From whitewater rafting to bison burgers, these WV SBDC clients offer unique products to suit your summer plans. 

The West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC) and our network of partners work together to construct a statewide ecosystem to foster the spirit, support and success of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators. Through business coaching and other resources for entrepreneurs, SBDCs have a huge impact on local economies by helping small businesses get started, stay open and grow.

As you plan your summer activities – from outdoor adventure to picnics and other social gatherings – consider supporting small businesses in West Virginia. And if you need assistance with your own startup or already-established small business, our coaches are happy to help.

River Riders

Five Small Businesses to Visit this Summer in the Mountain State

With its proximity to the Baltimore-D.C. metro areas, River Riders has always enjoyed a busy season during the warm-weather months. The Harpers Ferry adventure resort offers tubing, whitewater rafting, ziplining and aerial adventures along the picturesque Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

But, like many businesses, they faced a drop in revenue at the beginning of the pandemic. The company turned to WV SBDC Coach Mary Hott for assistance in securing funding. That wasn’t the first time River Riders had worked with Hott. She had assisted them on several occasions with business planning and expansion.

“She made it possible for me to focus on running our business, while she helped with the planning, writing, editing, and filling our applications for us. She was a huge asset for us!” said River Riders owner Matt Knott.

Matt Knott and his company River Riders is an example of a West Virginia business who knows they can reach out to small business resources in the state whenever there is a need. There was a relationship established years ago and COVID was just one example of the WV SBDC stepping in to provide support to his business continuation needs at that time.  

Summersville Lake Retreat & Lighthouse

Five Small Businesses to Visit this Summer in the Mountain State

When David and Daphne Ridgeway purchased Summersville Lake Retreat & Lighthouse in 2020, they sought business acquisition support from the WV SBDC.

The resort offers lodging and watercraft rentals, but its star attraction is the lighthouse that overlooks the cliffs of West Virginia’s largest lake and the Gauley National Recreation Area.

With all the amenities already in place, the Ridgeways decided to pump up the marketing and advertising for their newly acquired business.

They worked with WV SBDC Coach Shannon Mitchell. With her guidance, the WV SBDC provided website development and an ecommerce integration to enhance online presence, reach more customers and provide their customers an efficient online reservations platform.

“These services were funded through the SBA CARES ACT funding we received,” Mitchell said.

Aurora Coffee & More

Five Small Businesses to Visit this Summer in the Mountain State

The veteran-owned-and-operated Aurora Coffee & More consists of a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in Fayetteville as well as a mobile shaved ice truck.

The business was seeing steady growth as COVID restrictions were accelerating the demand for food truck vendors and one of their main coffee shop competitors was closed due to staffing issues. Co-owner Daniel Mikels needed to bring on additional employees to help with the coffee shop so they could continue to book more events for the mobile shaved ice truck.

Five Small Businesses to Visit this Summer in the Mountain State

WV SBDC Business Coach Heidi Prior helped the business get a customized and functional employee handbook, a checklist to reference when hiring new employees and a better understanding of how to organize employee paperwork safely. As a result, Aurora Coffee & More went from the two owners being the only employees to 5 employees (2 full time and 3 part time).

“In fact, they are currently interviewing for one more part-time employee as the busy summer season hits the New River Gorge region,” Prior said.

Gritstone Climbing + Fitness

Five Small Businesses to Visit this Summer in the Mountain State

A state-of-the-art climbing gym with terrain for all levels of climbers, Gritstone Climbing + Fitness also offers a yoga studio and a full-service fitness center. The facility worked with the WV SBDC to apply for a City of Morgantown grant application and utilized the CARES Act SME program to assist them with social media and branding.

“WV SBDC Coach Frank Goldsborough provided assistance by helping us acquire a grant that was exceedingly beneficial to our financial situation, as well as connecting me with a content specialist, Jens Kiel, to improve our marketing strategies,” said Jordan Pugh, marketing and social media coordinator for the facility.

“I thought Frank’s service was great! He is friendly, personable, and eager to help!”

Riffle Farms

Five Small Businesses to Visit this Summer in the Mountain State

Another veteran owned-and-operated small business, Riffle Farms raises grass-fed and finished bison in the hills of Preston County.

​Owner and Operator Liz Riffle began working with WV SBDC Coach Sharon Stratton in 2018, when Stratton helped them through creating a business plan. She also toured the farm and made recommendations on expansion ideas.

Over the past couple of years she also has helped the business with SBA COVID relief loans and assisted them with two grants that helped them put in more fencing to expand the herd.

 “This year she has been instrumental in getting me hooked up with streamlined bookkeeping services which will help us grow our business and be competitive for business loans,” Riffle said.

 Connect With Your WV SBDC Business Coach Today

Five Small Businesses to Visit this Summer in the Mountain State

Small business owners in West Virginia can take advantage of WV SBDC business coach expertise at no cost. Business owners can get connected with a business coach by calling 888-WVA-SBDC or sending an email to