Forum paves way for location of company in Huntington
The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
December 11, 2016
Andrew Zulauf, Michele O’Connor, and Jordan Lavender
The West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust (WVJIT) is a public venture capital fund created to develop, promote and expand West Virginia’s economy by making investment funds available to eligible businesses. We take our charge seriously and work daily to grow jobs in West Virginia.
As most recognize, our economy is undergoing tumultuous change. New company formation has been lagging. However, a recent, serendipitous meeting has led to both a new business startup and the potential for a whole new industry in the state.
TechConnect West Virginia, an organization led by Anne Barth and an impactful board of directors, including our own Michele O’Connor and state commerce executive director Keith Burdette, held a forum in April titled “Growing Innovation in the Mountain State.” It was a fascinating event focusing on the need to grow the innovation economy in West Virginia, encouraging entrepreneurship and creating high-wage jobs.
Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit and a native of Kenova, headlined the event and offered, “We all have a remarkable opportunity to bring new jobs to West Virginia by fostering further development of technology and innovation-based businesses across the state. We have the entrepreneurial talent, we have the educational institutions ready to help train, and we are ready to work together to quickly realize this success.” His comments were inspirational and to some degree prophetic.
It was at this event that we met Joe Maxwell, a financial technology venture fund founder and a native of Huntington. He informed us of plans by Nashville entrepreneurs Jeff Martin and Lee Farabaugh, both of whom have extensive experience in running companies in the software development space, to form a new company by the name of Core10. The company would create financial technology, or “fintech,” software solutions for the banking, health care, insurance and retail industries.
Better yet, we were informed the company was to be based on the “Hereshore” business model. The Hereshore business model brings technology jobs to communities in the U.S. that are rich in talent but may have lower costs of living – or other competitive factors – compared to major metropolitan areas or foreign countries. This meant that West Virginia information technology graduates, software coders and application developers would have an opportunity to find employment in their field here at home.
We were excited to learn about the company and, after multiple meetings and conducting our own due diligence, offered JIT’s assistance in helping Core10 raise the funds necessary to get off the ground.
We were able to move quickly once given the greenlight. Our organization made the lead investment in Core10 and also helped facilitate other investors, to include several from West Virginia. Beyond the capital investment, JIT has worked in collaboration with Core10 to help them get operational in West Virginia.
The company opened its Huntington office at the beginning of November with three graduates of Marshall University’s College of Information Technology & Engineering. By the end of 2017, the company plans to grow to several dozen software developers and engineers.