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‘Launch Recovery’ offers double boost

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

BLUEFIELD — Bluefield College is hosting a business competition designed to give a double boost to communities in Southwest Virginia and Southern West Virginia by helping recovering drug users launch their own businesses.

“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,” says business professor David Hite, who is leading a new program, called “Launch Recovery.”

According to the college, qualifying Pulaski County residents interested in opening a business in Pulaski County are eligible to participate in Launch Recovery.

The program is holding an event Friday, April 26, in which persons undergoing substance abuse recovery can pitch business proposals to a panel of judges in hopes of being among the top three winners.

Winners receive startup funds, mentoring and free business services to help them launch their new business. Even participants who do not win the competition will be paired with mentors and business leaders for assistance in entrepreneurship.

The “pitch” event begins at 6 p.m. at Crossroads Church, 740 Panorama Road, Bluefield, W.Va. The panel of judges consists of business leaders, professors and students.

Hite, assistant project manager Josh Dye, student and local pastor T. W. Cash, and Mountain Movers Christian Coalition developed the idea of Launch Recovery.

Hite added, “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.”

The group also hopes the program will correct the Appalachian stereotypes.

“Too many times our area has been portrayed as ignorant and incompetent on the national platform,” Cash said. “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.”

Hite is hopeful the competition will give communities a new level of respect for persons struggling with substance abuse addiction.

“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.

For more information, email dhite@bluefield.edu or jdye@bluefield.edu. Submit an application att launchappalachia.com.

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