The people of Alderson have a lot of pride and belief in their community, which has been a terrific starting point for our Innovation Acceleration Strategy (IAS) work there.
But those leading the IAS effort in Alderson also understand they have work to do to fill up the businesses on their main street. Both of the IAS mini-grants we awarded them hope to bring new life into downtown.
When we started conducting IAS meetings in Alderson, we began hearing about Jim Russel’s idea to create a vintage-themed downtown.
Jim envisions a town with vintage murals on buildings, period lighting along the street and a restaurant housed in a train car. His team has challenged him on the feasibility of this, which leads us to their mini-grant.
We have awarded Alderson $2,000 to conduct a market feasibility study. They believe they can use this study to sell the idea of opening a new business downtown to potential entrepreneurs. The team hopes this can be the first step to attracting more people to live and play in Alderson.
Fawn Valentine understands the importance of aesthetics. She has a B.A. in Art, works on the planning commission for Alderson and is the leader of the IAS Community Beautification team.
This may seem a little off-base for an economic diversification program. But creating a more attractive downtown is almost always an important piece of the broader economic development process.
Valentine’s team has been awarded $525 to paint the former Ashland station. This station is the first thing anyone sees when they enter Alderson.
As a part of this plan, they are going to paint a mural on one of the windows, featuring the river. They hope this will create a visual emphasis on the flora and fauna of Greenbrier River that flows through their town.
Learn more about what our other IAS communities are doing to diversify their local economies
at The Hub blog.