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Posts filed under 'In the News'

Charleston Area Alliance welcomes Bridgeport Equipment & Tool

ALLIANCE_color~verticalIn January 2013, the Charleston Area Alliance began a journey with Bridgeport Equipment and Tool, as the company sought to grow their business in the Kanawha Valley.

Bridgeport Equipment & Tool began in 1995 and have seven successful locations. The Alliance began its work with the company by visiting their Marietta, Ohio location.

Once the Alliance staff had a grasp on the size of facility desired, along with other business needs, we identified and showed the company several sites throughout Kanawha County.

As with any site selection, the company narrowed their search to a few key locations and ultimately, as was reported in the Charleston Gazette earlier this week, they selected the former IGA grocery store site off the Davis Creek exit of Corridor G.

The site provides perfect visibility for the business. The company offers products like John Deere tractors, Stihl chain saws, footwear, clothing, mine gear and John Deere toys and collectibles. The company also offers a full line of equipment rentals.

Bridgeport Equipment & Tool operates stores in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

“What struck me about the facility upon my first visit to their Marietta store was the variety of products offered,” said Matt Ballard, president and CEO of the Charleston Area Alliance.

“The equipment is there, but added to that, it’s a shop with boots, gear, trimmers, tillers, gun cabinets, chain saws, brush cutters, augers… you name it they have it. They even have equipment related toys for kids. You want a die cast tractor, they’ve got it.”

As the company narrowed their search, the Alliance was pleased to work with South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens, local real estate brokers, construction businesses and many others.

The Alliance is the economic development organization for the Kanawha Valley. We work to bring new businesses to the area, like Bridgeport Equipment and Tool, and to help businesses already in the Valley to sustain and expand.  The Alliance helps grow jobs, incent new capital investment, and diversify the tax base of our region.

The Alliance will continue to work with this company and many others to help them thrive and grow.

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WVU president Gordon Gee to headline 2015 Annual Celebration

1386721690_sm2015 Charleston Area Alliance Annual Celebration
Tuesday, Feb. 17
West Virginia Culture Center

Register now for the “Business Event of the Year.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 17, the 2015 Charleston Area Alliance Annual Celebration will feature an inspiring and fast-paced program followed by a spectacular reception with live music – all in a beautiful setting showcasing the Mountain State’s future.

The event’s keynote speaker will be E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University.

At the Annual Celebration, Gee will discuss local and global education challenges and opportunities, as well as current and future goals for WVU.

For a full bio of Gee, click HERE.

The West Virginia Culture Center will be the setting for this yearly celebration of the Alliance’s accomplishments.

Presented by title sponsor Jackson Kelly PLLC, the Annual Celebration will feature a formal program followed by a lively reception in the Culture Center’s stunning lobby.
The full schedule includes:   VIP Sponsor Reception (invitation only):   5:00-5:45 p.m.

Annual Celebration Program:  5:45-6:45 p.m.

Gala Reception:  6:45-7:45 p.m.

Check-in for VIPs begins at 4:30 p.m.

Regular check-in begins at 5 p.m.

Registration is $100 Alliance members/$150 future members. Prices increase to $200 Alliance members/$250 future members after Feb. 10 at 5 p.m.
Click here to register.

During the reception, patrons will be entertained by the musical stylings of The Pennington Project Band.

“The Annual Celebration, the Alliance’s largest event fundraiser of the year, is a must attend event,” said Alliance President/CEO Matt Ballard. “Attending allows you to join the more than 500 business and community leaders who will attend.

“In addition to President Gee’s keynote, the Alliance will provide a short presentation on the progress and future of our work and our 20 year economic plan, Vision 2030. If you want to know what is going on in your community and you want to network with the top business leaders in the region, you won’t miss this event,” said Ballard.

Sponsorships, which include an extensive package of recognition opportunities, also are available. For sponsorship information, contact Jeri Adkins, JAdkins@charlestonareaalliance.org.

We are unable to invoice for groups with fewer than 10 or issue refunds for cancellations received less than 48 hours prior to the event. Thank you. If you are unable to view this e-mail, please view it at www.AllianceBlog.org.

