Depending on what source you ask, West Virginia is a tough place to do business. And to be fair, the Mountain State has historically ranked pretty low on different lists regarding quality of life. But times are changing, and West Virginia is on a mission to change that. And they’re doing it from the ground up by investing in the lifeblood of their state: their businesses.
From free small-business counseling sessions to organizations helping lift up women-owned businesses to networking groups and so much more, West Virginia has a wealth of tools that can help any entrepreneur find success. Let’s discuss the best small-business resources in West Virginia, and talk about how they can help your business reach the next level.
West Virginia’s SCORE branch offers free, confidential business consulting to entrepreneurs in Charleston, Clarksburg, and Huntington. Experienced business coaches volunteer thousands of hours to help you succeed. Whether you need to attend a webinar on marketing, learn everything you can about budgeting, or just bounce your ideas off someone else, SCORE can help.
As a part of the wider national network, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center is a great starting point if you want help with your small business. They don’t offer grants or loans, but they can pair you up with an experienced business coach. Most of the coaches at the West Virginia center have entrepreneurial experience and professional certifications in a wide variety of industries. That kind of mentorship is invaluable when you’re starting out.
Founded in 1994, the Professional Business Women’s Association includes female business pros from the panhandle of West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The bulk of members come from West Virginia, though. Business meetings and networking events happen on the first Wednesday of the month. Each year, PBWA’s primary “community project” is awarding scholarships to young budding entrepreneurs.
Meetups are a great way to expand your network of business relationships through casual gatherings of like-minded professionals. We picked out three of our favorite West Virginia-based Meetup groups that can provide stimulating conversation and valuable connections with fellow West Virginia entrepreneurs.
- Ohio Valley Entrepreneurs: Technically, Ohio Valley Entrepreneurs is a meetup network for anyone in Ohio Valley, including West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. But the organizer is based in West Virginia specifically. And no matter what state you’re based in, meetups with Ohio Valley Entrepreneurs allow you mix and mingle with a wide variety of different entrepreneurs in the Valley.
- Berkeley Springs Small Business Owners: This Meetup group is smaller than some others, but you’ll still get a lot of value from their meetups. At Berkeley, there’s only one rule: at each meetup, you must talk with at least 3 people you’ve never met before. Within just a few meetings, you’ll grow your professional network considerably.
- Bridge Builders (Morgantown): Just like it takes a village to raise a child, Bridge Builders believes it takes a village to raise a business. And Bridge Builders wants to be that village for you if you’re in Morgantown. Each event costs just $10, and everyone has opportunities to network informally with no strings attached. At Bridge Builders, relationships are what matters, not your Rolodex of business cards.
Blogs and Publications
The Community Development Hub is a one-stop resource to see how West Virginia as a whole is growing and learning—businesses included. They began as a concerted effort to see why the state wasn’t growing like they hoped (unfortunately, West Virginia has historically ranked pretty low on certain quality-of-life rankings). Now, to continue the upward trend, the Hub educates thousands of West Virginians about civic engagement and policy.
Even if your business isn’t involved in politics, it’s important to keep abreast on what’s going on with your state’s policies. After all, state decisions about budgeting, regulation, and so on all trickle down to how you run your business. The West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy is your perfect resource to stay informed about local policies. They do their best to keep their efforts as non-partisan as possible, so you can focus on the facts and not some politican’s personal angle.
The JCDA’s mission is simple: “to improve the quality of life for all Jefferson County residents by developing and promoting commercial opportunities for new and expanding businesses.” So on their website, you’ll find dozens of resources for entrepreneurs, including program initiatives, business updates, and news regarding different industries.
Even though West Virginia has ranked low on certain “business rankings” in the past, the state as a whole has made concerted efforts to improve both life and business. To make that dream a reality, individuals and groups throughout the state have created plenty of amazing business resources to take advantage of. Whether you’re starting your first business or you’re a seasoned entrepreneur with years of experience, the resources in this guide can help take your business to the next level.
If you need more resources in West Virginia — like advice about coworking spaces, information about lawyers or accountants, where to find the best business schools, or how to contact your local Chamber of Commerce — take a look at the other helpful articles we’ve compiled for assistance in this state.