NRGRDA Elevates Staff to Respond to Outdoor Recreation Economy, Needs of Gateway Communities
Andy Davis and Mary Legg Receive Promotions
Beckley, W.Va. (July 21, 2021) – Senior staff at the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) are being promoted to new positions within the organization to respond to increased local and regional business, community, and economic outdoor industry needs.
Effective July 1, 2021, Andrew “Andy” Davis is the new Manager of Gateway Community Initiatives and Mary Legg has moved into the Outdoor Industry Business Advisor role at the NRGRDA’s WV Hive. Davis, hired in December 2020 as Special Projects Coordinator, has become the point person for the regional development of infrastructure assets related to the growth of the outdoor recreation economy and focuses his efforts on increasing the capacity and presence of the gateway communities of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Legg, a Business Advisor at the WV Hive since March 2020, is now focusing her expertise with firms in the gateway communities in Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, and Raleigh Counties.
Jina Belcher, executive director of NRGRDA, said “Andy and Mary have both stepped up to the plate and will be solely focused on accelerating the outdoor economy of the New River Gorge region. The National Park designation elevated the outdoor industry economic opportunities that have always been present across the region. Andy and Mary are prepared to provide dedicated capacity to expedite resources and technical assistance to the region’s gateway communities.”
Hoppy Kercheval Welcomed Communities of Healing on WV MetroNews Talkline
Jay Phillips, Seed Sower Inc. Executive Director, joins current Communities of Healing Participants, Chris Adams and Adam Hodges on Hoppy Kercheval's Talkline. Jay explains the backbones of the program. Chris, Appalachian Furnishings owner, and Adam, MuttonChops owner, tell us how this program is helping them in their entrepreneurial journey.
Opportunity for Businesses to Participate in Recovery-to-Work Program
BECKLEY, W.Va. – The Communities of Healing recovery-to-work program has announced registration is open for a Fall 2021 cohort for small business and social enterprise leaders who are interested in providing employment to local citizens recovering from addiction. The goal is to recruit 10 businesses.
The first cohort of area businesses is currently finishing four months of training and will soon be hiring people to work in the food, hospitality, tourism, and agriculture sectors. A Communities of Healing Gathering is scheduled for August 2. It will serve as a graduation of those in the first cohort who have completed the training, as well as the start of the Fall cohort of businesses selected.
Chris Adams, owner of Appalachian Furnishings in Rock View, is a participant in the current training cohort. “Effective change requires more than good intentions or a good heart,” said Adams. “It requires planning, understanding and execution. I encourage other businesses to join me on this journey.”
Judy Moore, director of the West Virginia Hive Network based in Beckley, said the cultivation of local businesses and entrepreneurs is a key component to addressing the opioid crisis in Appalachia and in improving the response to substance use disorder. “The Communities of Healing program is designed to spur small business development and employ West Virginians healing from addiction through the growth of social entrepreneurship.” She said it is built on the success of Fruits of Labor, a culinary program based in Rainelle, that has years of experience working with those in recovery.
Tammy Jordan, president of Fruits of Labor, said her organization’s success is meaningful because “change happens in ourselves, our families, and our communities as we understand better how to become part of that change. When we are growing and investing, we have space to create a place of healing, a community of healing, and to hold the space needed for those in recovery to invest in their own healing journey.”
Moore and Jordan hope additional businesses will register and learn more about the Communities of Healing. Businesses currently being trained in the program and set for August 2 graduation include:
- Chris Adams, Appalachian Furnishings, Rockview, WV;
- Samantha Phillips, Sage and Lila Company, Beaver, WV;
- Maxine Johnson, Appalachian Artistic Adventures, Princeton, WV;
- Brittany Massaroni, Armadio Luxury Exchange, Princeton, WV;
- Amy Patterson, Sandstone General Store and Eatery, Sandstone, WV;
- Yvonne Ortiz, Heavenly Sweet Pastries, Meadow Bridge, WV;
- Adam Hodges, MuttonChops, Oak Hill, WV;
- Jennifer Gilkerson, Sunset Berry Farm & Produce, Alderson, WV;
- Trey Yates, Greenbrier Dairy, Alderson, WV; and
- James Birt, Housed-Up; Fayetteville, WV.
