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NACCE Summit – New River and Technical College Ghent, WV – February 20, 2014

Posted By Griffin Cottle, Thursday, February 20, 2014

Keynote Panel: David Hughes – Business Development Analyst, Appalachian Regional Commission; Darrell Akins – Founder and CEO, Akins Public Strategies

Dr. Washington – Entrepreneurs can start young (and should)… Think paperboys and kids selling things door to door.  We need to build on that.  At the same time coal is a part of our culture, and soul, and we need to keep that at the front of our minds as we work to diversify our economy and encourage entrepreneurship in Appalachia.

David – I want to thank New River CTC and NACCE for their hospitality in hosting us.  ARC currently manages 125 business incubators in the Appalachian region, and was started in 1965 to begin diversifying the region’s economy from one of dependence to empowerment.

Darrell – Organized the first Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit.  Entrepreneurship doesn’t belong to any one field or industry… the artisan, plumber and technician who want to work for themselves and start businesses are every bit as valuable as the new technology startup, and the questions involved and knowledge required to make them successful are all the same.

David – Community colleges are integral to ARC’s efforts at poverty eradication and economic development.  As potential hubs of entrepreneurship, mapping the existing ecosystem of business and economic development services in the surrounding area will be critical to improving and expanding entrepreneurship education at community colleges in the region. 


Keynote Speaker: Todd Christensen – Executive Director, Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation

Todd – The small artisan towns in Appalachia where arts and crafts, textiles, and other home materials are still made and sold have been that way for generations, since the time of the Great Migration westward when these town were the last place to buy materials before the great trek West.  These places are still there and are a foundation for entrepreneurship expansion in Appalachia. 

Despite the loss of mining and manufacturing jobs over the past 30 years, thanks to high-speed telecommunications we can make each of these towns and vendors the focal point of the modern textile economy.  Our efforts in the Creative Economy – an economy that uses its human, natural and cultural assets for the betterment of the community – include cricket row, a regional marketing and branding committee, the Heartwood Artisan Center, the Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail, and the Appalachian Spring for outdoor recreation.

The most important thing is to have collaborative relationships where everyone is involved and gets to take credit, and to benchmark and track the outcomes on jobs created and economic impact from day one.  Intensive planning is key.  "Community Rediscovery” – preserve the culture and update the economy.


Panel Discussion – Best Practices in Supporting Artisanal Small Businesses: Steve Weir – Greenbrier Valley Economic Development; Jill Holliday – Entrepreneurship Instructor, New River CTC; Tim Mittan – Los Angeles Regional SBDC Network

Tim – There are certain basics about business that apply to every kind of business, artists included.  One difference is that artists and artisans sometimes need to focus on the creative side, and have someone else do the selling.  It’s "how to run the business,” not "what’s in the business” that’s important.

Steve – The realization that there is a "give” to the art process, and the fact that they have to put food on the table is sometimes a challenge to get across. 

Tim – Some of the best curricula for artisan entrepreneurs is to teach outside of the traditional classroom, and doing the instruction online.  Be flexible.

Steve – They have to know things like how to develop a website and how to self-promote, which are also things that community colleges have a large role to play in teaching them.

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