MORGANTOWN, W.V.a. – Forge Business Solutions has become the first veteran-owned business in West Virginia to win a National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) certification.

Forge, which has three focuses: government services; at the state level and federally, education and healthcare solutions, has been in business for less than three years. According to 17-year U.S. Army veteran and CEO/president, Frank Vitale, they currently have a staff of five people but they’re hoping to grow with the Veteran’s Business Enterprise (VBE) certification they have received from NaVOBA.

“What I’m really excited about receiving the VBE certification is I think it’s going to open a much bigger network for us now that we’re affiliated with NaVOBA,” Vitale said. “That’s going to hopefully allow us to bring more jobs to north central West Virginia, West Virginia as a whole and the region.”

The celebration of receiving the certification was attended by organizations Forge works with like Mylan Park, as well as U.S. Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) who represents the 1st District where Forge is located.

Congressman McKinley said many people have given up on the American Dream, however, Vitale and Forge had not, so he attended to show support of someone willing to try and realize that dream.

“The American Dream is alive and well and it just needs to be fostered,” McKinley said. “Someone like Frank Vitale, he’s great, he’s the kind of guy that can put West Virginia back on the map again, so I’m very much encouraged. When I find something that Frank is going to do I want to help it. Anyone, particularly a veteran-owned business, let’s stand behind him, let’s give him a chance. they’ve defended us, they’ve sacrificed for us, it’s time for us to support our veterans.”

Forge officially received the certification in January 2020, Vitale said, shortly after receiving it they were invited to Louisville, KY to visit the Papa John’s headquarters to help develop a strategic plan. There, they also met with the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lowe’s Home Improvement and several other large organizations.

Vitale said he believes that being a part of this new network will open new opportunities for job creation and economic development.

With West Virginia slated for redistricting after the 2020 census is complete, that will mean one of the three seats in the U.S. Congress that West Virginia holds will go away, leaving the state with two seats. This is according to congressman McKinley who said he does not like the fact that the seat will be lost.

“Maybe it’s going to wake up West Virginia, wake up people that have a chance,” McKinley said. “Go out and try, yeah you might stumble, you might stub your toe but go out and try, we’ve all had bad experiences in businesses one one way or the other but I like the fact that he’s going to make it.”

The congressman continued.

“Maybe it helps to diversify because that’s the problem we have in West Virginia, we’ve never quite diversified our economy enough but if you take from Morgantown to Clarksburg, that’s the future of West Virginia, what’s happening here. We’re attracting good, bright people and we’re going to do more research. We’re working with the presidents at WVU and also at Marshall. How do we find ways to diversify the economy through research because I think we have the talent here to put that together and Frank fits perfectly into that as we go into development.”