Registration for the Fall cohort will close the week of July 19, 2021.
The WV Hive is a partner in the Communities of Healing program and has assisted with its startup, including recruiting cohort participants, and offering the Co.Starters Get Started workshop, the first step of the training journey. Staff of the WV Hive also provide business advisor support for businesses and entrepreneurs that desire to have social impact surrounding recovery efforts in southern West Virginia communities.
The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded a three-year grant to the Region 4 Planning and Development Council in Summersville in 2020 for the startup of this program. The “Creating Communities of Healing by Cultivating Businesses to Address the Opioid Crisis” project is also supported by Seed Sower, Inc., Wright Venture Services, Region 1 Workforce Development Board, and the Region IV Planning and Development Council.
The WV Hive is the entrepreneurship program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority and the administrator of the Country Roads Angel Network. More information about the WV Hive can be found at https://wvhive.com/.
Registration for the Fall cohort of the Communities of Healing program can be completed at https://www.fruitsoflaborinc.com/communities-of-healing.
NRGRDA’s Jina Belcher Selected As 2021 Generation Next ’40 Under 40’
Jina Belcher, executive director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), has been recognized by the state business journal as one of its 2021 Generation Next ’40 Under 40’ recipients.
Each year the WV News and The State Journal honor 40 West Virginians under the age of 40 who are “making a difference in their business and communities.” This year’s awards ceremony was held June 17 at the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center in downtown Clarksburg.
“It is important for young leaders in the Mountain State to see their efforts appreciated,” said Belcher. “I love my job and am blessed to be in a pivotal position to help advance community and economic development in southern West Virginia where I grew up and went to college.”
Organization Looking For Next Business Investment In W.Va.
Country Roads Angel Network is accepting applications from entrepreneurs looking to help start a business and diversify the economy across the state.
The investor network serves all 55 counties. Start-ups based in any West Virginia county would be eligible to apply for coaching and financial support.
Country Roads Angel Network was created under parent organization, New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), which serves four counties in southern West Virginia. The organization is administered by the West Virginia Hive, a 12-county entrepreneurial support program.
The network is made possible by investors from across the country who in large part are native West Virginians looking to support business talent in their home state.
A start-up in Morgantown was selected as the inaugural business for the program. Iconic Air, a software platform that locates emission leaks, secured $135,000 late last year.
More information about how to apply for support can be found on the Country Roads Angel Network investment page.
USDA State Director Kris Warner, WV Development Office Executive Director Michael Graney, West Virginia Hive Leaders Join To Open New Business Hub and Recognize Local Businesses
Beckley, W.Va. – The West Virginia Hive and its parent, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), celebrated on Oct. 16, 2020, the opening of its new offices, business hub and co-working space in downtown Beckley with remarks of appreciation, ribbon cutting, awards presentations, a Facebook Live session and tours of the new space.
Kris Warner, State Director for Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was the keynote speaker at the 9:30 a.m. ribbon cutting for the newly-renovated facility, which is in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone. “We are pleased to be able to help the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority as they work towards connecting businesses and communities in the New River Gorge region with the resources they need to thrive,” said Warner. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has continued to work untiringly as a strong partner to the Mountain State, because we know that when rural West Virginia thrives, all of America thrives.”
Judy Moore, Director of the West Virginia Hive, said her focus at the Hive has been on working closely with business leaders on new start-ups, growth and innovation with an emphasis on learning where barriers to success exist. “This expansive facility offers our staff and our clients first-class space, technology, and resources to create more jobs and grow the local and regional economies.”
Two USDA grants and a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant were catalysts for the new business development accelerator.
