RCBI expo to connect businesses to chemical, polymer makers

The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) and Advantage Valley, in conjunction with the West Virginia Development Office, will sponsor an expo Thursday, June 13, in Hurricane to link small businesses with major West Virginia chemical and polymer manufacturers.

Attendees of the West Virginia Chemical and Polymer Supply Chain Expo will learn about the processes to become suppliers to manufacturers such as APG Polytech, Brashkem, Clearon, Kureha, Optima Belle and Rubberlite, and have an opportunity to meet one-one-one with company representatives to learn about supplying materials, services and commodities necessary for day-to-day operations.

Recently, similar expos focusing on the automotive and aerospace industries resulted in several West Virginia companies becoming registered vendors for leading manufacturers in those sectors, according to Derek Scarbro, director of RCBI’s Appalachian Hatchery initiative.

"One way RCBI grows West Virginia’s economy is by connecting existing businesses to contracting opportunities here at home," Scarbro said. "This, in turn, enables larger manufacturers such as those in the chemical and polymer sector to learn about potential in-state suppliers, some of which may be capable of providing goods and services faster, more reliably and even cheaper."

Terrell Ellis, executive director of Advantage Valley, sees great benefit in business-to-business events such as the expo. "If small businesses have the opportunity to learn the needs of key industrial players, they may have the capability to become a part of the local supply chain.  It can be a win-win situation, allowing companies to make the choice to use a local supplier," Ellis said. "This opens new markets for our small businesses. We all know that when we grow our local businesses, it has an exponential effect on the local economy. Sometimes our existing businesses need a little help to serve a new economy, one that is no longer based primarily on coal."

The June 13 expo will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Valley Park Conference Center in Hurricane. The event is free and open to the public. Register at www.rcbi.org/go/chemicalexpo.

The event is a project of RCBI’s Appalachian Hatchery, in partnership with Advantage Valley, which is part of POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization), a multi-agency initiative that delivers federal resources to help communities affected by job losses in coal mining and related industries. Funding is provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission, U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

For more information, contact Ellis at 304-546-7323 or Scarbro at 304-781-1684.