Editorial: Help is available for budding manufacturers in West Virginia

While there seems to be many barriers to businesses – particularly new manufacturers – getting started in the Mountain State, there also are many people and organizations in West Virginia working hard to help entrepreneurs and new businesses see success.

Count the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing as one of the organizations providing strong support for manufacturing entrepreneurs.

As detailed by the Daily Mail’s Josephine E. Mendez in a Tuesday front-page story, RCBI recently installed an advanced 3-dimensional metal printer at its Marshall University’s South Charleston campus location.

The 3-D metal printer joins 3-D plastics printers and other precision manufacturing equipment in the RCBI inventory.

This is good news for budding manufacturers in the area – people with good ideas, good brains, a growing market, but without the funds or credit line to invest in their own high-tech manufacturing equipment. Through RCBI, they can share equipment that otherwise would be prohibitively expensive.

Those entrepreneurs need simply to go to the RCBI in South Charleston, or its Huntington, Bridgeport or Rocket Center, W.Va., locations, and see the possibilities.

Besides the advanced equipment, RCBI provides manufacturers with regional access to affordable workforce development and technical training programs. The goal is to help entrepreneurs develop new business and jobs in West Virginia.

The new 3-D metal printer has already been used to create products for Toyota, the U.S. Navy and ATK, an aerospace, defense and commercial products company. But the printer is also available for local business owners to create products of their own.

“There are not many machines like this in the country, and most are owned by private companies or large corporations and are not available for the public to use,” said Chris Figgatt, production engineer. “But all of our equipment is available to any company, individual, inventor or entrepreneur. They can run it like their own.”

People with ideas and the work ethic to make them profitable can get guidance and support in West Virginia thanks to the Robert C. Byrd Institute and its strategic partnerships with the state’s higher education institutions, business and government organizations.

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