Richwood is booming! 16 small businesses lead the charge

BY STACY RAFFO, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER + MEMBER OF #RICHWOODRISING COMMUNITY GROUP

A Friendly Note from The Hub Team: Are you a supporter of The Hub’s work? In 2019, we’re celebrating our 10th birthday! Please consider a donation of $10 to help us continue serving West Virginia communities for the next 10 years and beyond. Click here to go to our Birthday Donation Page.

With new businesses seemingly popping up every day, it is a very exciting time in Richwood, a community that has known struggles for years. The #richwoodrising team has been collaborating with each other, and building a foundation for possibilities and success by working hard through various programs including the HubCAP program, hosted by the WV Community Development Hub (The Hub), and Blueprint Communities, an initiative with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, and implemented by The Hub. 

Richwood Scientific, The Oakford Diner, Hole in the Wall Pizza, Rosewood Antiques, Whistle Punk Grill & Taphouse, Cherry River Roasting, The Chill Out Grill, Darryl’s Barber Shop, Country Hardware, Richwood Heritage Arts, and The Nutt House are all businesses located in Richwood that have opened within the past three years, breathing new life into this one-stoplight town.  Seeing their success, and opportunities with a technology presence, a bike trail expansion, and increased motorcycle tourism, more new businesses are on the way.

An outfitter, coffee shop, another antique store (you can never have too many!), an upscale AirBnB and internet provider will all be opening in Richwood within the next few months, most on Main Street.  Back Mountain Adventures is at the edge of the Monongahela National Forest, catering to outdoor enthusiasts, they will offer bike and kayak rentals, shuttle service, fishing, and outdoor gear. Opening in the Spring of 2020, a welcome addition with the increased mountain biking trails and ever-increasing fisherman visiting the area. Lisa, a teacher, and her husband Dave King, a coal miner, are looking forward to providing visitors the services and gear they need for a great adventure.  

Susan Johnson has looked for a way to get involved in Richwood’s redevelopment for years; she has now found it with Lucy Butterfly. Offering antiques, rare books, vintage clothing, gifts, wine, and curated items, Lucy Butterfly will offer something for everyone. Located at 2 West Main Street,  at the red light, a lovely welcome as people come into town. 

Appalachian Coffee has built brand recognition around southern WV, with locations in Mt. Nebo, Princeton, and Summersville; Richwood’s Main Street will be the newest location.  John Bounds purchased and is renovating a building for the new coffee house at 4 East Main Street; the site will also house Cherry River Roasting allowing visitors to buy freshly roasted beans. 

Miami couple, David Ward and Cecil Ybanez are adding another lodging option to Main Street, with David’s Richwood roots, he is excited about this new venture. Their second story, three bedroom, upscale AirBNB will open in the Spring of 2020; offering unique lodging in the heart of Richwood’s historic district, Cecil will bring his interior design background to the project.  

Reliable internet service is a struggle throughout the Mountain State, a non-profit, Richwood Scientific, has been working to address better broadband and wifi connectivity, this led to the creation of Silicon Holler Light + Data. Utilizing a tower on the four-story GC Murphy Building, the organization will be able to provide fast, reliable wireless internet to any business or house that can see the tower.  Plans for expanding access to other areas in and around Richwood are also being explored.  

For more information, contact Stacy Raffo at stacyraffo@gmail.com.  

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Parsons

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Message from our Executive Leadership Team

Fifteen years ago, stakeholders building up local communities and economies in West Virginia convened to map a coordinated strategy to systemically grow community economic development activity in the state. From the shared vision and collaborative leadership of dozens of strategic partners across the state, the WV Community Development Hub was born.

Since that time, The Hub has grown into the anchor community development organization serving West Virginia. We have built upon the original vision to create a method for rural, community-led development strategies that is uniquely tailored to the needs and opportunities of our state.

As we have grown and developed a proven model for success, our partnerships with community and economic development practitioners, funders, and committed West Virginia residents have been foundational to every element of our work.

