BY STEPHANIE TYREE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE HUB
The Hub board and staff made three strategic commitments for the organization last year:
- We will cultivate a leadership pipeline across West Virginia to drive long-term community development success in small, rural communities throughout the state. This pipeline will be made up of community volunteers and leaders, trained coaches and technical assistance staff who work together to build plans and execute projects that are created and led by the communities themselves.
- We will grow our organization so that we can commit to providing annual in-depth coaching and support services to 12-20 communities each year, and back that coaching up with critical community project funding.
- We will promote the unique community development leadership approaches we see happening every day in West Virginia on a regional and national stage, positioning our state as an innovative model for rural development.
We knew that to do this, we had to get creative and think bigger than we ever had before.
It would mean deepening our current work with communities and partners, growing new partnerships, and pursuing out-of-the-box opportunities to grow the resources, leadership and impact of community development efforts across the state.
This week, one of those out-of-the-box opportunities was realized. We are one of eight West Virginian teams who received POWER funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
The ARC granted $1 million in funding to The Hub to invest in Mountain State Capital (MSC), a venture capital fund that will serve Central Appalachia. The full $1 million grant will be directly invested into the fund, and will be matched with $3 million of privately raised funds from MSC.
As a result of this partnership, $4 million in funds will be targeted to high-growth businesses in West Virginia in sectors like healthcare and technology.
If investments are successful, The Hub will dedicate our returns into a permanent mini-grant fund for West Virginia community development projects to do things like build new public spaces, beautify downtowns, start innovative tourism strategies, and other ideas that West Virginians living in small, rural communities will dream up to help their towns. We anticipate that this fund will provide up to $150,000 per year for these community-led projects.
We deeply believe that these projects are the bedrock of long-term community and economic development in West Virginia. These projects lead to sustained community transformation when consistent support is available. Through this fund, we will create a permanent resource for the small, rural communities we work with to tackle the innovative, creative, volunteer-led projects that they know will have a catalytic impact on their towns.
We understand the critical value of entrepreneurial resources and support for community and economic development in West Virginia. The leadership and services in place throughout the state that are working directly with entrepreneurs and small businesses are phenomenal, and serve as one of the key resource networks we lean on for our work.
We hope through this partnership to add a new resource for the entrepreneurial sector in the short-term through venture capital support for individual high-growth businesses.
Successful development of the sustained mini-grant fund is a long-term outcome (we are looking at a 5-10 year timeline.) We are committed to continuing our fundraising efforts to provide mini-grants to communities participating in Hub programs – both while we wait for this initial investment to yield results, and beyond.
As The Hub celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, we are looking toward our future, and weighing how we can build upon the success we’ve seen in West Virginia communities.
We hope this grant and this unique partnership will lead to a new, permanent resource for community-based projects. We are passionately invested in the success and well-being of West Virginian communities. We know that West Virginian residents are our state’s greatest asset, and the solutions that they dream up are transforming our state. It is our goal to continue catalyzing that and supporting it in every way we can.