On September 9, 2020, Brad D. Smith sat down for a Q&A session with writer…
Brad D. Smith Discusses The Rising Number of West Virginia Startups
West Virginia is an opportune place for startups to thrive. From the eastern panhandle to southern West Virginia, the Mountain State has seen over 4,300 new businesses formed since 2010, along with a nearly 50% increase in business registrations since 2018 alone. Additionally, the West Virginia government has taken steps to encourage entrepreneurship in the state. Small businesses have access to streamlined online licensing through the West Virginia Secretary of State and the Department of Education established the Governor’s School of Entrepreneurship (GSE) to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit among the state’s youth population. GSE has been a featured program at Marshall University.
The state also offers a multitude of unique benefits for aspiring entrepreneurs. West Viginia BusinessLink boasts over 130 organizations as a network for startups. This allows small business owners to maintain independence while joining a community of entrepreneurs and resources to help them grow.
West Virginia University’s (WVU) Vantage Ventures is based out of WVU’s campus in Morgantown and is home to 29 startups. The organization provides these businesses with resources and experiences from the mountaineers’ team to grant entrepreneurs insight and advice to help them maintain a viable business.
Brad D. Smith has been a continuous supporter of startups in West Virginia. He serves on the advisory board for DignifiHealth, a startup focusing on healthcare management solutions. DignifiHealth creates exceptional patient and health system results by partnering with health systems on value-based healthcare, chronic disease management, care gap closure and more.
Empowering West Virginia residents
Considering all these benefits, it’s no surprise that West Virginia continues to see a rising number of startups. The advantages don’t end with government policies and resources, as the true advantage is in the West Virginia workforce.
New startups coming into the state means more profitable ventures creating jobs, solutions to problems and an overall added value to the lives of West Virginia residents. Startups come from a variety of industries including artificial intelligence, biotech and clean energy. Appalachian Botanical company is one of the more unique startups, focusing on sustainable agriculture across reclaimed coal mine land in the Appalachian Mountains.
With a range of industries entering West Virginia, the state’s economic health improves as its economy diversifies. This contributes to the creation of a more robust market and a path for sustainable economic growth and development. In turn, this helps to increase the number of stable jobs for residents.
Job development for West Virginia
One example of this can be seen with energy startup SPARKZ and its recent recruitment drive for West Virginia workers. The company announced plans to construct an electric battery factory in Taylor County.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia expressed his support for the SPARKZ battery plant project, stating, “Engaging our strong and capable workforce here in West Virginia to manufacture batteries domestically is critical to our energy independence and stability… The SPARKZ facility will create 350 good-paying, long-term jobs, and I look forward to seeing this initiative grow. We will continue to work closely together to bring battery manufacturing here to the United States so we don’t have to rely on foreign supply chains for our energy needs.”
Small startups make a big impact
Startups play a crucial role in expanding the West Virginia economy. As these entrepreneurs blaze a path and grow their businesses, they introduce innovation and inspiration to communities across the state.
Explore how thousands of other startups are making their mark on the state of West Virginia.