Over the past two years, the team at The Hub has adapted to the unprecedented challenges our communities have faced during the pandemic by leaning into our core strengths to deepen our impact. The Hub remains committed to tackling persistent challenges, and we have focused our attention on the most impactful elements of our work.

We are supporting community leaders to advance their visions for local development, creating new pathways for engagement and leadership growth through our virtual training platform, and leading strategies that lift up voices of community leaders to move forward solutions to long-held challenges to growth.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that nothing about the future is set in stone. While the coming year may present enormous opportunities for advancement in our state, they will also inevitably require significant capacity building, shared strategies that are grounded in trust-based partnerships, and extended efforts to support the leadership development of individuals and organizations who have been asked to do more during a time of extreme stress and strain.

The services that anchor organizations like The Hub provide are even more critical in this time, and we expect our work to scale significantly in the coming years ahead.

We look forward to continuing to do the work of putting into action the vision and the shared strategies envisioned by that core group of community economic development practitioners and funders fifteen years ago.

In Continued Accompaniment,

– WV Community Development Hub
Executive Leadership Team

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director

Amanda Workman Scott

Director of Community Engagement

Emma Pepper

Director of Strategic Network Communications

Katie Loudin

Director of Strategic Development

Montgomery

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Smithers

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Kingwood

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Lewis County

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Meadow River Valley Region

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Monticello Neighborhood of Clarksburg

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Watch their community documentary.

New Martinsville

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Systemic Change

2021 became a time period of catalytic potential as we saw years of investment into our core strategies to enact systemic change yield new results. Our strategic focus areas include policy, communications, and supporting the community economic development system in leveraging unique financing opportunities such as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and Opportunity Zones.

In addition, through our strategic policy support role within the Abandoned Properties Coalition, The Hub successfully advanced two key objectives: the creation of a statewide land bank at the West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation and extension of the state’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. 

Through the Opportunity Appalachia program, 6 catalytic community projects located in WV-based Opportunity Zones received $250,000 for pre-development technical assistance. Three projects received additional private funding as a result of program participation.

Community Coaching

In 2021, we accompanied 16 communities through our in-depth, professional coaching programs. In addition to leaning into coaching and financing opportunities offered through these programs, participating communities leveraged an additional $2.8 million in funding on their own for community economic development projects. While participating in our entry-level coaching program, Cultivate WV, Montgomery and Smithers realized momentum-building success through access to $40,000 in seed funding for projects like farmers markets, public art, wayfinding, community events, and development of a trail system.

Six communities, Lewis County, Kingwood, Meadow River Valley, Monticello neighborhood in Clarksburg, New Martinsville and Parsons, graduated the intermediate planning program Blueprint Communities* with strategic plans in place. We also launched a new round of HubCAP, our flagship community economic development program, in six towns located in the Monongahela National Forest region: Cowen, Franklin, White Sulphur Springs, Elkins, Marlinton, and Petersburg.

Elkins

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. 

A core team led by Woodlands Development Group also participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Franklin

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Marlinton

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Petersburg

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

White Sulphur Springs

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Charleston

A core team led by Crawford Holdings, LLC participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Huntington

Core teams led by Thundercloud, Inc. and the City of Huntington participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support community development projects located in Opportunity Zones.

Grafton

A core team led by Unleash Tygart, Inc participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Leadership Development

As hundreds of people began to engage in our virtual training activities in 2020, we saw a critical opportunity to scale and deepen our impact. This year, The Hub team developed an accessible, virtual platform with options for self-guided and group learning activities as well as professional coaching.

Kickstart Communities is now the crux of our efforts to bring new people into the work and grow their leadership. These activities now form the foundational stages of a Community Leadership Development Pipeline to move motivated residents from seeing the challenges in their communities to proactively collaborating to resolve them.

Cowen

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. Read their community case study.