McDowell County took another important step last week toward imagining a new future for their community.
About 30 local leaders took part in the second community meeting of the Innovation Acceleration Strategy (IAS) process at the Welch Armory, and there was definitely the feeling that we are down to our core working groups for the economic diversification planning that is taking place. New people did join and new people are most certainly welcome still, but you could feel the dedication of those in the room, who came to get things done for their community.
Teams have formed around the following sectors so far: Arts and Culture, Local Food and Agriculture, Tourism, Technology and Transportation. All of these teams have met at least once, and most more than that!
As the process grows, the people of McDowell County have now expressed an interest in forming new teams around Education and Social Programs. So, if you live in McDowell County and want to get involved with any of these sector teams, please reach out to me and I will connect you to the right people.
One of the critical steps we took last week was to review other plans that had been created for McDowell County, in order to assess what resources we had to use as we move ahead. These included the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) document created by the Regional Planning and Development Council for McDowell, and others. We hope to have a great partnership with them as IAS unfolds, both here and in our other four communities.
As the sector teams start to identify and explore their ideas, big and small, we are helping them create performance agendas to track and measure their progress.
What’s great about The Hub is that we are able to point to real world examples of what other communities in West Virginia have done, and use that as the teachable model. In Welch, we were able to look at a performance agenda from a real project that is taking place right now in Whitesville, a Turn This Town Around community The Hub has been working with since Jan. 2015.
In order to work on the challenges of their community and take advantage of opportunities that exist, the sector teams in McDowell County will now create SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. They will then plan the activities that must happen to accomplish these goals, and both the “who” and “when” that come along with that.
So, we wish our sector teams in McDowell the best of luck, and offer all the support that we can.
But the IAS process is only as strong as the communities are dedicated. Fortunately, our McDowell teams seem very dedicated and ready to work!