Business Incubator promotes entrepreneurship

Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business’s partnership with the Brad. D. Smith Business Incubator is offering new opportunities for not only students and graduates, but the Huntington community.

Tricia Ball, interim associate director of the Incubator and associate director of the Marshall University Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, will work as the new leader of the entrepreneurship facility. 

The Brad D. Smith Business Incubator is a partnership between Marshall’s Brad D. Smith Schools of Business and Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI). Ball says this new Incubator is an organization that is designed to help businesses accelerate and grow. 

“This organization provides mentoring business coaching and shared office spacing,” Ball said. “We offer shared conference rooms and printers. If you were a new business just getting ready to begin, it would be expensive to purchase those on your own.” 

Ball says this organization works to keep students in West Virginia after graduation. 

“Seventy-five percent of people coming out of college want to start their own business,” Ball said. “Seventy-five percent of all new jobs are created by startups.” 

Ball also said that she believes the Incubator can provide economic development for Huntington. 

“We have this big issue right now in the state of West Virginia where our youth wants to grow up and leave,” Ball said. “Everyone wants to get a college education out of state. I think 

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this organization can show people that you don’t have to leave West Virginia, you can stay here and create your own jobs. We are here as a mechanism to help do that.” 

Ball says her goal for the Incubator is to help create and grow transformative businesses. 

“We could create the next Uber or the next Facebook,” Ball added. “This can bring people into the state, which would be huge for the economic development for Huntington, as well as the entire state of West Virginia.” 

Ball also said that for business students specifically, this partnership can provide necessary, hands-on experiences.

“It’s important to me that people have experience with learning opportunities,” Ball said. “This provides students with internships and I think it’s just a great experience that provides hands-on learning for them.”

Ball says that educational programing will also be present for Incubator clients.

“This will be open to students and the public as well, so if anyone is interested in learning about anything, they would have access to that,” Ball said.

Ball also said that in the future, she hopes to work towards monthly events that can be held in-person.

“I would like to do monthly networking events where we could bring together Incubator clients and members of the business community so they can meet each other,” Ball said. “This would help clients a lot in terms of help with marketing or legal assistance, as well as potential customers for their business as well.”

Ball said one of her main goals is to make sure Mar- shall Students are aware of the Incubator.

“I want students to know that this exists and that if they have an idea for a business, the College of Busi- ness, the Incubator and the iCenter are here to help students start them,” Ball said.

Carson McKinney can be reached at [email protected]