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admin in Announcements,Events,In the News on January 07 2015 » 0 comments

Help the Alliance shape the future

ALLIANCEWith more than 600 members representing 40,000 employees, the Charleston Area Alliance is a multi-faceted economic and community development organization, as well the largest regional Chamber of Commerce in West Virginia.

As part of our mission of inspiring an economy that provides sustainable jobs in the Kanawha Valley, the Alliance created Vision 2030. This 20-year plan for creating jobs and strengthening the economy of the Kanawha Valley is a long-term blueprint for the future.

We are gathering stories from community members who have been involved and impacted by Alliance events, programs, and outcomes.

Help us shape the future by completing this brief survey HERE.

We want to show the real connections and opportunities that have resulted from taking initiative in the community and the cumulative impact they can have on our economy and society.

These answers will be displayed on the new Vision 2030 website.

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admin in Announcements,In the News,Vision 2030 on December 18 2014 » 0 comments

Come and GROW with the Charleston Area Alliance

The Charleston Area Alliance is now accepting applications for its upcoming class of GROW.

GROW is the Alliance’s six-month entrepreneurial “boot camp” that connects local small business owners to the people and resources they need to grow their businesses. The program is designed to foster entrepreneurship in the Kanawha Valley.

GROW3wtagParticipants commit up to four-hours per month for in-person activities, offering entrepreneurial education, support and network building through:
  • Monthly educational lectures led by University of Charleston and West Virginia State University professors and successful regional entrepreneurs
  • One-on-one business coaching sessions with a GROW business coach
  • Entrepreneur peer group meetings with GROW classmates
This will be the fourth installment of GROW, with more than 25 entrepreneurs already completing the program.
Additional value-add benefits of GROW include:
  • A one-year Alliance membership ($365 value), which Includes access to Alliance networking events (Business After Hours, First Friday)
  • Access to room “415 at the Alliance,” a collaborative office-space in the Alliance’s incubator, which can be used for work, meetings, and everything in between.
  • Get pro-bono advising from Charleston professionals on a variety of topics including: marketing, legal, creative, insurance, banking, and more.

Entrepreneurs must meet eligibility requirements, submit a completed application and commit to six months of engaged participation.

To learn more about GROW, click HERE.

Deadline for applications is January 7, 2015.

Click HERE for the application.

GROW members will also receive access to free consulting from business professionals in an array of fields including legal, accounting, banking, graphic design, and human resources, in addition to being connected to a professional mentor.

Tuition for the program is $250, with $100 being reimbursed at the conclusion of the program. The program fee also includes a complimentary one-year membership to the Alliance ($365 value).

For questions regarding GROW, contact Cody Schuler at CSchuler@CharlestonAreaAlliance.org or at 304-340-4253.

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admin in Announcements,GROW,In the News on December 09 2014 » 0 comments

Storytelling the key to success for The Grant Advantage

IMG_7956If Alice Ruhnke had to pick one word to describe the essence of her small business, the choice would be simple: storytelling.

Not to be confused with the fictional form of writing, The Grant Advantage assists nonprofit organizations working to make real change in their communities by identifying an organization’s strengths, clarifying its goals and effectively telling its story in the form of grant writing.

Since 2006, The Grant Advantage has raised over $5 million from federal, state, corporate and foundation sources to help nonprofit organizations working in West Virginia and surrounding states have a greater impact on the communities they serve.

In addition to grant writing, The Grant Advantage assists clients by locating funding sources, developing programs, completing qualitative evaluations and much more.

During the business’ initial years of operation, Ruhnke ran the business from her home in Charleston.

“Really ever since I started, there’s been work out there to do, but it wasn’t until I worked with Terry Cyfers at the Small Business Development Center that I considered expanding,” she said.

After learning about the Charleston Area Alliance’s small business incubator program, which provides small start-ups affordable office space, Ruhnke began the expansion process.

With the help of Mike Aeiker, vice president of real estate service for the Charleston Area Alliance, The Grant Advantage moved to an office on the fourth floor of the Alliance building located on Smith Street in September 2013.

“I think this has really increased my profile,” Ruhnke said. “I’ve actually gotten one client simply because they walked by. I feel like I’m a little more productive. It separates my work from my home and helps it to look and feel like a real business.”

