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Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center assembles new advisory council

Steven Cutright, Director director of the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, addresses the new advisory council.

Bolstering the mission to champion entrepreneurship across West Virginia is complex, so the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship called upon experts to join the effort. Since it is housed in the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics, the Center gathered influential members of West Virginia’s entrepreneurial community to create the BrickStreet Center Advisory Council.

“We are pleased we were able to attract such high-level business and community leaders to help the BrickStreet Center connect with the business community across the state,” Steven Cutright, director of the Center, said. “Through their strong connections, resources and knowledge, the mission of this council is to identify opportunities and challenges throughout the state, which can benefit from the business services and support programs offered by the BrickStreet Center.”

Cutright strategically sought individuals throughout West Virginia who would be able to connect the BrickStreet Center with pertinent areas in the state that are in need of the skills and capabilities of the Center. 

“I was really pleased to be asked because I think the Center offers great possibilities not only for small businesses and startups in the state, but also to give the students in the College real world experience that will help them in their careers,” said Anne Barth, council member and executive director of TechConnect WV.

Meeting for the first time in mid-January, the Council consists of the following members:

  • Priya Baskaran – Director, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic, WVU
  • Anne Barth – Executive Director, TechConnect WV
  • Greg Burton – CEO, BrickStreet Insurance Company
  • Joe Carlucci – Network Director, West Virginia Hive
  • Kristopher Hopkins – Director, West Virginia Development Office
  • Major General James Hoyer – West Virginia Adjutant General
  • Anne Jones – Executive Director, Tucker County Development Authority
  • Greg Morris – CEO, Pace Enterprises
  • Parween Mascari – Trustee, Benedum Foundation
  • Kristina Oliver – State Director, West Virginia Small Business Development Center
  • Guy Peduto – Director, INNOVA Commercialization Group
  • Carrie White – Director, WVU LaunchLab

And in the council members’ initial encounter, the group hit the ground running, brainstorming about their current business relationships and how to leverage those to continue to foster the Center’s mission.

“It was great to meet the other members of the Council who are going to serve. It’s a wonderful group that represents a wide range of interests around the state – all people interested in fostering economic development and creating jobs here in West Virginia,” Barth said. “For me, it was personally very enlightening to hear about the projects the students have already done. It was interesting to see the breadth and depth of the type of work underway in the Center.”

Working with both undergraduate and graduate business students, the BrickStreet Center is deeply involved in the community and economic development in the state. The Center has completed several experiential learning projects over the last few years ranging from the West Virginia Cancer Clinical Trials Network to the City of Shinnston to the development of a multimillion dollar aquatic center at Mylan Park in Morgantown    .

“We want to continue to help areas and businesses in need across the state. We want to enhance the level of entrepreneurship in the state, and we believe with this group we can make that happen,” Cutright said.

But the BrickStreet Center is not all about experiential learning. Other major pillars of the Center include social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education. The council will also offer new and innovative means in those areas.

“The BrickStreet Center has a strong emphasis in entrepreneurial programming, including both the High School and Collegiate Business Plan Competitions, the West Virginia Governor’s School of Entrepreneurship and the WVU Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization,” Julia Bolt, assistant director of the BrickStreet Center, said. “One of things we are charging the members of the council to do is to support our programming efforts by providing new ideas and ways for the students and the Center to connect to the state’s business landscape.”