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Southern WV Rural Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Partnership Celebrated

October 29, 2012

Congressman Nick J. Rahall celebrates the Accelerator Partnership grant award at RCBI with project participants on Oct. 23.

The Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator targets the nine (9) southernmost counties of West Virginia – Fayette, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers, Logan, Mingo and Wyoming. It is a partnership of five key organizations that have existing strengths and capabilities to assist businesses and to accelerate success: Marshall University Research Corporation, Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI), TechConnect West Virginia, Concord University Research & Development Corporation and the Natural Capital Investment Fund.

Through these groups, the Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator will provide a layered, coordinated and multi-dimensional effort and provide technical assistance, workforce development, entrepreneurism support and a wealth of collaborated resources.  These will be focused on building upon existing regional assets, particularly those in the tourism and advanced manufacturing clusters. This program will include seven coordinated activities:

(1) outreach efforts that concentrate on training a quality workforce with high-end skill sets;

(2) fast-tracking certification and degree programs offered to bolster the qualifications of individuals and companies needed for advanced manufacturing;

(3) training, technical assistance, financial assistance, and the sharing of  knowledge and resources to empower small-to-medium sized businesses and budding  entrepreneurs in advanced manufacturing and tourism;

(4) grantsmanship assistance to local governments and community organizations;

(5) mobile app development, and e-business marketing assistance;

(6) expansion on a closely linked resource network of businesses, vendors, community and government agencies, financial resources, academia; and

(7) educational and training programs that specifically support the identified clusters.

This accelerator program will build upon and expand existing efforts and leverage new successful initiatives, such as the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail system, the $500 million high-adventure Boy Scout complex, investments in the state’s parks and other recreation facilities, among others.

Moreover, southern West Virginia has great potential for the re-development of manufacturing companies and jobs because of its skilled workforce and available advanced manufacturing assets, such as those provided by RCBI.  These include providing companies with access to its sophisticated Design Labs, rapid-prototyping equipment and 3-D printers, which will enable small and mid-sized manufacturers to participate in this coming revolution of U.S. manufacturing capabilities and reshoring of American jobs.

In addition, this initiative will have the active involvement of a strong cadre of industrial partners from the manufacturing sector, nonprofit organizations, and regional businesses. These include the West Virginia Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, which will serve  in a consultative and advisory capacity for manufacturing start-ups, advanced  manufacturing training programming, and current manufacturing trends. The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) also will service this cluster for current industry skill-set attainment and the development of advanced manufacturing training programs.

Finally, one of the most important aspects of the Southern West Virginia Rural Jobs Accelerator is not only the partnership of these five organizations, but also the strong, united support from Congressman Rahall, the U.S. EDA, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the USDA, Governor Tomblin’s office and the state Development Office.

To learn more, contact: Tom Minnich, Project Manager at 304.720.7739 or email tminnich@rcbi.org.