Huntington native returns to WV to boost entrepreneurship | Features/Entertainment

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HUNTINGTON  Jeremy Turner said when he told colleagues in Charlotte, North Carolina, that he planned on moving back home to West Virginia, most questioned his decision.

“Some would say I was going to go broke and go out of business,” he said. “But I haven’t, and my business has thrived here.”

Turner’s business, Epic Mission, launched in Charlotte in 2013.

While in Charlotte, Epic Mission did a variety of things. These included working for large nonprofit organizations, international for-profit companies and working with grassroots start-up businesses and entrepreneurs.

Turner, 44, is a Huntington native, who graduated from Huntington East High School in 1992. He holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from Marshall University and an MBA with a focus on entrepreneurship and family enterprise from Louisiana State University-Shreveport.

His father, Taylor Turner, was a professor of education at Marshall for nearly 40 years, and his mother, June Turner, worked at a downtown bank. But like many college graduates in the state, he moved away after graduating from college.

“I was chasing an opportunity in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I ended up staying for almost 20 years,” he said.

Around 2016, Turned wanted to bring Epic Mission to his hometown to help and give hope to those with the vision and dream of entrepreneurship.

“What I found in large part was that the help being provided for small businesses, entrepreneurs and non-profits is really not there for many hopeful entrepreneurs until they reach certain revenue level, then there are all kinds of help available,” Turner explained. “But for those with a dream, a vision or goal of starting their own business or organization there was not much help for them.”

Turner says his favorite quote is attributed to Mohandas Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

He says it suggests that your responsibilities begin and end with your own behavior.

“We have a lot of people who have vision for change, but it isn’t able just talking the change or envisioning the change, it’s about being the change,” Turner said. “So these entrepreneurs, non-profits and small businesses are out there changing the world by adding jobs in the community, filling gaps in society and providing new products and services for everyone. The work is really hard, but sometimes they have no help.”

Turner says Epic Mission offers help and support with coaching, consulting, training and support services for entrepreneurs, nonprofits and both large and small businesses.

“Unless you’re being taught how to be an entrepreneur or small business owner, you just do the best you can in the moment,” he said. “We just come alongside and let them know they are not alone anymore, we help them figure out what they need and get them and where they’re meant to be. We provide them with the holistic guidance they need to fulfill their vision and mission. Our mission is to meet the heroes of change where they are and, without judgment, provide the guidance they need to find, feed and fulfill their missions.”

Epic Mission’s clients include startup businesses to large established companies and organizations.

“HIMG is one of our clients, the United Way is another,” he said. “I have worked with school systems; large, for-profit entities; and the state’s nonprofit association and everything in between.”

Turner said Epic Mission’s Huntington location is mostly operated out of the new CoWorks space located in the JP Morgan Chase Building at 1000 5th Ave. in downtown Huntington.

“My office is wherever I sit with my computer, so as a means to keep costs down we don’t have brick-and-mortar offices,” he explained. “CoWorks is the perfect place for Epic Mission’s needs.”

CoWorks was created through a collaborative effort led by Turner and Bryan Shaw, president of Scaleable Ventures.

“Bryan and I met three years ago at the Governor’s School and we started about coworking back then,” Turner said. “I was still living in Charlotte, but planning to transition back here and was coming from an environment where there was coworking everywhere, but we saw there was no coworking space in Huntington.”

New businesses, new ideas and new opportunities for entrepreneurs is the goal for CoWorks, Huntington’s first coworking space, Turner said.

“In Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis and Lexington you could find 12 coworking spaces in any of those cities. Now you can find one in Huntington as well,” he said.

Turner said the coworking space is designed to generate revenue from the rental of flexible-term office space and to increase traffic into the Chase building for potential leasing of existing office space outside of the coworking sections.

“We intend to develop and implement programming to support and nurture Huntington’s growing entrepreneurial, nonprofit and small-business ecosystem,” Turner said. “Presentations, workshops, training sessions and networking events will provide opportunities for both aspiring entrepreneurs and established professionals to deepen their knowledge base and skill sets while interacting with a diverse set of like-minded people.”

Available space varies, ranging from daily drop-in rates to dedicated desk space and offices.

“Everything is month to month, all the utilities are included, and it also offers Wi-Fi, furniture and is designed for people to come together and work together,” he said.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said CoWorks will be creating the opportunity for establishing an entrepreneurial culture in the city.

“Entrepreneurship is what Huntington is all about,” he said.

Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Bissett said, “CoWorks will provide a much needed business resource that will help our growing community of entrepreneurs thrive here in Huntington. It gives us another valuable asset to assist both present and future businesses.

“This is a forced multiplier,” Bissett added. “It allows you to take the resources you have and make them bigger, and that’s what Huntington needs and that’s what CoWorks does.”

The entire building has almost 80,000 square feet of space, according to John Hankins with Hankins Management Co. LLC, which owns the building.

Hankins said Chase Bank occupies about 18,000 square feet of space on the ground level in the rear of the building.

“There’s another 18,000 square feet on the front entrance first level, and the mezzanine level has another 7,000 square feet,” Hankins said. “We have a firm called Necco that is in the foster care business that is on the second floor that moved in last summer, and they are occupying about 15,000 square feet. The third floor previously housed the Foundation for the Blind, but last December they went to virtual offices, so we have the third floor available, which is about another 15,000 square feet.”

Hankins said 25,000 square feet has been dedicated to CoWorks.

“If CoWorks expands past the initial need of 25,000 square feet, we are prepared to put that into this effort, which would be approximately 40,000 square feet,” he said.

Turner says his future includes teaching at Marshall University this spring.

“I’ll be teaching introduction to entrepreneurship. With my dad being a professor at Marshall for so long, it has always been a lifelong dream of mine,” he said.

Turner says he will also be launching a revolutionary cloud-based college planning software business.

“It’s a cloud-based, college planning subscription service for middle- to low-income families with the college career journey by helping the students pick careers or career directions that match their values interests, personality and skills. It also will help them select schools that match their personalities, academic and financial needs and constraints to pay the least amount possible through a strategy of budgeting, school selection, career selection and financial aid maximization. The goal is to get students into and through the best school possible and into a career that best suits them,” he said. “It will be called ‘1 Degree Closer’ and I am hoping to launch it by July 2019.”

Turner is a DISC-certified behavioral consultant and a certified coach with Ministry Ventures, an organization providing resources and coaching support to churches, ministries and ministry-based nonprofits. He serves on the leadership board for the RCBI Business Accelerator, Ten50, and has served on over a dozen nonprofit boards through the years, including current service on the board of Create Huntington and the board of advisers for the Marshall University Lewis College of Business Division of Marketing, MIS and Entrepreneurship.

For more information about CoWorks, visit online at CoWorksWV.com.

Family: wife, Brandie, along with two dogs, two cats and tank full of fish

Hobbies: Traveling, golf, fishing, camping, and attending Marshall sporting events

Favorite quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mohandas Gandhi

Favorite book: “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell

Favorite movie: “Red Dawn”



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