BizBuzHub spreads information on businesses

Photo courtesy of the Doddridge County Chamber of Commerce Duane Thomas poses for a picture after meeting with the Doddridge County Chamber of Commerce in May.

PENNSBORO — A century ago, people living in rural communities throughout the state had to use word of mouth in order to receive information about politics, their community and even local gossip. Small town general stores, churches and front porches became the pulpits in which residents could voice their opinions and knowledge about issues affecting their lives. Duane Thomas, a business professor at Salem College, is trying to use the same strategy in hopes of increasing business in small towns from Parkersburg to Clarksburg that the North Bend Rail Trail runs through with his BizBuzHub program.

At a recent meeting with the Doddridge County Chamber of Commerce, Thomas told them that like coal in the southern portions of the state, the trail could be used as a commodity that would benefit all communities that it is associated with. Thomas said the chamber was very interested in what he had to say.

“I was scheduled to speak for 20 minutes at the most. I ended up being there for two hours,” he said.

Like in the past, Thomas’ program gets people together to talk about anything that they think will help the community in which they live. Over the last two years, Thomas said groups in Harrison County have determined that catering to the visitors of the trail system is the best option to help grow business in their small towns.

Thomas doesn’t call his get-togethers meetings, he said he prefers to keep the proceedings more informal.

“I like to call them gatherings,” he said. “The atmosphere we try and create is a giant living room.”

During the gatherings, Thomas said people discuss successes and failures they have encountered when dealing with the red tape and pitfalls of owning a business. He said people can organize their own meetings in other towns in order to help more people to not only start new businesses, but keep current ones flourishing.

Thomas said he realizes the process is slow, but his program already has a goal it wants to reach within a year.

“Does anything happen over night? It absolutely does not,” he said. “But we do have a 12 month goal of connecting all the communities from Parkersburg to Clarksburg.”

Jim Musgrave, who sits on the board of the Doddridge County Chamber of Commerce, said he agreed with Thomas that the trail could be a lifeline for businesses in his county.

“A local small business boom is definitely possible,” he said.

Musgrave said small towns will have more influence financially and politically as the BIZBUZHUB community grows.

“That’s the beauty of his organization,” Musgrave said. “(Small towns) can see what can be accomplished by working together. It gives us a greater voice and a greater sense of community…We want to get everyone involved on the same path with the same vision for the future.”

Even though BizBuzHub primarily uses a century old system to spread the word about his organization, he still relies on modern day technology to help.

“People can visit BizBuzHub’s Facebook page to find out more about the program,” he said.