West Virginia Executive Spring 2017 - Page 127

Virginia University Women’s Business Center will be the only such center in the state and the first to open its doors in three years. Our center provides services to entrepreneurs of any gender at all stages of business development. We are excited to play a part in transforming the state’s economy through the growth of small businesses.” Benedum Grant Awarded to the Patriot Guardens Initiative Efforts to grow West Virginia’s farm-based economy and train veterans in new agricultural opportunities recently received a boost, thanks to a major grant from the Claude Worthing- ton Benedum Foundation. The foundation provided a grant for $175,000 to the West Virginia National Guard Founda- tion Inc. The funding will be used to support and expand the Assistant Secretary of Defense Todd Weiler discusses the Patriot Guardens program during a visit to Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy at Camp Dawson. West Virginia National Guard’s Patriot Guardens initiative and provide employment/transition and entrepreneurial develop- ment opportunities. The Benedum funds will help launch a new two-year project called HARVEST, which stands for Heritage Agriculture & Rural Veterans Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Transition. The HARVEST Project will target and serve returning military members, veterans, Guard members and other veterans tran- sitioning into the workplace. This new program will provide training in basic and specialty agriculture production and in agri-business development opportunities. The HARVEST Project will concentrate on veterans and Guard members in rural farming counties in West Virginia, but special emphasis and resources will be in regions where the National Guard is transitioning armories into agriculture transition/training hubs and in areas that have post-mine land use tracts viable for agricultural use, particularly Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Nicholas and Raleigh counties. The project will identify a diversified group of marketable specialty products that new and small veteran farmers can produce to earn a sustainable living wage. It will aggregate and establish purchasing market opportunities, trans- actional activities and sustainable business models focused on linking veteran-grown products with key purchasers, includ- ing schools, colleges and prisons. The long-term goal is to be another program to add to several other efforts underway across the state and to assist with economic self-sustainment and recovery and expand training opportunities. 2017 #WVBROWNFIELDS CONFERENCE READY. SET. REDEVELOP. Featuring the Central Appalachian Regional Brownfields Summit September 12-14 at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown, WV For more information, visit www.wvbrownfields.org. WWW.WVEXECUTIVE.COM S P R I N G 2 017 125