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
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.