Ruhnke was also able to hire a second employee, Elizabeth Hardy, to assist with grant writing and project development. With the added help, Ruhnke has been able to expand The Grant Advantage’s services.

After completing lengthy trainings, Ruhnke recently added the service of appreciative inquiry facilitation, which helps organizations manage the process of change. Ruhnke explained that the method seeks out the best of “what is” in an organization to help ignite the collective imagination of “what might be,” rather than focusing on the negative side of an organization’s situation.

In addition to helping organizations manage and achieve positive change and develop new programs, Ruhnke said she’s happy that The Grant Advantage can help organizations of all sizes secure funding sources.

“The little guys are really important to me. Being able to work and keep my prices at a place where a little, new nonprofit can afford my services is very important,” she said.

With over 15 years of experience in the field, Ruhnke said she doesn’t plan on leaving the field of grant writing, or storytelling, any time soon.

“I always wanted to be a grant writer. I started this because I love the work,” Ruhnke said. “What I have is a dream.”

Since 1986, the Charleston Area Alliance has supported local entrepreneurs and small start-ups in the Kanawha Valley region by providing affordable office and warehouse work locations, along with the guidance, consulting and office amenities needed to ensure success.

Click HERE to learn more about the program.

To learn more about The Grant Advantage and the services it provides, visit www.thegrantadvantage.net or call 304-400-4894.

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admin in Announcements,In the News on November 20 2014 » 0 comments

Showcasing the beauty of West Virginia and its people

PrintWhen Nikki Bowman founded “WV Living” magazine in 2008, her mission was to celebrate life in the mountain state.

Six years later with four publications in regular circulation, New South Media is continuing to pursue its original goals as it grows in size and reach.

Under Bowman’s leadership, the company recently expanded to a second office in Charleston and hired three employees to support the site. With the help of the Charleston Area Alliance’s small business incubator program, New South Media was able to locate its second office in the Alliance’s convenient and affordable office building located just minutes away from the State Capitol.

Christa Hamra, New South Media advertising specialist, said the February 2014 expansion occurred in conjunction with the company’s launch of “WV Focus,” a publication dedicated to covering news in business and government across the state.

The small start-up, now with 14 employees, is headquartered in Morgantown and regularly publishes “WV Living,” “WV Weddings,” “WV Focus” and “Morgantown Magazine.”

“We’ve got a lot of things going on all of the time,” Hamra said.

In addition to its regular publications, New South Media works with various groups across the state to produce specialty, travel and/or trade magazines.

Shay Maunz, a New South Media staff writer based in Charleston, said she was originally hired to cover government and business news for “Focus,” but thanks to the company’s diverse publications, she’s been able to cover a wide variety of stories for all publications.

“I really, really like my job,” Maunz said. “It’s exactly the kind of work that I want to be doing now in my career. I really do think that what we work on matters.”

From showcasing beautiful weddings held in West Virginia’s picturesque mountain landscape, highlighting a neat coffee shop making waves in Tucker County and covering the January water crisis, New South Media’s publications cover a range of stories across the Mountain State.

Amanda Eskew, New South Media advertising specialist, is the third member of the Charleston team. Always a fan of the magazines, Eskew said a copy of “WV Living” could always be found lying around her house and when the new position was listed in Charleston, she jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s a blessing. It’s kind of like a dream come true to be a part of it,” Eskew said.

Hamra, Maunz and Eskew are all West Virginia natives and agree that it’s a great place to work and live.

“The beauty that we have here and the people that we have here, you can’t beat,” Hamra said.

The team agreed that part of New South Media’s aim is to find unique, creative ways to showcase West Virginia’s beauty and its people.

“The goal of all of our magazines is to build a better state from the inside out. So we have to change perceptions of West Virginians and change perceptions of those outside the state, as well,” Hamra said. “We have a lot of subscribers who are from West Virginia, but have moved outside of the state and ‘WV Living’ is how they keep in touch with what’s happening here.”

The Charleston team said its new location will put them much closer to following political events during the legislative session as well as events happening across southern West Virginia. Also, locating in the incubator kept their costs for their expansion manageable.

