2021 WV POWER Summit: Launching a POWER Project

Launching a POWER Project: Strategies to Kickstart Success

How do you make your federally-funded project successful? Learn from current and recent-past West Virginia POWER grantees about key strategies for a successful launch; common challenges that happen at the start of a project and how to overcome them; tips for building strong partnerships and community advocates; and guidance on what they wish they had known at the very beginning to help set their projects on the path to success.

meet the presenters

Ralph Goolsby is retired from the West Virginia Development Office, where he served for over 37 years in various capacities including community development manager. In that capacity Ralph was responsible for the development and implementation of several key community development programs including the Local Economic Development Grant Program, Neighborhood Investment Tax Credit Program, and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Program, where he served as the Governor’s representative to the ARC. Currently Ralph is an Independent Contractor providing non- profit organizations and regional planning agencies with a variety of community and economic development services and disciplines in the areas of grants development; strategic thinking, planning, project implementation; team building and group facilitation services. Ralph is a volunteer with the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle where he serves on the community review team which is responsible for evaluating projects for funding consideration. Additionally, Ralph is a volunteer and a member of the board of directors of the church he attends.

Jacob Israel Hannah from Kelly Knob, West Virginia is Coalfield Development’s Conservation Coordinator. Jacob graduated as a first generation student in Business Management from Garrett College and holds a Bachelor degree in Management for Sustainability from Bucknell University. Jacob also studied cultural sustainability in France and Scotland, and spent 3 years testing triple-bottom line sustainability concepts for coal towns in central Pennsylvania, and social sustainability programs in Western Maryland. He enjoys spending his time writing music on his guitar and piano, getting lost in the woods, spending time with his family, and harvesting fresh dank memes from the internet.

ARC POWER Project: Appalachia FORWARD

Steve Jones is a professor and project manager with 30 years of experience working with organizations. He has developed and managed projects that focus on learning, performance improvement, performance measurement, and teams. His PhD is in Organizational Psychology. In addition to teaching, he serves as a volunteer project manager for the Monongahela Outdoor Volunteers. This group maintains hiking and mountain biking trails in the Gauley Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. When not working, he can be found somewhere in the mountains climbing, skiing or mountain biking.

ARC POWER Project: Creating a Sustainable Volunteer Trail Maintenance Program

Jeffrey Lusk is currently the Executive Director of the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, the multi-county economic development agency charged with managing the over 900-mile Hatfield McCoy Trail System in Southern West Virginia. Jeff’s formal education includes a master’s degree in Public Administration from Marshall University and undergraduate degrees from Penn State University and West Virginia University Institute of Technology. Jeff currently serves as the Governors appointed Chairman for the West Virginia Tourism Advisory Council and serves on the Investment Committee and as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for Partner Community Capital, a United States Department of Treasury Community Development Financing Institution (CDFI). Jeff has worked as an economic development and business financing professional for over 25 years. Jeff is a Certified Economic Developer, Certified Community Developer and has obtained the designation of Economic Development Financing Professional.

Ray Moeller has a Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University and worked for 28 years in the pharmaceutical industry before escaping to West Virginia a decade ago. Starting as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the New River Gorge Region, Ray facilitated community improvement in preparation for the opening of the National Boy Scout Jamboree site. He then transitioned to a WV State University Community and Economic Development Extension position working in communities within the same region. Then three years ago, Ray took the leap north, landing in Morgantown to work in the Brownfield Assistance Center at WVU, and primarily providing on-the-ground support for the statewide Downtown Appalachia Redevelopment Initiative.

ARC POWER Project: Downtown Appalachia Redevelopment Initiative

Project Resources: 

Ashley Shaw is director of Marshall Health’s CORE Program, which provides resources and support to help individuals in recovery re-enter the workforce. She oversees a 12-county regional infrastructure including employment specialists who offer training and job placement. Ashley has more than a decade of experience in workforce development and community collaboration. She has a B.A. in English with a concentration in secondary education, an M.S. in sociology/criminal justice, and an M.B.A. with a concentration in human resources.

ARC POWER Project: Creating Opportunities for Recovery Employment (CORE)

Project Resources:

  • Drug-Responsible Workplace Toolkit: A six-module course is designed to help employers refine its business approach to preventing and responding to employees’ misuse of harmful substances, and supporting employees working to maintain lifelong recovery

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.

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