Grant will allow TechConnect to help innovators
By Angelee Wiley, Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT — A West Virginia company dedicated to diversifying the economy in West Virginia has received a grant that will benefit entrepreneurs from around the state, including Marion County.
TechConnect has received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The grant will be used to create innovation, competitiveness and diversity in West Virginia.
But this isn’t the first time TechConnect has received a grant from the U.S. EDA. Anne Barth, the executive director of TechConnect West Virginia, said the company also received grant money in 2011.
When TechConnect received the grant in 2011, officials used the money to start a project called StartUp. After receiving this most recent grant, Barth said officials will build off the StartUp program and begin a project called ScaleUp.
Barth said ScaleUp will help entrepreneurs and innovators commercialize their products.
“The timing really couldn’t be better, because we are going to be able to use this grant to build on the projects we started in 2011,” Barth said.
She said this grant will help officials at TechConnect take their programs to the next level.
The $500,000 grant provided by the U.S. EDA will be matched by $210,000 of local funding. Barth said TechConnect raised $210,000 with the help of those around the state of West Virginia.
“With EDA’s support, ScaleUp West Virginia will also foster advanced manufacturing and support small manufacturers in the state by working with proven service providers to catalyze the creation and retention of jobs and improve economic opportunities,” Barth said in a press release.
The grant money will benefit entrepreneurs and innovators in Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Roane, Taylor, Tyler, Tucker, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt and Wyoming counties.
Barth said when TechConnect officials received the first grant in 2011 they were only able to help 28 counties. With this grant she said officials will be able to help people in 40 different counties.
Barth said the ScaleUp program will help accelerate business growth around the state and help entrepreneurs market their product.
She said within the next month people will be able to begin to apply to be a part of the ScaleUp program. Barth said people are chosen by the criteria on the application, how viable the idea is and how tech-ready the product is.
She said the goal of ScaleUp is to assist the next generation of entrepreneurs achieve success.
“It’s gratifying, and we have no shortage of ideas, because innovation can happen anywhere,” Barth said.
For more information visit techconnectwv.org.