Bluefield University is looking for ways to boost commercial and community development in southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. That’s why the school recently launched the Appalachian Summit Center, designed to build collaborative innovative solutions that bring economic and social value to the region.
“Two years ago, we began to dream about how we could find better ways to serve our students and community,” said Dr. Sharon Perot, associate professor and chair of the Department of Business. “As we met with church leaders, local delegates, economic development directors, other local college business faculty, government agencies, workforce training programs, and local small businesses, we found that communication among these groups is almost non-existent. We recognized that a hub was needed to serve as a catalyst to deepen collaboration among and between these constituencies. That’s why we created the Appalachian Summit Center to focus on finding ways to address this fractured communication.”
The mission of the Appalachian Summit Center (ASC), Dr. Perot said, is to build collaborative innovative solutions through the creation of world-class, research-driven teaching and practitioner-oriented rural entrepreneurship and economic development programs. To achieve that goal, she added, the ASC will use “education, research, and hands-on projects to strengthen individuals and organizations so that they may build a more prosperous Appalachia.”
“Our vision is to be a leading center for innovative thinking and research on entrepreneurial activity in rural environments,” said Dr. Perot. “As such, we will work across constituencies to create new knowledge and tools that build thriving rural communities.”
Bluefield University business students will serve as interns in the ASC, not only providing support for its mission but also gaining mentoring and other support for their entrepreneurial interests. In fact, the center will serve as an incubator for BU business students and other local entrepreneurs.
“The Appalachian Summit Center will foster sustainable economic and social entrepreneurship for Southwest Virginia and Southern West Virginia,” said Dr. Marshall Flowers, vice president for academic affairs.