Beckley, W.Va. (September 8, 2023) – The West Virginia Hive, the entrepreneurial arm of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), secured a $99,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program that will finance phase one renovations to 111 Main Street in Beckley for additional business incubation and retail space.
Judy Moore, executive director of the WV Hive and deputy director of NRGRDA, said once all phases of the project have been completed, more than 11,000 square feet of space on Main Street will be available to entrepreneurs participating in the WV Hive’s Accelerator Expansion initiative.
Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold and the City Council have already made considerable investment into the building that can be counted as match toward the overall project. Upon construction completion, the City will be leasing the space to the West Virginia Hive for retail and incubation space. “This small business accelerator center will not only offer space for entrepreneurs but will also create jobs and attract more people to downtown Beckley,” Rappold said. “This is a wise investment for the city and beneficial to the region. We knew the donation of this building to the City would help spark new life into our downtown.”
Moore said as soon as phase one renovations are complete 2,500 square feet of Main Street storefront space will be available for four business offices and 12 retailers. She said work will begin as soon as permitting and contractor schedules are completed. The renovation is scheduled to be finished within two years. Additional renovations and expansions will come in phases two through four. Once all phases have been completed, more than 11,000 square feet of space will be operational.
The optimum goals of the USDA grant (within three years of opening the space for occupancy), according to Moore, call for the WV Hive to assist in the creation of 12 new businesses resulting in 18 jobs. Additionally, the WV Hive will continue serving entrepreneurs across the region by offering retail space for 60 businesses to test products, various business-related courses for 125 participants, and other entrepreneur-related assistance for 225 participants.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Ryan Thorn, West Virginia’s State Director of USDA Rural Development, announced $14,860,642 in grants on August 31 for 13 projects, which will build economic prosperity across West Virginia.
Other significant USDA grants that will benefit the NRGRDA region include:
- $5,000,000 loan guarantee to Gainwell Engineering in Fayette County
This funding will be used to purchase equipment and make facility updates for operations in Hico. The business will be creating 18 jobs and saving 22.
- $4,344,000 loan guarantee to Appalachian Stave West Virginia in Nicholas County
This financing will be used to purchase equipment and support the capital needs of Appalachian Stave West Virginia, which is based in Calvin and manufactures wood staves used for the production of oak barrels.
- $50,000 grant to the City of Smithers in Fayette County
This federal grant will complete renovations to a building being used for a new business startup.
- $50,000 grant to Seed Sower, Inc. in Fayette County
This funding will be used to purchase a multi-passenger vehicle to transport clients to and from appointments. Seed Sower operates a substance use disorder treatment center that serves the city of Montgomery in Fayette County.
The WV Hive was created in 2016 with funding provided by an Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant. Moore said the physical location of this project is in Raleigh County; however, WV Hive serves a much broader region and includes Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, Wyoming, McDowell, Logan, and Mingo counties. Of these counties, eight are distressed, three are at-risk, and two are transitional counties.