New PCDA retention specialist helps Putnam businesses grow

While a lot of attention is typically focused on bringing new businesses to Putnam County, Will Miller is focused on something a little different: keeping them here.

Miller was hired as the business retention specialist for the Putnam County Development Authority in November. The grant-funded position allows him to meet one-on-one with business owners in the county and help them best-determine how to continue to market themselves and expand.

“What I like about this is helping the existing business keep going and reinvent themselves,” he said. “If you stay stagnant for too long, nothing will change and nothing will grow.”

Miller said he spends most of his time out in the community meeting with business owners. He said he spends individual time at each business to learn what their needs are, where they’ve been, where they are now and where they would like to be in the future.

He’s able to help businesses find and apply for grants and help employers find employees through connections with local vocational schools and other programs, among other things.

The grant is from the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s Appalachian Hatchery, which aims to create jobs and provide “local technical assistance to manufacturers and new training opportunities in communities across southern West Virginia,” according to the program’s website.

He was placed in Putnam County through Advantage Valley, an economic development organization that serves the Charleston-Huntington metro region.

The connection with RCBI allows Miller to utilize a wealth of other resources to help Putnam County businesses live up to their fullest potential.

Miller has a marketing background and previously worked for the state tourism division, helping businesses in the state that are tourism-driven.

In his current position, he has the opportunity to work with the full spectrum of businesses in Putnam County.

“Any business in Putnam County. Anything from a one-person shop. There’s a gentleman in Hurricane who creates mascots. It’s not what you think of traditional manufacturing, but it is manufacturing,” he said. “Anything from that to the Toyotas.”

Meeting with Miller is free of charge for business owners, and all meetings are kept confidential, he said.

“A lot of people would be surprised to see how much is going on in Putnam County,” he said. “It’s getting the knowledge and awareness up of what’s available.”

His biggest goal, he said is to help businesses hire more employees, continue to grow and expand into new markets.

“The big goal is to get more people hired into Putnam County,” he said.

Business owners who are interested in meeting with Miller can email him at or call the PCDA at 304-757-0318.

Original Article published in the Putnam Review