WLU, WALS Introduce Wheeling Incubator - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WLU, WALS Introduce Wheeling Incubator

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Matthew Myles and Caleb Filburn graduated from West Liberty University in May. Today they are owners of a graphic design firm known as "Neue" (pronounced "New") in, appropriately, a new small business incubator in downtown Wheeling.

On Aug. 27, West Liberty and the Wheeling Academy of Law and Science announced the opening of the incubator in the First State Capitol, which they refer to as  Wheeling's "Intellectual Capitol."

"This partnership will work with West Liberty graduates to create economic opportunity and businesses that grow, mature and stay in the Wheeling area," Carrie White, director of the WLU Center for Entrepreneurship, said in announcing the incubator.

White will be co-director of Intellectual Capitol along with Jay Good, who also is the executive director of WALS.

Myles said he and Filburn met while attending West Liberty. They were put together in a graphics art group whose task was to work with actual clients.

"We ended up working really together," Myles said in a telephone interview. "About two months ago we met jay for the first time and it steamrolled."

Myles and Filburn worked out of their homes until they secured space in the incubator. Now they have their own office and access to a conference room, legal advice and other things businesses need, Myles said.

"It definitely does feel more professional, and it looks better when you're meeting with a client," he said.

The incubator is an outgrowth of West Liberty's entrepreneurial program, White said.

"The enrollment in our entrepreneurial program is growing. We want to keep the momentum with their businesses," she said.

The entrepreneurial program is more than a program for business students, White said. It encourages students in science, education, graphic design and business programs, among others, to start their own businesses, she said.

Attorney Patrick Cassidy, along with his wife, educator Mary Ellen Cassidy, founded Wheeling Academy of Law and Science and the WALS Foundation more than a decade ago.

Intellectual Capitol's mission is to incubate graduates and mentor them with their business goals, ultimately launching WLU alumni into self-sustaining local businesses.

Additionally, the incubator assists with technology and office needs, business planning, funding sources, locating clients and general business startup.

Startup businesses need more than space, of course. They need capital, and while Intellectual Capitol does not provide capital directly, it can act as a facilitator, Good said.

"We're always open to alumni and angel investors who would like to fund our program," he said.