Economic diversity grant awarded


From the West Virginia Press Association



CHARLESTON — TechConnect West Virginia, an organization working to diversify West Virginia’s economy through innovations in advanced energy, chemicals and advanced materials, biometrics, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to spur innovation and entrepreneurship, long-term competitiveness and diversification and job creation across West Virginia.

The program, known as ScaleUp West Virginia, is a two-year suite of programs designed to accelerate the states’ capacity to diversify its economy in a 40-county region of West Virginia. The $500,000 grant will be matched with $210,000 of local funding, for a total project spend of $710,000.

Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnect, said, “The EDA funding will support programs designed to accelerate the commercialization of new products and technologies, leading to the creation and expansion of small businesses and jobs.”

“With EDA’s support, ScaleUp West Virginia will also foster advanced manufacturing and support small manufacturers in the state by working with proven service providers to catalyze the creation and retention of jobs and improve economic opportunities,” she added.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced the grant award on September 29.

Senator Manchin stated, “In order to improve West Virginia’s economic success and boost our economy, we need to ensure our public and private sectors work together. The strategies created and implemented with this funding will coordinate our resources efficiently to overcome our economic challenges and spur our economic growth and develop new opportunities across West Virginia.”

ScaleUp West Virginia will work to develop the next generation of entrepreneurship in West Virginia. The scope of work includes

• Promotion of SBIR/STTR programs in the state;

• ScaleUp WV Venture, in partnership with The INNOVA Commercialization Group at the High Technology Foundation;

• ScaleUp WV Advanced Manufacturing, in partnership with the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing at Marshall University;

• ScaleUp WV Design for Manufacturing, in partnership with the Center for Applied Research & Technology at Bluefield State College;

• ScaleUp WV Transformational Manufacturing, in partnership with the WV Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the WVU Industrial Extension;

• ChemAssist, in partnership with ChemCeption and the Chemical Alliance Zone;

• A variety of programs designed to spur the next generation of entrepreneurship in communities and schools.

Counties included in the service area include Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Roane, Taylor, Tyler, Tucker, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt and Wyoming.

ScaleUp West Virginia will accelerate the state’s capacity to foster business formation through programs designed to encourage entrepreneurship, help startups find the assistance needed to successfully launch, and support existing businesses in devising strategies for growing and adapting to new markets. It will accelerate opportunities for small manufacturers to create and retain jobs by helping them explore new and cutting edge innovations in products, process, and services leading to new and expanded markets opportunities. A new generation of entrepreneurs will be connected with mentors, investors and the resources needed to accelerate the launch of startup businesses. Through fostering this economic diversification, the region’s tax base will be expanded, private sector investment will be more easily attracted, and these programs will greatly advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the region by building the foundation for a cycle of growth to replace a cycle of decline.

TechConnect works to build a culture that supports innovation and entrepreneurship, access to capital, and a proactive business climate with incentives for innovation-based start-ups. For additional information, contact Anne Barth at (304) 444-2918.

From the West Virginia Press Association

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