The Barnes Agency, a marketing and public relations firm, is opening a design studio at the new Marshall University Visual Arts Center in downtown Huntington. The agency will join the center’s first tenant, MacKenzie-Dow Fine Furniture, on the first floor of the Visual Arts Center.

The agency’s offices are located on 10th Street, just around the corner from the former Stone & Thomas department store that Marshall has redeveloped as a downtown center for its visual arts programs.

Jeff Barnes, president and CEO of the agency that’s named for him, said the firm’s new studio will be geared to graphic design and digital media and will offer two paid internships to Marshall design students. “We are very excited to provide students at Marshall the opportunity to learn the advertising industry in a real agency environment,” he said.

Donald Van Horn, dean of the College of Arts and Media, noted that from the earliest stages of planning for the new Visual Arts Center a decision was made to include rental space “to help pay for the operating costs of the building.”

A third commercial space in the center is yet to be rented, Van Horn said.

“The presence of the Barnes Agency on the public first-floor of the Visual Arts Center, paired with the long-term commitment to offer paid internships, creates the opportunity for real-time feedback regarding the relevance of our curriculum and mission to prepare students for meaningful adult lives,” said Sandra Reed, director of Marshall’s School of Arts and Design.

A reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Barnes Agency studio is scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 13.

Jeff Barnes grew up in Charleston but moved to Huntington in 1996 to become vice president of marketing at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Later, he played a similar role with Genesis Hospital System, the short-lived affiliation of St. Mary’s, Cabell Huntington and Pleasant Valley hospitals.

In 2003, he established his own ad agency in Hurricane. In 2013, he opened the firm’s Huntington office, figuring that the Putnam County location would make it convenient to serve clients in both Charleston and Huntington.

The agency’s client list includes Marshall University and MU athletics, the Big Sandy Superstore Arena and the First State Bank of Barboursville.

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