During opening remarks, Moore cited the many people who were instrumental in the new facility becoming a reality:
- Beckley Mayor Robert Rappold
- Leaders of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority
- Pastor Mitchell and members of the Beckley Presbyterian Church
- Massey Family Foundation
- Michael Graney of the West Virginia Development Office
- Kris Warner with the USDA
- Tracey Rowan with the EDA
- Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. Carol Miller
Members of the West Virginia Congressional delegation were effusive in their praise of the West Virginia Hive and its mission.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said, “The West Virginia Hive Business Hub provides southern West Virginia entrepreneurs a space to work, collaborate, and foster new ideas to spur economic development in the region. The Hub will support innovation and job growth through small businesses and entrepreneurs in the area, helping to revitalize the coalfields and boost the regional economy. Today is a great day for Beckley and southern West Virginia as the Hive opens its doors to West Virginians. I greatly appreciate the investment made by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and all those who made today a reality. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this center in the years to come.”
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, underscored the federal role in economic development. “As our state continues to diversify our economy, we need the tools to support this growth. The Beckley Hive is a perfect example of a support network that helps to foster the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation we are seeing throughout the state and continue to promote. I have been a longtime supporter of this facility—advocating and securing funding for the Hive, as well as hosting Appalachian Regional Commission Co-Chair Tim Thomas at the original facility recently to see the good work happening there. I’m thrilled to see the Hive expanding, allowing even more opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners the chance to hone their business plan and accelerate their visions to reality. I will continue supporting economic growth and diversity by advocating for resources at the federal level, which will give aspiring entrepreneurs a better chance at achieving the American Dream. EDA and USDA investments in West Virginia are making a difference, and I’m proud to continue working so that projects like the Hive receive the funding it deserves.”
U.S. Rep. Carol Miller added, “I am thrilled to see the West Virginia Hive Network expand and open new offices today. The WV Hive Network plays a crucial role in supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs in our community. I thank the Trump Administration for providing the funds for this project and investing in rural America.”
Moore recognized business and university leaders with annual West Virginia Hive awards, including:
- 2020 Small Business of the Year: Analabs, Inc.
- 2020 Business Startup of the Year: Dumas Psychology Collective & The Brain Training Center
- 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year: Alison Ibarra, Pinheads Bowling Center
- 2020 Social Enterprise of the Year: Appalachian Furnishings
- 2020 Partners of the Year: Dr. Carolyn Long, President of WVU Institute of Technology; the Region 1 Workforce Development Board; and the Beckley Presbyterian Church
- 2020 Community Advocate of the Year: Ann Worley
The West Virginia Hive has served 306 businesses and helped launch 44 businesses in its service area. It is currently assisting 79 clients with business advising and technical assistance support on business modeling, financing, human resources, marketing and other services.
The new facility is nearly 4,000 square feet of space, strategically located in downtown Beckley and within walking distance to the West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech) Campus. The business hub includes multiple flex/co-working space options (rentable by the day, week, or month) and overhead (utilities, wi-fi, and access to shared administrative services); shared space, including kitchenette, sitting areas, small and large conference areas; and a staffed reception area. Other services are accessible, including one-on-one business advising and access to technical assistance funds; trainings and networking events, designed with the needs of the tenants and Beckley’s business community involved; specialized technology and software for clients; video conferencing; copier access; and printer access. Not only will this space address a need for the business owner -- a professional space with little to no overhead as well as professional services -- but it will provide a place for entrepreneurs to network on an organic basis and instill a water cooler culture in southern West Virginia so business collaboration can lead innovation.
The NRGRDA led efforts to secure another EDA grant to offer angel investment opportunities statewide through the Country Roads Angel Network (CRAN). “Supporting entrepreneurs in West Virginia, CRAN provides accredited investors the opportunity to invest in and, where beneficial, mentor West Virginia based start-ups,” Moore said. “The network’s purpose is to provide opportunities for investors to create financial returns, while providing a much needed, missing piece of the entrepreneurial financing ecosystem in West Virginia.”
Specific information about the West Virginia Hive can be found at https://wvhive.com/. The Hive is the entrepreneurship program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority and the administrator of the Country Roads Angel Network.