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“In no other place but West Virginia would this work so well.”

Dominick Claudio has helped launch a dozen small businesses in North Central West Virginia. A law office, a real estate company, a consignment shop, and an oral surgery center, to name a few. And he started without capital.

The difference is that West Virginia has low-cost real estate in downtown locations, and a generation of current owners sometimes willing to enter Lease Purchase Agreements or Owner Financing Agreements to help out an up-and-coming entrepreneur. The other secret to Dominick and his partners’ success is that they’ve developed the ability to run the backend for new businesses (marketing, legal, accounting), so other entrepreneurs have a place to put their talents.

“World War II brought my family out of poverty. My grandfather came to West Virginia to work in the Purse Glove coal camp. The war gave him a chance for a better life.”

So when an 1940s-era Army-run factory (pictured) opened up in Morgantown, Dominick saw an opportunity to build a home for his businesses inside his family’s history. Blueprints and old photos adorn the original brick walls.

“I just feel so blessed. There are so many people that came to this state and didn’t fare so well. My family getting the opportunities they got: it was sheer luck. Now it’s up to us, to our generation, to do something with that luck.

“All I hear about is how great our downtowns used to be. That’s what I want again.”

Our state knows how to build thriving local economies. We’ve done it before. We can do it again.

But it doesn’t come from skimping on infrastructure, undermining unions, and hamstringing local businesses.

It comes from choosing local workers, local businesses, and local infrastructure over out of state monopolies. It comes from big ideas like a state bank to drive down the cost of getting a small business loan. And it comes from freeing entrepreneurs to compete on a level playing field.

Dominick is already looking to support the next generation. Maybe you know the next great entrepreneur who needs help with their back-end. Maybe that’s you.

Join us to get involved.

View some of our plans to address these issues here: