New Martinsville continues to build their picture of success

A message from the Blueprint Communities Team of New Martinsville:

Remember those connect the dot games? It was amazing to watch your creation appear as you connected those dots in the correct numerical order. Was it a butterfly? A spider? Or maybe an octopus? You could normally see what it was going to be as you made progress in the connections. The thing about connect the dots? If you don’t follow the pattern, the plan, you just get some lines, nothing you can recognize. And when you do follow the pattern, the plan, you turn nothing into something quite remarkable.

And that is what being a Blueprint Community is doing for New Martinsville. The first connections were the team itself. Drawing from various disciplines in our community, the team that would gain the skills to build this picture includes: an executive director, a small business liaison from our regional economic development partner, a bank manager, a realtor, who is also a banker and a veteran, an entrepreneur who founded his business almost 39 years ago, and the president of our non-profit fiduciary, who also happens to be a community activist.  

Add to that mix the extraordinary support from Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh (FHLBank), who runs and sponsors this program, and coaching from the WV Community Development Hub. This support involves coaching, training, and connecting to so many resources and partners for building communities, and our team was eager to learn. 

The first thing we learned was how to get input from our community, and to pull from them the vision for New Martinsville’s future, and the pieces of a plan for how to get there. Our citizens drive our priorities, and for our small town, it was loud and clear. Not just one priority, but three. A drive through town on Route 2 showcases the small-town charm that is the heart of New Martinsville. There are some dilapidated and under-utilized properties in our community.  And as with most towns, we have our fair share of small, independent businesses. Our priorities were set: beautification on Route 2, a building improvement program, and business support and expansion.

Our coach and FHLBank shared one opportunity after another. Two of our team members attended the Northern Brownfields Conference, which led to additional training on how to address our abandoned or dilapidated buildings. And that led to several volunteers willing to help assess and inventory our properties, dilapidated buildings, and open spaces. The city building inspector endorsed all this activity. This effort will grow into building improvement support, and the showcasing of buildings ready for small business investment and development.  The dots were beginning to connect.

Our team took advantage of every webinar, partnership, grant application, and conference possible, which led to yet another opportunity – a foundation grant for a beautification project:  an outdoor art installation at Bruce Park, which is situated directly on Route 2 in the heart of our city. That project is currently finishing Phase 1, with Phase 2 scheduled for completion in late Spring 2021. This is a collaborative effort of the Parks & Recreation Department, the Wetzel County School System, our local arts council, ArtsLink, and the Blueprint Community team.  Another opportunity we went after was the WVU Fulcrum Project, in which we received design help with renovating our community welcome signs and engaged with the Graphic Design Students at WVU-Davis College for way-signage on Route 2 and in our community. More connections, more progress.

Our entrepreneur and our small business liaison, in collaboration with the local Chamber of Commerce, formed a small business focus group. Next up for them is a shared marketing plan as connections continue to be made.

And as those were happening, another amazing opportunity arose: an architectural design award from The Mills Group for a planned community center to be completed six or seven years in the future. Once again, this will be a collaborative effort with the City of New Martinsville and the Parks & Recreation Department, as we help connect the dots to the resources available.

And in all of this, we have used the community’s direction and the knowledge gained through the Blueprint Communities Program to create a strategic plan that covers the next few years, and a marketing booklet to showcase our town and its opportunities for all to live, work, and play. Follow this journey on Facebook here and join in as we continue to connect the dots. The picture of our future is so much clearer now!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on google
Google+
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

More to explore

Congrats Northern Brownfields Assistance Center on a new round of Opportunity Appalachia!

Congratulations to the Northern Brownfields Assistance Center on being the new lead state partner for Opportunity Appalachia, , an ARC POWER-funded program that will provide targeted support for downtown and rural development projects, building entrepreneurial communities where local business can thrive, creating quality jobs for residents, helping to address the Covid downturn, and revitalizing local economies.

Celebrating and Closing out 2021 at The Hub, A Message from Stephanie Tyree

As the year comes to a close, we are proud of the work we have done at the WV Community Development Hub with you: our partners, community leaders, and friends. While this year has presented challenges to us all, our work to support the growth of rural communities in West Virginia has given us hope, heart, and a true sustained belief in the transformational impact that each person can have in making positive change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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