E-Communties picnic to kickoff the start of growing businesses in Taylor County

GRAFTON— All Aboard Grafton will be hosting a Community Picnic on Thursday, June 29, at 6:00 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus Pavilion, to kick off the start of the Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities Program (E-Communities) in Grafton and Taylor County.

Taylor County, along with three other counties in West Virginia were selected to participate in the E-Communities Program

The program is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the West Virginia Community Development Hub.

It is a three-year initiative program that is designed to encourage entrepreneurs and businesses, as well as, civic and social groups to creatively visualize their potential and opportunities, to start or build, on business ventures.

The program is based on a model that was successfully used in other states by The Center for Rural Entrepreneurism, based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

All Aboard Chairman Tom Hart shared that although the program is generally intended for those communities that have been hit hard by the downturn of the coal industry, Taylor County was selected because of its strong participation in the Turn This Town Around initiative, and the continued community efforts, along with the economic development activities of All Aboard Grafton.

“ The E-Communities program is the logical next step in the community revitalization efforts stemming from Turn This Town Around and All Aboard Grafton,” commented Hart.

With the focus of the program being the fostering of entrepreneurism and developing the environment to help both aspiring and current business owners to succeed, a network of local and regional resources will be established to assist and guide entrepreneurs through the various stages of owning a business.

In addition, E-Communities also provides education and creative business planning. Striving business owners will be guided into a creative space where they can work on continuously reinventing their businesses, which will in turn increase their success rate, and also provide direction to necessary resources.

“This program is based on research and methodology that has proven successful in other small communities,” explained Hart. “I firmly believe it will be successful in Taylor County, as well.”

Hart also shared that there is a core leadership team for the program, which is comprised of himself, David Cantu, Donna Hart, Breanna Collins, Michelle Mouser and Amanda Workman.

The team recently completed two days of extensive E-Communities Program training in Fayettville, WV.

“Our leadership team is excited and energized. The best part is that this is free, except for the commitment and energy that are needed to make it work,” Hart expressed.

In addition to the leadership team, volunteers are also needed to help identify the needs of current and potential business owners, and to assist in finding local and regional resources that meet those needs.

People of all ages and backgrounds are strongly encouraged to attend the kickoff picnic, where more information about the program will be discussed.

“We are delighted that Taylor County was selected to participate, and we look forward to working with the WV Community Hub to successfully accomplish measureable and positive economic development,” imparted Hart.