At a symposium at Marshall University Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-W.Va.) brought together small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them learn more about available Federal resources that can spur job creation and innovation in southern West Virginia.
"Especially in this tough economy, increasing access to affordable credit and technical assistance for our small business owners and entrepreneurs can pay handsome dividends for our communities. We can create jobs and grow the economy by fostering public-private partnerships and taking full advantage of the Federal resources available, and I am actively working to do so," said Rahall.
Rahall invited representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and USDA Rural Development, as well as the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, TechConnect, and the Natural Capital Investment Fund, to participate in the Huntington symposium. Joining Rahall for the opening plenary session was SBA Regional Administrator Natalia Olson-Urtegho and Judy McCauley, Director, SBA West Virginia District Office.
Rahall, who has been a champion of the pioneering Rural Jobs Accelerator Grant Program, which aims to pool resources of Federal economic development agencies to develop niche sectors of the economy in southern West Virginia -- such as tourism, advanced manufacturing, and agribusiness -- highlighted the importance of leveraging local assets and making available technical assistance, access to capital, and workforce training to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
"There are a slew of business and job opportunities awaiting our entire region, with game-changers like the Boy Scouts of America Reserve and the Hatfield and McCoy Trail System putting lasting roots down in our economy, opportunities are loudly knocking on our doors. The series of workshops I have launched today are designed to let entrepreneurs know what Federal help is available to assist them as they look to grow and excel," said Rahall.
"In the future, our downtowns, commercial districts and industrial parks in the cyber and global economy can grow and operate centered around business and industry clusters. It makes sense in these austere times, because it really is about making the best use of our scarce resources, while taking advantage of the wealth of experience of entrepreneurs and our State's workforce, as well as helping to increase access to common capital and marketing efforts," said Rahall.
The next symposiums are scheduled for tomorrow in Beckley and Bluefield.