During the past few months, Jack Kirby has started seeing more clients from Clarksburg come to his Fairmont office.
As program manager for the Fairmont State College Regional Small Business Development Center, that is encouraging economic news for Harrison County.
Now, Kirby is taking his show on the road.
"We want to bring our resources here," he said.
The Regional SBDC and the Harrison County Development Authority have joined forces to allow Kirby to do just that. Now, on the second Thursday of each month, Kirby will set up shop at the HCDA office on Platinum Drive in Bridgeport.
"I hope we can work with the small businesses in Harrison County by actually coming down here instead of making them come to Fairmont," Kirby said. "We've worked with a lot already. This will allow us to do extensive outreach."
Kirby already has conducted one session at the HCDA office. The next is scheduled for April 13, he said.
"I'll be here on the (second) Thursday of every month," he said. "(The HCDA) is the contact point. I'll come here with all my material and my laptop."
Kirby's SBDC site is one of 12 in the state. The Fairmont office has satellites in Morgantown and Elkins. Together, those offices cover 10 counties in North Central West Virginia.
Despite covering such a large area, the offices still can offer one-on-one business counseling, Kirby said.
"That's what people seem to like most," he said. "Someone can come to us and say, 'I want to buy a business É .' They can request assistance from us. We have a wealth of resources.
"We can help them devise a business plan, find out about market availability, do financial planning, prepare for a bank loan -- we can help people find all kinds of different sources of funding."
The SBDC also can assist businesses considering expansion, Kirby said.
In addition to the one-on-one counseling, the center also conducts workshops and seminars, he said.
The goal of the partnership between the development authority and the SBDC is to give businesses a better chance at success, said Joe Gero, executive director of the HCDA.
"Within a five-year period, 80 percent of all new businesses fail," he said. "One of the things (the partnership) will do is allow entrepreneurs to gain needed skills and educate them as to how to make effective business decisions.
"The SBDC can provide them with information about how to make those decisions."
SBDC services are free and confidential, Kirby said. And he will work with busy business people who cannot make it to the Thursday meetings.
"If someone can't make it on the second Thursday of the month, they can come to my office (in Fairmont), or we can arrange to meet here on another day.
"If there is enough interest in this, I might be down here more than just one day a month in the future."
Those interested in meeting with Kirby need to call ahead to schedule an appointment, he said. He will meet with clients between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on those days. Each appointment will take about two hours.
Having a greater presence in Harrison County is important for the SBDC because of the potential here, Kirby said.
"I think we can do a lot of good in Harrison County," he said. "There is a lot of growth potential here."