West Virginia Department of Commerce Growing Business

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Growing Business

Go Back to Easy Being Green

Growing Business - somewhere that's green

Taste the sweetness of homegrown tomatoes served with gourmet flair… 
Go window shopping along a tree-shaded, historic main street… 
Wake to the chuckles of backyard hens, mixed with woodland sounds…
Reconnect with nature while fly fishing or zip lining among the hemlocks… 

Growing Business - somewhere that's green
Cider Mill House’s Katherine Cimaglio on her family farm turned B&B.

Are you dreaming of getting away for a weekend – or a lifetime – to someplace greener? Whether you want to start your own eco-friendly business or visit one, West Virginia is the place for you.

“People hunger for authentic places to eat and drink. They’re looking for different experiences or unique products. They want something they can tell their friends about,” said Justin Gaull. Gaull is a West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WVSBDC) coach based in Charleston who specializes in tourism-based businesses.

“Geotourism is about being aware of our cultural assets and packaging them in a way for people to discover,” he added. “West Virginia has always been self-sufficient, rural and green. Today, there’s real potential to take advantage of the growing interest in local foods and eco-friendly travel to build upon what our businesses and main streets are naturally doing.”

Martinsburg SBDC manager Christina Lundberg, agreed. 

Growing Business - somewhere that's green
Panorama at the Peak’s certified-organic, humanely raised beef hamburger with rosemary roasted organic Yukon Gold potatoes

Located in the state’s Eastern Panhandle, a few hours’ drive from the DC region and other East Coast metros, Lundberg often coaches entrepreneurs who left the Big City’s traffic and hassles to pursue full- or part-time agriculture-based businesses in the Mountain State.

“If you’re just starting, we may talk about how much land you have, whether you want it to be just a hobby and outline your five-year goals,” She explained. “Then, when farmers have had some successes with a few farmers markets for a few seasons, the questions become more related to product, like: What other products do you grow? Do you have enough quantity to expand? What do you want to do with any excess product? Do you want to diversify, adding something unique like heirloom tomatoes?”

As business coaches, Gaull and Lundberg evaluate where the people are in their businesses and work with them to identify the opportunities and area resources to help them grow. For instance, someone may want to make organic jellies and jams. But to grow that idea into a business, they’re going to go through U.S. Department of Agriculture content and labeling approval. They may need to make new connections for fruit and berry suppliers, commercial kitchens or outlets to sell their final product. That’s why Lundberg’s clients rely on her endless rolodex and how she keeps her finger on the region’s pulse, matchmaking businesses and making introductions at the right time.

Growing Business - somewhere that's green
Bison calf from Orr’s Farm Market, Martinsburg

In business, relationship is everything. But passion and good storytelling also go into how the best entrepreneurs market themselves and the state.

“It’s the same with any business. You have to be passionate about it. You have to love what you’re doing and be willing to tell the story,” Lundberg said. 

“Whether it’s a meal of the finest local foods or a relaxing B&B stay, in agriculture- or tourism-based businesses you’ll find yourself face to face with your customers. If you have product you’re proud of -- a product that’s good for folks -- it’s great fun to share your passion and your story for doing business with them. That’s a tale they’ll take home to their friends.”