ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Some aid to area businesses is coming in the form of the Business Resource Network.
During last week's commissioners meeting, Angie Peters, BRN manager for Belmont, Harrison, Carroll and Jefferson counties, delivered a presentation. She noted that the BRN was created through a grant from the Department of Labor. The program began in 2008 in the northeastern counties, and Peters said due to its success, the grant was extended into other areas. Last year they were awarded a two-year Workforce Innovation Grant of $6 million through the Department of Labor.
Currently, the BRN covers 16 counties. Peters noted it is a proven model.
T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK
Angie Peters, Business Resource Network manager for Belmont, Harrison, Carroll and Jefferson counties, makes a presentation to Belmont County commissioners.
"What we do is bring together partners," she said, adding that they connect with government entities, schools, universities, port authorities, and economic development agencies. "Any organization that has any business services to provide."
BRN representatives from each county interview various businesses to learn of their challenges and opportunities. As of the presentation, 31 businesses had been interviewed, with eight scheduled to be interviewed.
"The good thing with the BRN network though is that when we interview in other counties, we're all bringing resources together so that we can join as one to expedite services in a way that has never been done before."
She added that the goal was to serve businesses in a systematic, collaborative role. They will expand the program during the next two years.
"We're very excited about expanding the collaboration in these counties," she said, adding that businesses are prioritized by their wants and needs. "We work with small businesses, large businesses, all businesses that have a need for these services."
She added that the network can offer continuous aid as a point of contact for every service and business in the partnership.
Possible services include making a business aware of a wider range of options for expansion at the national and international level, as well as ways to take advantage of the oil and gas boom. The Harrison and Carroll County commissioners are in the process of partnering with BRN to better respond to businesses with needs regarding roads or other infrastructure and public access to developable land.
She noted the value of communication.
"There are a lot of little projects going on in our region that benefit all four counties, and without the partnership, each of the counties would not know," she said.
The Business Resource Network office is located at 114 North Fourth St., Steubenville. For more information, contact area representative Anthony Iachini at (740) 457-9573.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org