EDA award will bolster RCBI ability to deliver economic assistance

July 29, 2020

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University has been awarded $300,000 by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to boost its capacity to support regional economic development in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This award will enable RCBI to more effectively deliver critical assistance and broaden our outreach to bolster West Virginia businesses and entrepreneurs struggling during this unprecedented economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director and CEO. “The EDA has long been an economic catalyst in West Virginia through its support of our West Virginia EDA University Center and other initiatives at RCBI and Marshall University.”

RCBI’s EDA University Center will use the CARES Act Recovery Assistance funding to assist small- and mid-size manufacturers and entrepreneurs statewide in their COVID-based business responses. The support will target business pivots and modifications through access to emerging technology. The EDA University Center leverages the resources of the university to spur economic development in the region.

The EDA funds will allow RCBI to add additional resources to the EDA University Center that include a design engineering position to assist specifically with prototyping and small-batch manufacturing. It will augment the resources in its Innovation Center to increase the access of micro-entrepreneurs and very early-stage startup businesses, which will include the purchase of new 3D-printing technology to increase capacity.

The University Center will focus on advancing regional commercialization efforts through a combination of design assistance, rapid prototyping, small-batch manufacturing, quality implementation and the expansion of new markets. Additionally, RCBI will leverage distance technology to assist manufacturers and business owners with the adoption of lean practices in the management of their businesses.

This effort builds on the core mission of the EDA University Center at Marshall University, which leverages research and educational resources available through the strength of Marshall’s academic and outreach programs and harnesses them to improve the economic stability and growth of business in West Virginia, said Bill Woodrum, director of RCBI’s EDA University Center.

West Virginia’s two U.S. senators praised the EDA award at a time when many state residents and businesses are struggling.

“As health care providers across West Virginia care for those with COVID-19, we also need to address the economic impacts of this global health crisis on our communities and businesses,”said Sen. Joe Manchin.“I am pleased the EDA is supporting Marshall University’s initiatives to boost economic development in Huntington and across the region. Main Street needs help right now, and I will continue to fight for funding in future COVID-19 response packages that assist our local businesses and communities during this difficult time.”

 “The COVID-19 pandemic has put tremendous pressure on our economy in West Virginia,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. “As a result, we must provide the resources to build the foundation our state needs once we are able to operate at full capacity again. This funding will help support Marshall University in this goal and provide Huntington and the surrounding area with a needed economic boost. I thank the EDA for their support in helping our state adjust to these challenging times.”

Businesses and entrepreneurs that need assistance should contact Woodrum by phone at 800-469-7224 or by e-mail at .