In the world of entrepreneurship, it’s often said that “two heads are better than one.” This age-old adage underscores a fundamental truth: Success in business rarely happens in isolation. In fact, partnerships are often the key to unlocking a world of opportunities and growth, as exemplified by the West Virginia Hive, the entrepreneurship program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA).
Entrepreneurs are known for their drive, passion and determination. They’re the ones who see opportunities where others see obstacles and are willing to take the risks necessary to turn their vision into reality. However, even the most dedicated and resourceful entrepreneurs can’t do it all alone. Thankfully, they turn to the services of the WV Hive. However, the WV Hive can’t do this work alone either.
Founded on the premise that collaboration and partnerships are essential for fostering economic growth and innovation, and necessary for providing business clients with all the resources they need, the West Virginia Hive has become a shining example of how collective efforts can yield remarkable results.
We have many wonderful partners who are all extremely important in the work we do at the Hive. This includes funding partners at the local, state, and federal level; academic partners statewide; and multiple support partners who provide resources to the business clients we serve.
One such partnership is with the Fruits of Labor Communities of Healing program – a meaningful opportunity to provide entrepreneurship support in the recovery-to-work ecosystem, supporting individuals who are seeking a second chance. Our partners in this work include Fruits of Labor, Seed Sower, Region 1 Workforce Development Board, Region 4 Planning and Development Council, and Wright Venture Services. The WV Hive plays a critical role in this partnership by providing training and business advising to businesses who are interested in hiring individuals in recovery. While our role is extremely important, without the other program partners we would not be able to do this work.
Our partnerships have also led to amazing opportunities allowing us to expand our reach and further our entrepreneurship support. The WV Hive’s partnership in the ACT (Appalachian Climate Technology) Now Coalition’s Community and Business Resilience Initiative (CBRI) is a great example how collaborating and being good partners with other organizations can create opportunities to participate in transformational work. A valued partnership with Advantage Valley created the opportunity for us to participate in this work and the privilege to work alongside them to provide entrepreneurship services throughout the 21-county service area. Thanks to the leadership of the Coalfields Development Corporation, the ACT Now Coalition grant established a robust coalition to build new economic development approaches and good-paying jobs in economically distressed regions in southern West Virginia. The grant award of $62.8 million, with an additional $26 million in match funding, was one of only 21 awards nationwide in the Build Back Better Regional Challenge.
There are multiple other partnerships in this ACT Now work, but one additional partnership is with the WV Community Development Hub, which is leading the CBRI project. In this project, The Hub provides its stellar community development services in 16 communities with its proven Accelerate WV program – a long-term planning program that works with a defined set of local leaders to set actionable Economic Resilience Plans for local development. Our work together on the CBRI project has strengthened our partnership, but our work together began with the Hive supporting The Hub with their Hub’s Communities of Achievement Program (HubCAP), which offers participating communities a time-tested curriculum to accelerate their community-led economic development efforts. Recently I was given the honor of sitting on The Hub’s board and seeing firsthand the amazing work the program is doing to strengthen communities statewide.
Partnerships are not just a nice-to-have in the world of entrepreneurship; they are an absolute necessity. The WV Hive’s success story is a testament to the transformative power of collaboration and the immense value that partnerships bring to the table. As we do the hard work of helping businesses to start, grow, and be extremely successful, we encourage our clients and allies to form valuable partnerships and explore the world of opportunities successful collaboration creates.
Judy Moore is executive director of the West Virginia Hive and deputy director of the NRGRDA. She is a Nicholas County resident and contributes her talents to the WV Community Development Hub, Tamarack Foundation for the Arts, and WV Women’s Business Center (advisory board).