Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Charleston, WV

Charleston, WV

As Charleston’s economy grows and develops, entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly viable option for people in coal country.

Charleston, WV is the state’s capital and its largest city. Though Charleston – like most of West Virginia – is often thought of as having a solely coal-based economy, there are other economic industries in the city. As the city and region’s economy grows and develops, entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly viable option for people in the area.

Though that part of the economy is still developing, there are some promising statistics for entrepreneurs and small business owners: Charleston ranked 168th on WalletHub’s 2018 rankings of the best large cities to start a small business, but it finished 38th in the “Business Costs” category and a somewhat promising 104th in the “Access to Resources” category. Additionally, the same website had Charleston third overall on their 2018 list of the best cities for Hispanic entrepreneurs.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that makeup Charleston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Charleston Area Real Estate Investors Association is a group dedicated to supporting real estate investors and entrepreneurs in the Charleston area.

About an hour down the road in Huntington, the Huntington Women Entrepreneurs Meetup is an organization dedicated to supporting women in entrepreneurship.

Though not specifically aimed at entrepreneurs or small business, the Toastmasters Club of Charleston WV helps develop public speaking skills.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Charleston Area Alliance, an organization dedicated to promoting economic growth in the Charleston area, runs a number of events and programs supporting entrepreneurship.

Organized by the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, the Minority Business Expo is an annual conference celebrating and supporting minority-owned businesses in the city and state.

Formerly known as Hack3rCon, the SecureWV Conference is a conference celebrating cybersecurity and ethical hacking.

Located in South Charleston, TechConnectWV is a technology organization that organizes regular events, including the annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day at the State Capitol.

The West Virginia Chamber organizes a number of events about statewide entrepreneurship and business, such as the Annual Meeting and Business Summit.

 

Startup Competitions:

Organized by the WV Hive Network and TechConnect WV, the Pitch Southern WV series is a number of pitch competitions held in cities throughout Southern West Virginia.

Among the programs organized by the Charleston Area Alliance is Thrive, a Shark Tank-style pitch competition for local entrepreneurs.

The West Virginia High School Business Plan Competition is open to all high school juniors and seniors around the state.

Much like the high school competition, the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition is open to all college students in West Virginia.

 

Co-working Spaces:

Located just down the road from Charleston in Hurricane, WV, Area 34 is a co-working space that offers members 24/7 access and includes a coffee shop inside.

Capitol Center Offices is a co-working space that makes a variety of services available to its clients based on need and cost point.

Not quite a full-fledged co-working space, Great Expectations Think Space has a variety of off-site meeting spaces and common areas with different themes.

West Virginia State University’s Economic Development Center offers a variety of co-working and office space options, among other business development services.

 

Makerspaces:

Create WV, an organization dedicated to supporting the maker movement in West Virginia, runs and helps create tool libraries, where people can rent tools and equipment for personal use.

BridgeValley Community and Technical College’s GRID, which is an acronym for “Generate, Restore, Innovate, Design” has a small maker space for artists and craftsmen.

Among the services offered by WV Hive is a maker space with several locations around Southern West Virginia.

 

Incubators:

The West Virginia Regional Technology Park provides working space, lab access and other support opportunities to Charleston-based technology companies.

The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition organizes the WV Incubator Farm Network, which helps train people to farm and start food businesses.

West Virginia State University’s Economic Development Center organizes business development services for startups in technology, creative and interactive media.

 

Accelerators:

The Charleston Area Alliance runs a number of programs supporting entrepreneurs and business owners, including a six-month boot camp and other assistance programs.

Located down the road in Huntington, the TEN50 Accelerator program at the Robert C. Byrd Institute works with early-stage technology startups.

WV Hive is a collection of incubation and acceleration services for a number of counties in Southern West Virginia around Charleston.

 

Colleges/Universities:

BridgeValley’s Business, Legal, Creative Entrepreneurship, and Technical Studies program has a variety of classes and degrees related to business and entrepreneurship.

The University of Charleston’s Innovation Center provides ways for its students to study entrepreneurship during their time at the university.

Though the closest thing to an entrepreneurship major offered by WVSU is business administration, the school does have an Economic Development Center.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

Based in Ashland, KY, the Tri-State Angel Investment Group provides capital to startups in the West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio tri-state area, which includes areas just outside of Charleston.

West Virginia Growth Investment LLC is a venture capital firm that aims to invest in small business around the state of West Virginia.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Charleston Gazette-Mail offers newsletters with the newspaper’s biggest headlines and news, including updates on the area’s business scene.

The West Virginia Chamber makes a number of newsletters and publications covering business news from around the state of West Virginia.

 

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Charleston, West Virginia not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Charleston, WVWashington, D.C., Richmond, VA


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.