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ARC Partners with Benedum Foundation, Microsoft, and Verizon to Help Mission West Virginia Launch Technology Academy

June 2006

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced today that it is working with the nonprofit Mission West Virginia to launch a technology academy that will provide skill-specific training in e-commerce applications for small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the state. The training program is a result of assistance from ARC and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, while the training labs will be equipped with software provided by a donation from Microsoft.

A major benefit of the training program is the provision of new computers to participants in the academy. The computers, provided by Verizon, will not only assist in the training program but will also provide an incentive for completing the course requirements. They can then be used to further develop computer skills at home and in the workplace.

Total assistance of over $950,000 will be provided by ARC and its partners to make the launch of the technology academy possible.

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin welcomed the launch of the Mission West Virginia Technology Academy. "The ability of partners to come together like this is a tremendous asset for all of West Virginia," he said. "Upon completion of this program, we hope to have 450 small-business personnel develop greater knowledge of e-commerce applications. In addition, they will have the necessary tools to move their businesses forward."

ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope stated that "we at ARC know that technology is the key to being competitive, and we are proud to participate in this partnership. In the past, ARC has supported Mission West Virginia by providing funding for the creation of computer labs across the state. Now, by partnering with Benedum, Microsoft, and Verizon, we are able to assist in providing computer training to businesses across the state. Furthermore, the small businesses attending the tech academy will have the computer tools necessary to be able to bring their businesses into the Information Age. I applaud Mission West Virginia for taking on this task—and I commend our partners for their assistance."

"Technology has opened up a world of opportunity for West Virginians, and Verizon is deeply committed to supporting programs that give our citizens the essential skills they need to succeed in the twenty-first century," said H. Stan Cavendish, president of Verizon West Virginia. "Technology-based learning can motivate and empower individuals and has a profound and positive effect on the quality of life in our communities."

"The Benedum Foundation proudly supports the work of Mission West Virginia to help provide the needed technological tools and training to many of the state's citizens so that our communities can be stronger and more connected to the global economy," said Mary Hunt-Lieving, program officer for community and economic development. "We appreciate the partnership of the Appalachian Regional Commission and other funders who recognized and rewarded Mission West Virginia's worthwhile efforts."

"Microsoft's mission has always been to help people realize their potential, no matter what their circumstance," said Microsoft Mid-Atlantic States District General Manager Michael Ferreri. "Through our products, technology expertise, and initiatives like this partnership with ARC and the Mission West Virginia Tech Academy, we hope to improve education and create opportunities for individuals across the entire community."

"We are very excited to be providing the Mission West Virginia Technology Academy to the people of West Virginia," said Chris Wood, executive director of Mission West Virginia. "Through the support of ARC, Benedum, Verizon, and others, we can help budding entrepreneurs and small business owners best utilize the technological tools that are becoming necessary to do business in today's marketplace."

Participants in the tech academy will be selected according to their records in promoting collaboration, responding to community needs, and demonstrating good planning.

Those interested in applying to the technology academy can contact Mission West Virginia at (304) 562-0723.