4-17-13 Entrepreneurship event 
April 25 in Petersburg

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PETERSBURG — The Landes Art Center in Petersburg will host an Entrepreneurship Event 2013, April 25. Open to high school students from throughout the Potomac Highlands, and to college students from Eastern WV Community and Technical College and Potomac State College, the event will feature four dynamic entrepreneurs as speakers. It begins at 10 a.m., with a pizza and networking session to follow at 11:45.

Each county within Eastern’s six-county service district — including Hampshire, Grant, Hardy, Mineral, Pendleton and Tucker — may send up to 30 students.

“There’s ample opportunity for entrepreneurship in our county, particularly in retail,” said Les Shoemaker  Jr., executive director of the Hampshire County Development Authority. Research data shows that “several millions of dollars in general merchandise sales are going outside the county.”

“There are just not enough businesses in our county,” he pointed out, “and our economy is not as diverse as it should be.”

Mona Ridder, executive director of the Mineral County Development Authority, agreed. “There’s more opportunity for entrepreneurship now than ever before.”

The Entrepreneurship Event 2013 seeks “to inform high school students of a potential career pathway through entrepreneurship,” said Charles Terrell, Eastern’s president and co-chair of the Potomac Highlands Economic Development and Education Partnership, an event co-sponsor.

“Most of the job growth in West Virginia in the next 10 years is going to come from entrepreneurship,” noted Ed Fisher, executive director of the Grant County Development Authority. “The key to success for students is to learn how to develop a business plan and how to run a business after doing the proper research.”

“This is a great opportunity for students to be exposed to entrepreneurial success stories and how those successes create opportunities to live and work in the region that you grew up in,” said Shawn Dilly, director of the South Branch Career and Technical Center and chair of the Potomac Highlands District Consortium that is also co-sponsoring the event.

“And that’s an important part of where the economy needs to go for people to stay in the Potomac Highlands region.”

Event speakers include: Wesley Davis, a college student/entrepreneur who started a successful farm-to-table free-range egg business in Mason County while in the seventh-grade; Grant County’s Ashley Brosh-Anderson, featured on Good Morning America and in WV Weddings magazine for her startup wedding planner business; Chris Wood, a former marketing director for Discovery Communications, who has launched Behavioral Business Associates, his own consulting business for corporations, non-profits and government organizations; and Luke Kesner, the business development officer at Pendleton Community Bank.

In the Potomac Highlands particularly, “There may also be entrepreneurial opportunities for working as suppliers or support mechanisms for existing, major regional industries,” noted Les Shoemaker.

“Many people have said that small business is the backbone of our economy, and I agree with that. Small business is where it’s at,” said Mineral County’s Ridder.

“If you have a talent, whatever it might be, you need to develop it, because you may be able to develop that into a business.”

The Potomac Highlands Economic Development and Education Partnership and the Potomac Highlands District Consortium are co-sponsoring the event.

Serving the residents of Hampshire, Grant, Hardy, Mineral, Pendleton and Tucker counties, and fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College is a comprehensive and equal opportunity community and technical college bringing the resources and assets of Education That Works to the families, communities and employers of the Potomac Highlands.

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