Jack Walker, Maria Young Published

New Food Entrepreneurship Hub Slated For Charleston

An assortment of fresh vegetables are laid out before being prepared for a meal.
The small business incubator, operated by the West Virginia National Guard, will offer resources for military-affiliated residents interested in pursuing food entrepreneurship and innovation.
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A business center slated for Charleston aims to provide new resources to entrepreneurs in the culinary sector, including office areas, recipe design spaces and a test kitchen.

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Thursday it will grant the West Virginia National Guard $595,000 to establish a small business hub in the state capital “with a specific emphasis on food production and innovation.”

The new center will find good company in Charleston, a city already home to multiple other small business incubators — like the University of Charleston Downtown Innovation Hub and the West Virginia Small Business Development Center.

Adjutant General for the State of West Virginia William Crane said in a press release that the new funding will allow the National Guard to expand current entrepreneurial resources within the state’s veteran community and beyond.

The West Virginia Military Authority currently operates a program called Patriot Guardens, which provides “agricultural education and hands-on learning opportunities to veterans, active duty members of the military and their​ families,” according to the program’s website.

Crane said Thursday that the Patriot Guardens program serves as a stepping stone for veteran and military-affiliated West Virginians looking to enter agricultural entrepreneurship. He expects the new small business hub to expand upon those resources.

The small business center will offer “greater educational, financial and business opportunities,” and will support the Patriot Guardens program “as it continues to mature,” he said.

Sen. Joe Manchin, I-W.Va., said in the press release that he is eager to see the entrepreneurial work that can be accomplished through the new Kanawha County facility.

“I’m pleased the SBA is investing… [in] the West Virginia National Guard’s creation of an innovative small business center in Charleston,” he said. “This funding will support our veterans’ entrepreneurial endeavors, especially in food production.”