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Chance for entrepreneurs to meet investors ahead

HUNTINGTON — As part of National Entrepreneurship Week, the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University is joining with the Appalachian Investors Alliance (AIA) to present “Meet the Investors,” a free webinar at 2 p.m. Feb. 16 to help entrepreneurs and small business owners better understand how to attract investment in their ideas or businesses.

AIA is a nonprofit educational foundation working to revitalize the region’s economy by facilitating community-based, self-reinforcing economic and workforce development through entrepreneur readiness.

Representatives from AIA will explain where to find potential investors and offer advice on how to develop a bulletproof plan that attracts the attention of investors. They also will share information about what investors want from you and what control they have over your idea and the direction of your business. Finally, they will explain why investors are not out to steal your idea and ways you can protect yourself from intellectual property theft. Participants also will get the chance to ask questions.

Register for the interactive webinar at For more information, contact Tyler Brandstetter, RCBI director of entrepreneur services, at or call 304-781-1681.

Initiative aims to drive new business for companies

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce last week announced a new partnership — the Discover Kentucky Initiative — to introduce Chamber members to European companies interested in the U.S. market, lay groundwork for partnerships and build long-term relationships aimed at creating new investments, jobs and economic strength.

While the pandemic disrupted operations for many businesses and blocked several traditional channels of economic development the past 11 months, it also opened new opportunities. The Discover Kentucky Initiative is designed to capitalize on those.

For Chamber members, opportunities include potential distributor agreements, corporate partnerships and increased trade. The state’s economy will benefit as the initiative creates and nurtures relationships, aiming to translate them over the long-term into investments, new facilities and jobs for Kentuckians.

“Through this partnership with the Chamber, we are taking advantage of how the pandemic is changing business. Companies that may not have considered selling, developing their products or manufacturing in the U.S. are seeing new value in global diversification,” Beshear said. “We know this works, too. Economic development often hinges on relationships, and it’s why in any given year, about three-quarters of all the projects we announced are expansions of companies already in the commonwealth.”

Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts said the initiative will strengthen individual businesses and the state’s economy.

“As Kentucky, the nation, and the world seek to rebuild, we are excited to launch this partnership to further economic opportunities in new and exciting ways. The Kentucky Chamber will work directly to connect companies abroad with Kentucky businesses to cultivate relationships to advance the commonwealth,” Watts said.

Discover Kentucky’s goals are to facilitate introductions between the Chamber and European businesses with significant interest in the U.S. market, foster relationships to maintain Kentucky top of mind for future expansion projects, and provide continuity for the initiative and the relationships it creates for years to come.

The initiative’s process begins with Team Kentucky’s European representative office in Hamburg, Germany. That office regularly fields inquiries from European companies interested in establishing distributor partnerships or other agreements to enter the U.S. market. However, many of those companies aren’t yet ready to commit to building a factory, establishing an office or setting up a sales operation.

After a vetting by the European office, the Chamber will introduce Kentucky businesses to those European companies based on mutual needs and interests. A quarterly check-in will further facilitate the connection and maintain Kentucky leading location for when each European company is ready to plan an expansion.

Kentucky continues to attract new investment and jobs from European companies. Last year despite the pandemic, the commonwealth saw 16 projects announced by European companies, representing nearly $130 million in planned investment and 188 new full-time jobs committed across the coming years.

European companies today operate more than 220 facilities in Kentucky, employing more than 37,000 people full-time.

SBA announces launch of executive training program

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. –The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) West Virginia District Office is announcing the launch of its 2021 free emerging leaders executive training program for area small businesses.

“Small business owners have faced many challenges this past year, the 2021 Emerging Leader program classes will be online and are specifically designed to help business owners grow and recover from the pandemic,” said SBA West Virginia District Director Karen Friel in a press release.

Emerging Leaders Program equips key decision makers with the knowledge, tools and networking connections to advance their business to the next level.

Friel said in the release that space is limited. Small businesses interested in the program must meet the qualifying criteria that includes annual sales of $250,000 to $10 million; been in business three years or more; have at least one employee in addition to the owner; and the business owner, president, CEO, COO, CFO or key decision-maker must commit to one mid-morning meeting every other week from April to October online for approximately 100 hours of combined classroom time, homework, specialized workshops, and meetings with peers and local business leaders.

Interested participants should complete the online application at and select Fairmont, WV under the Program Location pull-down menu. Additional information is available at

Businesses interested in SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program are invited to learn more by contacting Melissa, program manager, at or at 304-623-7448.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at and via Twitter @FredPaceHD or email him at

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