Businessmen set to lead Brad D. Smith Business Incubator

The Marshall University Brad D. Smith Business Incubator in downtown Huntington is open and ready for business under the leadership of co-directors who will help entrepreneurs and new businesses develop ideas and business models.

The new co-directors for the facility located in the Visual Arts Center on 3rd Avenue in Huntington are James D. Rorrer and Casey J. Robinson, both of whom are Marshall graduates.

Rorrer graduated from the Lewis College of Business in 1971. Following graduation, he worked for First Huntington National Bank until 1976. From 1976 to 1994 he worked in the field of institutional investments in West Virginia and Virginia. From 1994 until retiring in 2014, he served as the managing director of CapGroup Investment Advisors LLC in Richmond, Va. Since moving back to Huntington, Rorrer has served on the Lewis College of Business Executive Advisory Board, the Marshall University Foundation board and the Big Green Scholarship Foundation board.

Rorrer says to be able to play a part in the infancy of the Brad D. Smith Incubator is important to him.

"I hope that my experience, commitment and energy can, in some small way, make a positive difference," Rorrer said. "I feel that my involvement in the region will help with the Brad D. Smith Business Incubator’s mission of being a resource for the development of new business in the region."

Casey Robinson comes to the incubator after 30 years of work experience as a certified financial planner and financial advisor. When Robinson retired in 2014, he was a senior vice president with Morgan Stanley. Robinson graduated from Marshall in 1981 with a bachelor of science and in 1984 with a master of business administration.

Robinson says when he was approached by Marshall University President Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert about serving in this role, he saw it as a service to his alma mater.

"The opportunity in my mind is pretty basic, as an attempt to give back to the university in any way that I can to enhance its progress and student experience," Robinson said.

Robinson said the role Marshall plays in the development of Huntington cannot be understated.

"It is my personal perspective that the city of Huntington’s future is very dependent on the success of Marshall," Robinson said. "Utilizing Marshall’s resources to enhance economic opportunities and growth in Huntington is crucial to the city."

The incubator will focus on helping new businesses gain access to infrastructure and support that can be supplied by the Lewis College of Business and the accompanying Brad D. Smith Schools of Business. They’ll also have access to the iCenter, housed in the College of Business and to the university’s Robert C. Byrd Institute. According to Rorrer and Robinson, the incubator is uniquely situated to make a transformational effort in the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Tenants are currently being accepted. For more information, contact Rorrer at 304-696-5120.

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Photo: James Rorrer (left) and Casey Robinson will head the new Brad D. Smith Business Incubator.