Welcoming Montgomery and Smithers to Cultivate West Virginia

View of Montgomery, WV. Image courtesy City of Montgomery.

BY AMANDA WORKMAN-SCOTT, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, THE HUB

We are excited to announce the towns of Montgomery and Smithers will be participating in The Hub’s Cultivate West Virginia program! We extend our gratitude to The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation for underwriting this initiative to make positive change in communities as defined and led by the residents themselves.

Cultivate WV builds a community’s ability to:

  • Engage and mobilize residents to collaborate on community improvement projects and create long-lasting, positive impact;
  • Promote community projects and events;
  • Develop a town’s infrastructure such as downtown buildings;
  • Grow and support local entrepreneurs and small businesses; and
  • Secure funding for small and large-scale community improvement projects.

 

Community coaches with The Hub’s team work alongside residents in a process that centers the community’s voice in identifying challenges and moving forward solutions. The Hub believes that the residents of the community are the experts on what is needed for their town. It’s our job to offer the support, make connections, and give guidance needed for residents to realize their dreams for their community.

Mayor Anne Cavalier of Smithers, WV and Mayor Greg Ingram of Montgomery, WV share the stage

The Hub coaches have been working with the Strategic Initiative Council, a representation of both Montgomery and Smithers, to learn more about the community. The Strategic Initiative Council is a group of folks focused on making positive change in their community by sharing ideas, collaborating on cross-community programs, and even sharing funds and resources to advance goals that are mutually beneficial to their towns.

We learned early on that they view themselves as ‘two municipalities, one community’ – and are excited to learn from what they have been able to accomplish through this mindset and share this model with other communities around the state.

People often ask how we’re approaching our community coaching work at The Hub in this time. We typically spend much of our time in communities, working face to face with residents, and the events of this year have made that more challenging. We’re approaching this challenge just like any other hurdle we may face when it comes to community development: we bring our own dedication to and investment in the success of the residents to the table, our own expertise, but, ultimately, let the community lead the way.  

That means the way that we approach our work is going to look different this year in Montgomery and Smithers, but the outcome is going to be the same: teams of residents coming together to advance ideas and projects that will create greater prosperity and opportunity for everyone in their community – and, of course, having fun along the way!

We are honored to be working with the residents of Montgomery and Smithers.

Stay tuned to The Hub’s blog for progress the community teams are making! And if you are living in Montgomery or Smithers and are interested in taking part give me a shout – Amanda Worman-Scott at a.workman@wvhub.org.

Amanda Workman-Scott is The Hub’s Director of Community Engagement. Find Amanda at a.workman@wvhub.org.

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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: a statewide land bank 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.

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.

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.

Parsons

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

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.

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.

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.

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