Innovation is one of seven of the Kanawha Valley economic drivers identified in the Vision 2030 plan. The other six are the chemical industry, energy industry, education, leadership, health and downtown revitalization.
For blooming businesses, the Alliance formed GROW, a program designed to foster entrepreneurship in the Kanawha Valley. GROW offers educational courses, which the University of Charleston Graduate School of Business hosts, and also offers coaching from West Virginia Small Business Development Center business coaches.
The businesses meet monthly to talk to mentors and other business owners.
Businesses looking for access to cash capital benefited from the group's "crowd funding" event, Thrive.
"Crowd funding is a new spin on raising capital funds for businesses," Naumoff said.
A blind panel selected nine Kanawha Valley-based businesses with 30 or fewer employees in September. Each business produced 60-second video pitches to promote their business and the need for crowd funds.
For a $20 fee, guests were allowed to vote for one of the nine videos they wanted to support. Thrive 2012 raised $3,380, which was split between Hoopalytics and U.L Coaching and Consulting, because the two had tied votes, she said.
To bring together those who employ the future work force and the educators who teach them, the Alliance hosted an eight-day seminar in July called the Educator/Industry Institute.
"A key piece of the future of an economy is education," Naumoff said. "This seminar brought educators together who learned about eight different industry sectors."
Twenty educators have earned stipends for this year's seminar, which is slated for July 8-18, Naumoff said.
Finally, the group's latest initiative, Energy Efficiency in the East End (E4), pits East End residents against their neighbors in a competition to conserve energy.
Starting this month, residents from at least 25 East End blocks will compete to see who can save the most electricity and natural gas over the next year.
For more information about Vision 2030 and its programs, contact Naumoff at 304-340-4253 or cnaum...@charlestonareaalliance.org.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.