Bluefield University professors and students are establishing a new program, Launch Recovery, to empower those in substance abuse recovery to start businesses in their communities. The program features a business competition that will allow contestants to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges, including local business leaders, professors, and students. The business pitches will take place on April 26, 2019 at 6 p.m. at Crossroads Church located at 740 Panorama Rd. in Bluefield, West Virginia.
The top three winners will receive start-up money, mentoring, and free business services that will help launch a new business. Contestants who do not win will also be paired with mentors and local business leaders who can aid them in their start-ups.
Launch Recovery is under the leadership of Business Professor David Hite, Assistant Project Manager Josh Dye, and student and local pastor T.W. Cash. Alongside the Mountain Movers Christian Coalition in Tazewell they brainstormed the idea of having a business proposal competition and aiding entrepreneurs with the connections and advising they need for a startup.
“There is an enormous need in our region to build business skills and hope for those in the community who may not have access to mentors and leaders that can be role models. We want Launch Recovery to be an organic movement to connect to different groups that can start small micro businesses in our region,” said Hite.
“The goal is not to create the next big million-dollar startup, but to help our community members start small businesses that help them support their families and grow our community,” continued Hite.
Not only will the program bring more businesses to the Southern, West Virginia and Southwestern, Virginia communities, but it will also help correct Appalachian stereotypes.
“Too many times our area has been portrayed as ignorant and incompetent on the national platform. I know this is far from the truth. It’s time to show the world just how resilient we really are and address the stigma of both addiction and Appalachian culture,” said Cash.
“I hope the community takes away a new level of respect for those who are struggling with addictions. I hope we begin having conversations on how entrepreneurship can inspire hope, build new networks of supports and skills and improve the image of our Appalachian communities,” added Hite.
“We have talented people in our area who have great ideas. We need a way to raise them up and empower them and their voices.”