J. “Deacon” Stone, director of the Center for Innovation at Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI), has been promoted to director of the West Virginia EDA University Center, Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO, announced today.
University Center is a U.S. Economic Development Administration program to leverage the resources of regional colleges and universities to support economic development. West Virginia’s University Center, one of 66 across the country, has its headquarters at Marshall. It provides a full range of prototyping, entrepreneurial and manufacturing services.
“RCBI’s University Center recognizes that institutions of higher education are critical players in the development of vibrant economic ecosystems,” Weber said. “Deacon is a forward-thinking collaborative leader who also is a successful entrepreneur and more than prepared to guide this regional program, expanding the reach and depth of the center.”
“I look forward to building upon the successes of the EDA University Center to spur economic development through regional collaborations,” Stone said. “We’ll continue to partner with higher education institutions across the area to ensure that we leverage the strengths and expertise of each to deliver a focused and effective strategy for driving economic development.”
As director of RCBI’s Center for Innovation, Stone has assisted entrepreneurs across West Virginia, helping bring new products to market, empowering startups to innovate and grow and helping establish new businesses. Stone has collaborated with numerous university departments – including the colleges of Business and Information Technology, Engineering, School Medicine, and others – to facilitate technology transfer and commercialize research.
Stone joined RCBI in 2018. He previously served as marketing and outreach director for Solar Holler, a state-based renewable energy company; and project director for Coalfield Development’s West Edge Factory and enterprise president for its Rediscover Appalachia.
Stone studied electrical engineering at Ohio University. He earned a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from Marshall and a master’s of fine arts degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He also earned an executive education certificate from Harvard University Business School and a certificate in entrepreneurship center management from the International Business Innovation Association. The Ohio native is a graduate of South Point High School.
Derek Scarbro, RCBI deputy director and director of business development, said that EDA University Center’s goals for the next five years include creating at least 145 jobs and leveraging more than $1 million in private investment. The initiative targets state industries with the greatest growth potential, including aviation, advanced manufacturing, agriculture and food production, medical manufacturing, technology, and outdoor recreation.
For more information about the EDA University Center, contact Stone at or 304.781.1659 or visit www.rcbi.org/universitycenter.