WVSU Alumna Helping Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
Feb. 17, 2021
West Virginia State University Alumna Helping Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True
Tiffany Ellis-Williams offers business education and support through WVSU Economic Development Center
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – Since 2019, Tiffany Ellis-Williams has been helping entrepreneurs bring their business dreams to fruition as director of the West Virginia State University Economic Development Center (WVSU EDC), a business development incubator and coworking space located on Charleston’s West Side.

The WVSU EDC, operated through WVSU Extension Service, provides entrepreneurs, start-ups, small businesses and members of the community access to a low-cost coworking and business incubation space and multimedia production facilities that include video and audio capturing spaces, rentable office spaces and meeting rooms. The center also provides various business and community development workshops and services that enable entrepreneurs or small businesses to start, grow and expand.

It’s a role perfectly suited to Ellis-Williams, whose academic background includes degrees and certifications in entrepreneurship center management, economic development, a master’s degree in international affairs from Marshall University and a bachelor’s degree in political science with an economics minor from WVSU.

“I oversee and manage the daily operations of the WVSU EDC,” she said of her role. “I also coordinate, facilitate, develop and implement programs that provide networking opportunities and enhance the skills and knowledge of entrepreneurs, small businesses and community members.”

Among the center’s most notable offerings is the Opening Soon Inc. entrepreneurial program, geared toward new and existing small business owners. The multi-week training course, which moved into the virtual realm in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, recently started a new 10-week cohort, with more sessions planned for later in 2021. Another popular initiative, called the Creators Program, targets writers, artists, and musicians with skill-based workshops led by regional experts.

“I am proud that these programs provide free business development training to communities of color and the underserved who have limited access in order for them to succeed in their business endeavors,” Ellis-Williams said. “I’m also proud to have brought a diverse array of business and community development workshops to the people of the region, ranging from budgeting to social media, photography to scriptwriting for film.”

Ellis-Williams believes the work being done at the WVSU EDC is benefiting West Virginia by increasing skills and knowledge in the areas of budgeting, business credit, search engine optimization, social media marketing, certification and procurement opportunities for minorities. 

“Helping to make West Virginia’s small businesses viable, energetic and economically sustainable is a cornerstone of our community and economic development work,” said Dr. Ami Smith, director of WVSU Extension Service.

“The programs and support being provided through the WVSU EDC are helping entrepreneurs succeed. I’m proud of the growth and expansion Tiffany has facilitated and look forward to even more in the future.”

For Ellis-Williams, running the WVSU EDC is the latest in a career of helping West Virginia businesses thrive. Prior to returning to her alma mater, she worked for the West Virginia Development Office, responsible for business development by promoting the state as a prime location for business investment and job creation. She also acted as a liaison for coordinating and managing project development activities, including real estate, financing, tax, demographics, transportation, permitting, infrastructure and training. 

When the position to lead efforts at the WVSU EDC came open, Ellis-Williams found it a perfect fit.

“First of all, as a graduate of WVSU, I wanted to give back to the institution,” she said, noting that the institution has been part of her family for years. Both her father and sister are alums. “And secondly, the position was a chance for me to provide training and services to entrepreneurs and small businesses in West Virginia. That’s my passion.”

It is a passion that is paying off for the state’s entrepreneurs. The WVSU EDC serves hundreds of clients with business training, consultations, workshops and services every year. 

The WVSU EDC is located at 1506 Kanawha Boulevard West in Charleston. The center is currently closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Services and workshops are being offered digitally. For more information, visit wvsuedc.org or contact (304) 720-1403.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multigenerational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
Reasonable accommodations will be made to provide this content into reasonable alternate accessible formats upon request. Please contact the WVSU Extension Service office at (304) 204-4305 or extension@wvstateu.edu.
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