The start-up business picture in West Virginia became even brighter today with the announcement from Country Roads Angel Network (CRAN) that it was naming Morgantown businessman Frank Vitale as its president.
Recognized as the Mountain State’s first accredited angel network, CRAN was launched in late 2019, and now will have Vitale at the helm with a focus on doubling CRAN’s current investor roster over the next two years and generating millions of dollars of investments for WV start-up businesses.
“As an angel network, the CRAN track record to date is quite impressive,” noted chair Kevin Combs. “And, it’s only going to shine further in the months ahead. Our investors know that West Virginia is on such a positive track these days and they want to be part of designing a 21st Century economy in the state that is focused on the future, focused on creating quality jobs, and putting our state in the forefront of new discoveries in health, technology, energy, the arts and food.”
Vitale added, “West Virginia is poised for tremendous investment and growth in the start-up and early stage space. Rest assured that CRAN will be a lightning rod for this.”
He continued, “Thanks to the vision of Kevin, Bill Massey of the Massey Family Foundation and others, along with a very active board of directors, CRAN is powered by an investor talent pool dedicated to growing all types of entrepreneurial opportunities all over West Virginia. I am very honored to be named as CRAN’s president.”
Over a three-year period beginning in December 2020, CRAN has made direct investments of $1.2 million in entrepreneurs and those angel funds have been complemented by matching capital dollars approaching $10 million. To date, CRAN has provided angel fund support to:
- Cox Telecom LLC of Oak Hill.
- Parthian Battery Solutions LLC of Morgantown.
- Mountain Steer Meat Company of White Sulphur Springs.
- Endolumik Inc. of Morgantown.
- Iconic Air of Morgantown.
- O Pioneer/Coat of Arms of Helvetia.
Vitale has more than two decades of experience in banking, entrepreneurship and government service. He currently leads Forge Business Solutions as president and CEO and will continue in that role in addition to serving as president of CRAN. Prior to founding Forge, Vitale held senior roles at Centra Bank (now United Bankshares) and Clear Mountain Bank. He is a graduate of Valley Forge Military College and holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from West Virginia University as well as completing executive certificate programs at Georgetown University and Pepperdine University.
A former U.S. Army officer, Vitale is committed to championing the entrepreneurial dreams of veterans and their families. He also serves on the boards of Leadership WV, the WV Public Education Collaborative, and formerly chaired the boards of the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Monongalia and Preston counties.
The announcement of Vitale as president of CRAN comes on the heels of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation making a $150,000 grant to CRAN in November to further propel the angel network in WV.
In the weeks ahead, Vitale said he plans to make visits around the state to tell the CRAN story and to meet with leaders in business and economic development.