CARES Act funding will soon end for three programs helping West Virginia’s small businesses.
Speaking to the legislative Joint Commision on Economic Development, Steve Johnson, director of West Virginia’s Small Business Development Center spoke of the success of three CARES Act funded programs that may end if the state doesn’t step in.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (2020) provided fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, small businesses, and industries. Funding from the act ends in September.
First, Johnson said hiring 15 subject matter experts like CPAs, attorneys and tech innovators has led to 67 rolling projects helping create and sustain small businesses. Johnson said this is helping West Virginia gain traction in the growing cybersecurity field. The experts are also helping with succession planning, since many family owned businesses are aging out in the state.
“It’s been a huge help to the businesses,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately I’ve got to start narrowing down and get them done because I’ve got to have all the money spent by September 30.”
Second, Johnson spoke of a research and development program that has developed federal and state matching funds and is keeping bright young minds in-state.
“It’s definitely an incentive for people from WVU and Marshall to do the research and stay here when they’re spinning out companies,” Johnson said. “We want to become more technology savvy and more technology friendly in this state. They’re just going across the border because there’s more money to get for free.”
Third, a first time endeavor for the SBDC is the West Virginia Business Link, a one stop resource shop connecting 130 public and private resource partners to the state’s 113,000 small businesses.
“If you’re out there in a small business world trying to figure out where you can get help, either to start or to grow, or whatever it may be, it’s a daunting task,” Johnson said.
At the end of his presentation, Johnson asked that the legislature consider continued funding for these programs.
“There’s no denying small businesses are a huge part of what we do in West Virginia and our economy,” Johnson said. “This can really be a linchpin for stability and diversity in the economy in West Virginia.”