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Jackson, Roane EDAs reach out to small businesses

The Jackson County Development Authority and the Roane County Economic Development Authority are going to businesses in the counties to interact and offer services and programs available to them. This photo was taken inside Mustang Survival which, in partnership with the West Virginia National Guard, will help manufacture reusable medical gowns. (Photo Provided)

RIPLEY — The Jackson County Development Authority and the Roane County Economic Development Authority are working to connect with small businesses to lend a hand or offer advice and services as businesses are starting to open again.

Mark Whitley, executive director for the Jackson and Roane County EDAs, said things had slowed down with clients reaching out or visiting so they decided to look for ways to interact with the small businesses in the counties.

Each week, they take a few hours to visit businesses and bring them a sweet treat from local bakeries, Whitley said.

During those visits, they listen to problems they’re facing and to discuss the programs available to them.

“Everybody is so unsure of everything. They’re able to put a face to a name and I think that if anything happens that they have any concerns about, they know who to reach out to for assistance,” Whitley said. “We’re amazed at some of the questions that were asked (about) how we might be able to help them and interact with them. We’ve enjoyed it as well.”

A contest was created as another way to engage with the businesses who entered to win a facade grant up to $1,000 to do exterior renovations on their storefront.

The Jackson County EDA board of directors decided to award all 15 businesses who entered the contest the grant.

With the grant money, all materials need to be purchased in Jackson County and the money needs to be used within three months.

“Not only does it beautify a small community, the company who provides the materials benefits as well. It’s a win-win,” Whitley said. “Originally we were just going to draw a name but we took money out of a separate reserve replacement fund. This is a time that they really need it and we need them to be successful.”

Whitley said they’ve been excited about the grants and the responses they’ve received.

“They’re very thankful for that. It gives everybody a feel good opportunity,” he said.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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