Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

May 30, 2012

Manufacturing partnership — Innovate WV plan a plus

We are encouraged to hear that Concord University is teaming up with Marshall University and the Robert C. Byrd Institute in a unique initiative aimed at boosting jobs with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The Innovate WV program announced last week by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., will work with five companies across the Mountain State in a program intended to create jobs as well as retain and grow existing businesses, especially those in the technology-based manufacturing sector.

According to Rahall, the partnership between Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, Marshall University and Concord University is being made possible through an EDA University Center grant awarded to Marshall University last year.

Rahall correctly notes that coal, steel and rail are still the “anchors” of the national and state economy. However, he says a focus on innovation and investments in “worker training to match the skills required in a technology-based economy can open a wide door to welcome workers in.”

Concord University is hoping its partnership in the program will assist entrepreneurs in southern West Virginia. “We’re going to be a resource that an entrepreneur can come to wanting to start a business or grow their business,” Chuck Becker, executive director of the research and development corporation at Concord University, said last week.

Students could also participate in providing the assistance. For instance, an entrepreneur looking to draft a business plan might receive help from a faculty member and students. Students may also be an initial point of contact for entrepreneurs.

Five companies will participate in the program intended to create jobs as well as retain and grow existing businesses, particularly those in the technology-based manufacturing sector. The companies are Blue Gold, Inc. of White Sulphur Springs, Stinson-Lane, LLC, in Williamsburg, VinTech Manufacturing of Gauley Bridge, Carbon Fiber Composites of Ona and Tramco in Williamson.

Concord University, Marshall University and the Robert C. Byrd Institute are all to be applauded for helping to launch this innovative job creation program. Any and all efforts to help advance the technology-based manufacturing sector of our economy should be strongly supported.

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