS BUSINESS) IN THIS COMMUNITY? The original founder and President of Friends of the Arts (FOA), Katie Thacker: “I have always had a great appreciation for the arts whether its visual arts, music, dance, crafts, all of it and I wanted to have a space in our community for people to come together to enjoy, preserve and participate in the arts!”
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHERS WANTING TO START A BUSINESS IN THIS COMMUNITY? There’s a lot happening in Lincoln County right now and in particular, the downtown area of Hamlin, our county seat. An ongoing effort at revitalization and beautification by many area groups is beginning to show and we encourage anybody wanting to be a part and start a businesses here during this exciting time! Do a lot of planning to think everything through and BE PATIENT.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE COMMUNITY TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU DO? First, we’d like them simply to know we’re here! We are open to the community so come on in and visit, look around and chat anytime we’re open (Monday-Thursday 12:30-3:30) and join us for one of our many events or workshops. You can find flyers about these either at our gallery or throughout the area. We also have a Facebook page: Lincoln County Friends of the Arts
Who are you and what/where is your business?
Carnivore BBQ, Hamlin area, mobile or Pop-Up food vendor.
How long have you been open or in business?
Why did you choose to open this business in this community?
This is HOME.
It’s always been a dream of mine to have a business that I can enjoy.I love cooking and feeding people. BBQ was a good fit for us, being mobile, we can travel or stay in our community.
What would you say to people wanting to start a business in this community?
Take a chance, you will make mistakes- learn and grow from it. Know your audience and what they want.
What would you like the community to know about you and what you do?
We are a new business that started as a competition BBQ team. We set up at different sites. We serve made from scratch food with the “Farm to Table” concept. When possible, we support local businesses.
Who are you and what/where is your business?
Appalachian Flow LLC is an individually run yoga business located in downtown Grafton of Taylor County at 34 W. Main Street.
How long have you been in business?
We began offering free yoga classes in September of 2017 and officially began to function as a business mid November of 2017.
Why did you choose to open a business in this community?
As a lifetime resident of Grafton, I dreamed of bringing a yoga business into my community for about 3 years before making my dream a reality. Through bringing yoga and holistic living options to the community we’ve begun to bring new culture and healthy lifestyle options into Grafton so community members have the choice to obtain services they desire within their county line.
What would you say to people wanting to start a business in this community?
Go for it! New businesses are beginning to pop up in Grafton and Taylor County as a whole and community members seem to be very receptive and appreciative of the available options. So I encourage anyone thinking of opening a business here to take the necessary steps and follow your dream!
What would you like the community to know about you?
Appalachian Flow LLC is a newly established business located on Main Street in Grafton. We currently have one yoga instructor holding 5 classes a week for all ages and levels and try to create a space of acceptance and non intimidation to make newcomers and regulars feel welcome, comfortable and safe. Our goal is to establish a yoga community in Grafton by offering new exercise and mindfulness options as well as other holistic living workshops.
An increased role of agriculture in West Virginia could serve as a solution to the state’s economic diversity problem, officials said Monday during an agriculture subcommittee meeting on Senate Bill 375, relating to farmers markets.
The bill would transfer rules and regulations of farmers markets from the Department of Health and Human Resources to the Department of Agriculture. It would also change permitting processes for vendors and markets.
Crescent Gallagher, director of communications and legislative liaison for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, said the department wants to see small farmers grow their operations.
“That would happen best under the department of agriculture, where the expertise exists, where the issues are better understood,” he said. “We want to reduce burdens and regulations on the farmers.
Andrea Duke gets her pawpaws the way many do. She forages for them.
She and her mother were at Fort Boreman Park in Parkersburg last year picking “West Virginia bananas” when she thought of a new recipe.
Duke used her bounty to make pulp, added cinnamon and sugar, and called it “pawpaw butter.”
Now the product is a favorite in her line of small batch jams and jellies made from locally grown and harvested fruits. Her Parkersburg-based company is cleverly named “In A Jam!”
The Community Leadership Academy (CLA) helps emerging and established leaders develop their leadership skills.
The academy provides community leaders with a solid foundation in public organizational and financial management. Topics emphasize enhancing personal leadership skills and providing an understanding of current, complex issues affecting communities.
The academy unites community leaders, elected officials, economic developers, Chambers of Commerce, business owners and civic-minded residents of West Virginia and nearby states.
The Opportunity Zones Program is a new community development program established by Congress as a result of Public Law 115-97, also known as the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
The Opportunity Zones Program gives each state’s Governor the authority to designate Opportunity Zones, or areas of populations that are eligible to receive private investments through Opportunity Funds. While the designation does not guarantee private sector investment, it does make it eligible under Federal guidelines. The program is designed to drive long lasting investments into rural and low-income urban communities in every U.S. state and territory.
As a counselor, teacher, and musician, Huntingtonian Mark Smith has made a name for himself educating others and doing his part to create a smarter, kinder Tri-State.
But, of late, he is increasingly also known for elevating the area’s beverage game as one of the first homebrewers to take kombucha to market.
Winners of $10,000 from the Strong Mountain Communities program at the first-ever West Virginia Good Jobs Conference at Tamarack in Beckley in November, Mark Smith and his wife Gina Hart-Smith have spun their exploration of a healthy hobby – brewing kombucha – into an official side business that has launched in Huntington.
BY: DAN TAYLOR, ENERGIZING ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITIES PROGRAM COORDINATOR, THE HUB
The Hub is working to encourage and support more entrepreneurship and small business in West Virginia, through programs like Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities, which is working in Grafton, Madison – Danville, Lincoln and Wyoming Counties. So, we are always excited when we come across innovative new models to promote!
And this is the case in Parkersburg, where Unity Cafe, a barista-operated cafe has recently opened downtown. This new business starting up was also the first loan for Cooperation Central Appalachia.
Cooperation Central Appalachia is “working to build a new economy in Appalachia that is based on democratic principles, radical inclusion of communities marginalized in the current system, and that builds community wealth. The way Coop Central Appalachia works to make this change is through a model combining comprehensive business development services with lending specifically designed for worker and producer cooperatives.”
“Worker cooperatives, where everyone is a decision-maker, are usually hard to fund by traditional means such as banks just because they are unfamiliar structures, says CCA member Brandon Nida. “This loan fund, which is anchored by two larger organizations, The Working World and Southern Reparations Loan Fund, provides financing and business development services specifically tailored to cooperatives.”
Another angle to CCA’s approach is that the loan fund is designed to connect resources to communities that have been historically been shut out of traditional investment and financing, such as black communities and rural coalfield communities. “The aim is to get financing to people in these communities so they can start the kinds of businesses, such as cooperatives, that help build and anchor wealth in their communities.”
Check out this great story that Clutch MOV recently did about Unity Cafe – and go check them out next time you are in Parkersburg!
From the article:
“We love to make coffee for the city that loves to drink it.” That quote is the first thing you see when you walk up to Unity Café, and it is a quote that their whole team believes in. Unity Café is a unique café and eatery that serves delicious American and Bulgarian items. The owner, Petia Johnson, has a 7-year background in coffee and was looking for a new opportunity when she united with three baristas Dakota Full, Eric Snuffer, and ReNae Phillips. Unity Café is a barista operated café; what this means is that the baristas all work together to run the café instead of having a manager over them. The incentive behind this type of operation is that everyone gets a percent of the yearly earnings. Petia stressed that Unity Café is a co-op business because she recognizes that everyone has their own gift, and often times someone’s gift is not used to its full potential. She referred to the baristas as “members” saying that they all have their own voice and input in the café. Having heard about their philosophy and the way they operate, it was easy to see why they settled on the name Unity Café.”