The last five years have been monumental for creating an environment where West Virginia’s small business owners and entrepreneurs are welcomed and can thrive. And I am proud to be part of that multi-agency, multi-faceted effort. As WV Secretary of State, I serve as the state’s chief business registration and licensing official. More than half of my staff is dedicated to providing services to the more than 138,000 for-profit and non-profit entities doing business in West Virginia. Our Business & Licensing Division staff is now a team of seasoned, educated and trained professionals.
Working closely with the legislature and Governor Jim Justice, in 2018 we opened the WV One Stop Business Center. The idea of the WV One Stop had been discussed for years. But I discovered early on that this pro-business initiative needed a pro-business Secretary of State to lead the effort. And my staff was eager to join me in making the idea a reality.
Today, the WV One Stop Business Center in Charleston is the only five-agency, single location, business registration and licensing center in the nation. We are proud of our partnership with the WV Tax Department, the WV Department of Labor, Workforce-WV and the WV Small Business Development Center. Because of that partnership, what used to take up to ten days to open a new business in West Virginia can now take less than two hours.
In 2019, we opened two regional offices we refer to as “Business Hubs”. Business Hubs are staffed with professional WVSOS Business & Licensing agents and are directly linked to the WV One Stop Business Center. The Business Hubs are located in Clarksburg and Martinsburg. Business owners and entrepreneurs from anywhere in the state who may need in-person services are now less than two hours away from one of our three offices.
The WV One Stop and both Business Hubs also feature a new business kiosk provided by the WV Small Business Development Center. Conveniently located in the lobby of each office, the kiosk allows a business owner to log on to the SBDC website to learn more about the free coaching and business services provided by the SBDC.
The addition of our “WV New Business Start-Up Wizard” has also been a widely utilized tool for new business owners. This national award-winning technology, developed right here in the WV Secretary of State’s Office, provides an interactive opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn more about the options for the best corporate structure for their new business. You can learn more about the “Start-Up Wizard” online anytime at this link: https://apps.wv.gov/sos/bizwiz
Four years ago, WVU and Marshall University reached out to my office about assisting them in identifying those individuals, educational institutions, and agencies operating in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. We helped host the very first annual WV Entrepreneurship Conference. I am excited to participate in and looking forward to the annual conference on April 5th.
Hosted by the SBDC and the WV Department of Economic Development, the creation of the WV BusinessLink network is a result of the collective effort of the state’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. Today, there are more than 140 network resources publicly available to any entrepreneur or small business owner looking for support and assistance. You can learn more about WV BusinessLink and utilize their Resource Navigator to narrow your search by going to this link: https://wvbusinesslink.com/resources/
Every business operating in West Virginia should take advantage of the user-friendly services now available on our website. You can register your business and easily maintain your Annual Report filings. You can learn more about the fee waiver programs and workshops offered by state agencies. And you can learn how to file for a WV Contractor’s License by going to our WV One Stop Business Portal at this link: https://business4.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx
I also want to take this opportunity to remind business owners that Annual Reports for those businesses operating in West Virginia are currently being accepted. The deadline to file an Annual Report is June 30th.
About the Author
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and the West Virginia University School of Law. He also holds two Masters Degrees – one in International Law from the University of Virginia and one in Military Law from the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s School. Prior to being elected West Virginia’s 30th Secretary of State, Secretary Warner served five years with the U.S. State Department in Afghanistan.
In addition to his duties as the state’s chief elections officer, Secretary Warner also serves as the state’s chief business official. Today in West Virginia, there are more than 138,000 for-profit and nonprofit entities licensed to do business in the Mountain State. In 2018, Secretary Warner worked with the WV Legislature to establish the WV One Stop Business Center — the first five-agency single-location business and licensing center in the nation.
Secretary Warner is a sixth generation West Virginian. Both he and his wife, Debbie, grew up in the Kanawha Valley. They are the parents of four grown children, two sons and two daughters, all of whom are serving or have served in the United States military. They are also the proud grandparents of six grandchildren.