IN West Virginia, and indeed much of the "flyover' part of the country, the lack of access to risk and investment capital poses a major hurdle for inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
TechConnect West Virginia sees this every day.
Much of the sources of risk capital, such as from venture capitalists, are concentrated in a few cities such as Boston, Washington, Austin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Most of the rest of the nation has to fend for itself when it comes to sources of adequate risk capital.
And, without these funding resources, it can be difficult - or even impossible - to turn an idea into a working product, to start a new enterprise, or to expand an existing business.
Recognizing this obstacle, the West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust led an initiative beginning in 2011 to create the West Virginia Capital Access Program (WVCAP).
WVCAP is designed to equip startups and small businesses with the capital they need to invest, expand and create jobs. The state-run program has access to $13.1 million through the State Small Business Credit Initiative, created under the federal Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.
These funds are providing a tremendous boost to the state's ability to provide some financial support to promising business ideas or to help expand companies with good growth potential. More importantly, these funds are helping to create and retain innovation jobs across our state.
In just 22 months, the WVCAP program has enabled the retention of 481 West Virginia jobs and the creation of another 361 potential new jobs within the next 24 months.
It has attracted $57 million in matching private investment. Fifty funding requests have been approved throughout the state across a wide spectrum of industries. And in terms of deploying the funding, West Virginia is second in the nation. That is quite an achievement!