“I’m thrilled that I have an office space to go to that is so convenient,” Hamra said. “The Alliance takes great care of the building. Anything you need, you just ask and it’s taken care of. It’s quiet, but there’s always people around. Everybody knows where you are. All you have to do is say that I’m in the Alliance building. The visibility of being in this building is a perk.”

Hamra said the Alliance’s incubator program really allows small businesses to put their best foot forward by supplying the materials and professional space they need.

Since 1986, the Charleston Area Alliance has supported local entrepreneurs and small start-ups in the Kanawha Valley region by providing affordable office and warehouse work locations, along with the guidance, consulting and office amenities needed to ensure success.

Click HERE to learn more about the program.

Check out New South Media’s coverage across the Mountain State by visiting www.wvliving.com.

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admin in Announcements,In the News on November 19 2014 » 0 comments

A passion for her profession

PrintSpend five minutes talking to Jill Watkins about her profession and you’ll quickly see why she chose commercial interior design.

Whether discussing the utilization of space, lighting, or green building techniques, Watkins’ passion for her profession is clear and her excitement to be working as an entrepreneur in West Virginia even more apparent.

After more than 20 years working for interior design and architectural firms, Watkins founded her own design and consulting firm, Watkins Design Works, LLC, in Charleston in January.

Thanks to the Charleston Area Alliance’s small business incubator program, the commercial interior design and green building consulting firm was able to locate in a work space on the fourth floor of the Alliance’s convenient and affordable office building located on Smith Street.

“I really wanted to have an office space that was separate from my home. I wanted have a space to meet clients and sort of differentiate myself from residential designers,” Watkins, who is the sole owner, said. “I thought it was important to be in an office because that’s the kind of spaces I’m designing.”

Unlike the common perception that interior designers simply select the furniture and color scheme of a space, Watkins explained that her role in a commercial project, whether new construction or renovation, is much greater.

“Commercial interior designers see things three dimensionally. We know how people will feel when they walk through a space. We know that a functional layout and a healthy indoor environment are going to make an organization’s staff more productive and happier,” Watkins explained.

Watkins Design Works offers all facets of interior design services including conceptual design, design development, material selections, lighting design and much more.

“It’s a professional service, just like anything else, that is designed to help make that company more profitable and meet their business needs and marketing goals,” Watkins said. “My goal is to design functional and beautiful interiors that support a business’ needs, brand and vision.”

After earning a bachelor of science in interior design from the University of Tennessee, Watkins became a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional with a certification in building design and construction.

With every project she undertakes, Watkins uses her education and LEED training to incorporate green building methods to meet a client’s desired sustainability outcomes.

Whether concerned with indoor air quality or energy cost savings, Watkins said she can help clients meet their goals and LEED certification by serving in a facilitator role to bring architects, engineers and designers together to ensure that sustainability goals are successfully incorporated into a project from the start.

“To me it’s all about the big picture,” Watkins said. “What I think I bring to the table is a broad overview of sustainability, while knowing a lot of the nitty gritty details about green building,” Watkins said.

“We spend 90 percent of our time indoors. Not only should our spaces be designed well, but they should make us healthier, they should make us feel good and we should want to be there.”

Since 1986, the Charleston Area Alliance has supported local entrepreneurs and small start-ups in the Kanawha Valley region by providing affordable office and warehouse work locations, along with the guidance, consulting and office amenities needed to ensure success.

Click HERE to learn more about the business incubator.

To learn more about Watkins Design Works visit www.watkinsdesignworks.com or contact Jill Watkins at 304-553-7002.

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admin in Announcements,In the News on November 18 2014 » 0 comments

Alliance celebrates Entrepreneurship Week

PrintWhen you hear the word “entrepreneur,” what image comes to mind?

Is it the mad scientist working night after night in his garage, or the woman who applies her cooking skills to, finally, open the bakery that she’s always wanted?

Entrepreneurship comes in many shapes and sizes. Some entrepreneurs might become the next Steve Jobs, while others could never make it out of their garage.

But no matter the size or level of success, we, at the Charleston Area Alliance, know that every small start-up counts.

They really do.

