BECKLEY – The Country Roads Angel Network (CRAN), a new program supported by the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) of Beckley, is underway to address the gap in access to capital by providing accredited investors the opportunity to support start-ups in West Virginia. On Tuesday, the NRGRDA was announced by the U.S. Economic Development Administration as a 2019 Regional Innovation Strategies Program – Seed Fund Support grantee. The NRGRDA along with One Foundation will act as lead support sponsors for the CRAN project advisory board. The WV Hive Network, an initiative of NRGRDA, was also confirmed as the project manager and Charlottesville Angel Network members are set to provide programmatic and advisory support for CRAN.
The project is planned to take place over a 36-month period developing an Access to Capital Program providing support to early-stage innovation-based companies. Through scheduled educational opportunities, annual investor events and business outreach efforts, the CRAN program will be promoted across networks while leveraging local and national relationships. The NRGRDA will provide central administrative and fiscal management and the WV Hive Network will focus on supervising actives and outcomes for the program.
NRGRDA Director of Business Development Jina Belcher stated, “Securing funding from the US EDA RIS Seed Fund Support initiative is an exciting and innovative approach to entrepreneurial capital access for the state of West Virginia. The development of Country Roads Angel Network will provide early stage, risk capital and educational resources to both entrepreneurs served by the NRGRDA’s WV Hive Network initiative as well as other early-stage, innovation-based companies throughout the New River Gorge region and West Virginia.” The NRGRDA initiates, facilitates and supports the community and economic development efforts within the counties of Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh and Summers, all part of the New River Gorge region of West Virginia.
The CRAN program will include the development of an access-to-capital education program to educate entrepreneurs, small business owners, and investors in rural and underserved communities in West Virginia, with a specific focus on serving southern West Virginia. Over the next three years, CRAN is expected to bring at least $2 million from 40 potential private investors, creating at least 25 jobs, and launching 8-12 new and existing innovation-based businesses in West Virginia.