BY KAYCIE STUSHEK, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT NETWORK COORDINATOR, THE HUB
Community leader Ray Moeller recently joined the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU as their Economic Redevelopment Specialist. A brownfield is a former industrial or commercial property where future use is affected by environmental contamination, and the Brownfields Assistance Centers support redeveloping these properties so they may be put to use again.
In his new role, Ray will be working with a number of partners (including the team at The Hub!) and across a variety of West Virginia communities, striving to facilitate rural downtown development. There is strong data supporting the redevelopment efforts that lead to increased energy around the traditional main street. Walkability, “Live where you play,” stability, vitality, connectedness, and economic health are the keys to downtown redevelopment.
Ray is a Michigan native, attended Western Michigan University, receiving degrees in both Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, then spent more than 28 years in Kalamazoo working in the pharmaceutical industry. So, as he says, “Of course, it only makes sense I am now serving as an Economic Redevelopment Specialist with the Northern Brownfield Assistance Center in West Virginia.”
His journey to arriving in West Virginia held several significant life changes, starting with an employment release due to down-sizing. What followed was the opportunity to do some travel, several remote Habitat builds, and time for associated soul searching, which led to a commitment to give back.
After considering the Peace Corps, Ray settled on serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA performing community development work in West Virginia. Ray and his wife Connie have loved the opportunity to explore West Virginia through camping, hiking, and biking. After completing three years of VISTA service, he transitioned into a four year stint as a Community & Economic Development Extension Agent with West Virginia State University.
Ray and Connie lived in Summersville throughout this time and Ray primarily served Nicholas County and the New River Gorge Region. Much of his efforts included facilitation of community organizations, coordination of projects, and promotion of public improvement programs (a favorite project, Helios Park in Richwood, is pictured below). Ray led The Hub’s Richwood Blueprint and HubCAP III teams.
Ray’s recent employment change affords him the opportunity to expand upon his previous experience and challenge himself professionally. He says, “Life provides no guarantees or assurances, other than the opportunity of doing better today because of what you experienced yesterday.”
Life has routinely pulled Ray out of his comfort zone, and he remains eager to bring his best.
Ray would like to encourage everyone to attend the upcoming 2018 WV Brownfields Conference, September 5-7, in Charleston, WV. This year’s theme is Embracing the Challenge, which speaks to the work we do, and the lives we live. Come learn, meet, grow, and absorb the energy that can change your community. See you there!