Entrepreneurial pursuits are vital to job and economic growth throughout the United States. The Charleston Area Alliance is excited to join organizations across the globe in celebrating the movers and shakers, the innovators, and the free thinkers who have applied their passions to pursue entrepreneurial dreams with Global Entrepreneurship Week held this week, November 17-23.

Throughout the Alliance’s Entrepreneurship Week, we’ll bring stories of local entrepreneurs that are turning their dreams into a reality by launching small start-ups in the Kanawha Valley to better serve the needs of people, businesses and nonprofits living and working throughout West Virginia.

Tuesday, Nov. 18 – Learn how Watkins Design Works is making sustainable commercial design a viable option in West Virginia.

Wednesday, Nov. 19 – We’ll share how New South Media’s reach is growing with the launch of its fourth magazine “WV Focus.”

Thursday, Nov. 20 – Discover how one woman is applying her writing skills to assist nonprofits in the form of grant writing with The Grant Advantage.

Friday, Nov. 21 – We’ll share how the Charleston Area Alliance is working with local entrepreneurs (including the three featured) through a variety of programs to provide support and guidance in order to mitigate the risks often associated with starting a new business.

In the spirit of Entrepreneurship Week, we ask you all to reflect on the entrepreneur living inside all of us.

Have you always wanted to own your own business?

Do you have an idea that you can’t seem to shake?

Ever create new gadgets as a kid?

For one week, let’s embrace the creativity and innovative ability inside all of us.

If you ever want to turn those dreams into a reality, you know where to go for support: the Charleston Area Alliance. Our economic development partners have the knowledge, experience and tools to make your dreams come true.

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admin in Announcements,In the News on November 17 2014 » 0 comments

Member Market: Learn more about the Kanawha County library levy

Member Market:
By Alliance Members for Alliance Members

This “Member Market” is a paid announcement sent by the Alliance on behalf of a member to business and community leaders and young professionals.

KCPL member market Nov. 3

 

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Charleston’s public arts project receives national attention

Public Art Guide CroppedThe National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has chosen Charleston’s public arts project from among hundreds across the country to highlight as a successful arts-based community project.

Charleston’s public arts project, which included the combined efforts of the Charleston Area Alliance, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, Arts Council of Kanawha Valley, Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, FestivALL Charleston and the City of Charleston, is featured as a successful case study on the NEA’s new online resource, “Exploring Our Town.”

The online resource is designed to assist community organizers working across the globe to develop arts-based community projects. Sixty recipients of the NEA’s primary creative placemaking grants program, known as Our Town, are featured as model case studies. Visitors to the website will learn helpful planning steps and gain creative ideas from the chosen case studies.

Charleston’s program, which received the Our Town grant in 2012, is among featured projects that range from a whirligig park in Wilson, North Carolina to an art garden in Jackson, Mississippi.

“The Our Town program is a prime example of the power the arts have on our everyday lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The arts can connect us, they can weave communities together, and they can infuse our lives with a deeper sense of place and purpose.”

The Our Town grant supported a citywide initiative to gain an accurate inventory of the public art in Charleston. The project collected details of the artwork’s artist, owner, location, materials used, maintenance required, dates of inspection and more.

Based on the information gathered, guidelines were established to ensure that the present artwork is properly maintained by the owners. It also established guidelines for the creation of future work.

One result of the project was the production of a printed guidebook and online resource, found at publicartcharleston.org, to provide residents and visitors to the area a guide to public art found across the city. The website also provides residents the public art plan for Charleston, which serves to guide and inform decisions about public art in the future.

“One of the biggest effects of the project was the increased number of people who have a better understanding and appreciation for our public art,” said Susie Salisbury, vice president of Community Development for the Charleston Area Alliance.

“Encouraging, promoting, and maintaining public art falls within our Vision 2030 development plan’s focus on downtown revitalization,” said Matt Ballard, president and CEO of the Alliance. “Public art enhances our downtowns and our communities.”

There are currently 45 public art pieces across Charleston featured in the guidebook. Check out Charleston’s art at publicartcharleston.org and read more about Charleston’s public art project at the NEA’s “Exploring Our Town” site by visiting arts.gov/exploring-our-town. 

To see more projects led by the Alliance, please check out the “Success Stories” section of the Alliance web site HERE.

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