During our most recent visit to Welch on April 21, we saw first-hand that McDowell County residents are ready to get to work diversifying their economy.
The community meeting on April 21 was buzzing, with more than 60 people filling the space at Welch First United Methodist Church. There were parents, kids, reporters and, above all else, interested and engaged folks from the area.
The meeting was high energy, the discussion was fantastic and we were excited to see teams form and get to work during the meeting.
It was apparent from the start that the citizens of McDowell are interested in lifting up their community and building on the great resources they already have.
The meeting was the kick-off for the Hub’s new planning program: the Innovation Acceleration Strategy, or IAS. As the IAS program coordinator, I’ll be working with five southern West Virginia communities that are interested in creatively and aggressively identifying economic sectors that have the capacity to grow their local economy.
We need towns with citizens, like McDowell, who are ready to lead and have the ability and time to engage in a year-long planning process for growing and diversifying their local economy.
We can’t stress enough here at The Hub that success is up to the community itself!
We aren’t here to do the work for you or make the decisions about what your community can do. We are here to help communities identify great ideas and create the capacity needed to make them a reality.
So, successful community development depends on a broad range of engaged citizens who are stepping up to the plate to get work done.
To be a successful IAS community, it is all about showing up to the process to participate, and engaging your neighbors, friends and local colleagues to get involved as well.
So, in McDowell, we went through a series of exercises to determine what the potential growth areas in the community are and who in the room was interested in helping to make them grow.
The community identified four economic development teams who are all meeting soon to start their planning process. These teams are Local Agriculture and Food, Arts and Culture, Tourism, and Technology. Other potential economic development teams that were identified include Health and Wellness, Social Programs and Transportation.
If you are reading this, live in McDowell and haven’t gotten involved yet, please reach out and we can put you in touch with the community teams!
We are excited to come back to McDowell on June 23 for our second community-wide IAS meeting to see how the work is progressing!
Stay tuned for details and to see which communities are next to get engaged in this process to make their community all that they want it to be.