Coalfield Development Corporation, UVA Wise and regional partners host first Appalachian Social Enterprise Summit

Isaias Martin Gutierrez and Zachary Cunningham
From left, Isaias Martin Gutierrez and Zachary Cunningham
Photo by Mark Robertson-Baker II

Coalfield Development Corporation, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVA Wise) and other regional partners are hosting the tri-state area’s first Appalachian Social Enterprise Summit.

The one-day summit which will be held Oct. 4 at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., features two UVA Wise students who will pitch their entrepreneurship business projects.

UVA Wise student Zachary Cunningham, a business administration major from Farmington, Mo., will share his vision linking eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia non-profits called Appalachia Social Capital Bridge.

Isaias Martin Gutierrez, a UVA Wise business major, will present his solution to help feed Appalachia called Hungry to Serve Appalachia. He hopes to tackle chronic hunger in the region though a non-profit that aims to reduce food waste and better utilize natural resources. Martin Gutierrez is from Huelva, Spain.

“The rise of social entrepreneurship in our region has led to several innovative business initiatives and entrepreneurs who want to run their business with the efficiency of a for-profit and the compassion of a non-profit,” said Brandon Dennison, chief executive officer for Coalfield Development. “To diversify the Appalachian economy, we believe the social enterprise model is essential for reaching the underserved communities scattered throughout Appalachia.”

The Summit hopes to attract aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in social entrepreneurship and business leaders who are already utilizing the social enterprise model and looking to network and expand their business.

Coalfield Development Corporation is hosting a farm-to-table dinner the evening before the summit at their West Edge Factory location. That event will feature community training opportunities for anyone interested in woodworking, screen printing and composting.

Gayle Manchin, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, will be the keynote speaker for the dinner and training.

Marshall University President Brad Smith is one of the speakers at the event, which also includes breakout sessions and workshops.

Summit sponsors include UVA Wise, Dutch Miller Auto Group, Virginia Tech’s Apex Center for Entrepreneurship, Invest Appalachia, West Virginia University’s LaunchLab, AutoDesk Foundation, Assured Partners, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service and the REDF Foundation. 

Coalfield Development is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization headquartered in Wayne, West Virginia focusing on rebuilding the Appalachian economy through social enterprise creation, job training, and community-based real-estate development

For more information about the dinner and summit please visit: