Advantage Valley received a grant for $800,000 from the Robert C. Byrd Institute as funded through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER initiative and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to support a business coach/retention specialist housed within the Charleston Area Alliance, Huntington Area Development Council and the Putnam County Economic Development Authority.
The grant funds aim to improve the economic viability of manufacturing and related businesses that have been negatively affected due to the downturn in the coal industry. The business coach/retention specialists will be responsible for assessing target company needs and connecting them with the appropriate resources and service providers.
“Having an additional business retention specialist on board will allow the Alliance to reach out to more of our existing businesses in the Kanawha Valley,” said Matt Ballard, the Alliance’s CEO. “Enhancing our business retention and expansion program is a proven way for us to identify and address concerns and issues of our existing business base and to also identify opportunities to stimulate local job growth.”
As the coal industry has declined, so have many of the small-to-medium sized manufacturing companies that serve the industry.
“The decline in coal and related businesses has also severely impacted revenues to our state and local governments,” said Terrell Ellis, executive director of Advantage Valley. This grant will provide companies operating in the Advantage Valley region with assistance to identify and expand marketing opportunities, with the goal of helping them increase sales and employment.”
Ellis said the grant will identify coal supply chain companies operating in the region; assign Business Coaching/Retention Specialists to at least 70 supply chain companies; create a resource advisory panel comprised of assistance providers such as the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, WVU Industrial Extension/Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, BridgeValley Community and Technical College, WV Development Office, and capital access representatives; and form a technical assistance grants pool to help businesses offset the cost, as needed, of technical assistance.
Advantage Valley is a private nonprofit organization representing the Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia metropolitan statistical areas. In West Virginia, the region is represented by Boone, Cabell, Clay, Kanawha, Lincoln, Putnam and Wayne Counties with a combined population of nearly 600,000 persons.
For additional information, contact Ellis at 304-342-6972.