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RCBI recently announced $42,000 in early-stage assistance to six West Virginia businesses and entrepreneurs.

HUNTINGTON — The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University is continuing to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses as they innovate and expand markets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RCBI recently announced $42,000 in early-stage assistance to six additional West Virginia businesses and entrepreneurs. The latest awards support the development of a cross section of new products with commercial potential, according to RCBI Director and CEO Charlotte Weber.

Including this latest round of seed funding, RCBI has awarded more than $765,000 to 189 entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses since 2012, she said.

“Early-stage assistance helps small businesses and startups design and produce prototypes of new products, expand production and reach new markets,” Weber said.

Weber added that early-stage funding initiatives at RCBI have generated more than $114 million in sales for state manufacturers and created at least 403 jobs, according to economic impact analyses by Marshall University.

The new award recipients are:

  • Joey Crookshanks of Cabell County: $5,000 for design engineering and multiple prototypes of an environmental soil-testing device.
  • Wiltshire Creative of Cabell County: $10,000 to design and prototype a specialized outdoor pizza oven/grill.
  • HellBender Lures of Cabell County: $8,000 to produce molds for lures that focus on big-game fishing.
  • Iyad Hijazi of Cabell County: $4,000 for design engineering and prototypes of molds for a falafel burger patty press.
  • Avie LLC of Kanawha County: $10,000 to produce prototypes of a soffit cutting device and conduct a lean analysis of the effectiveness of the technique.
  • Matthew Price of Raleigh County: $5,000 to develop a mechanical apparatus to improve the efficiency of powerline installation.

To learn more about RCBI’s early-stage funding initiatives, visit

RCBI is also teaming up with its partners at Ohio University’s Lights Regional Innovation Network to present an Intro to Entrepreneurship online as part of LIGHTS’ Ignite Business Series.

The workshop takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17. Participants will learn the basics of legal structures, taxes and how to get their ideas going. The LIGHTS team will answer any specific questions and is ready to support registrants every step of the way as they get started.

Register at For more information, contact Tyler Brandstetter at or 304-781-1681.

Fred Pace is the business reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Send your business news and photos to You can also call 304-526-2729. Follow him at and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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