20 New Projects are Underway in Montgomery & Smithers

Congratulations to the communities of Montgomery and Smithers on their awards of 20 mini-grants in The Hub’s Cultivate WV program! These projects will serve diverse needs of residents of Montgomery and Smithers–providing signage, beautification projects, murals, food pantries, benches, community spaces, events, a community garden, and much more.

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is funding $40,000 in mini-grants to invest in the projects implemented by groups of at least three volunteers on the Cultivate WV Montgomery-Smithers team to make visible, measurable improvements to the communities. While completing the projects, participants will attend workshops with The Hub to help make the most of their new community assets. Support for Cultivate WV is also provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

The two communities are working together to make positive change to the Upper Kanawha Valley within a unique model–the Strategic Initiatives Council, led by Mayor Anne Cavalier of Smithers and Mayor Greg Ingram of Montgomery. You can learn more about the Strategic Initiatives Council here. These projects will help strengthen the bond between the two communities, improve the quality of life of residents, and attract more visitors to the area. We can’t wait to see the projects in action!

The following projects will be implemented within a six month timeline:

Courtyard Beautification

The Courtyard Beautification project will provide the residents of the Montgomery General Elderly Care Center access to a beautiful outdoor space to visit with family members and to enjoy the beauty of nature. The project team will remove and replace the overgrown shrubs, provide the necessary maintenance for the trees in the outdoor space, repair and/or replace garden planters, plant perennial and annuals, clean the already existing pond, and purchase fish for the pond area. 

Montgomery Free Supply Pantry

The Montgomery Free Supply Pantry project will provide six pantries containing food and personal items throughout the area. Members of the community will be invited to donate canned food items and personal hygiene items to be placed in the pantries to be accessed by those who may be in need. 

BridgeValley Youth Outreach Program

The Youth Outreach Program is a project to support youth programs in the area. The programs include an art camp, STEAM camp, after school program, robotics camp, and robotics teams for fourth to eighth grade students in the Upper Kanawha Valley. The project team will utilize the makerspace at BridgeValley called the GRID and will have access to two large rooms to accommodate the youth activities as well as several other rooms in the space that could include activities such as pottery, sewing, and woodworking. 

Montgomery General Extended Care – Developing an Outdoor Space 

An outdoor space will provide 35 to 44 patients and their families a positive, serene, outdoor environment for visitation and socialization. The outdoor space will also be used for outdoor activities with the residents such as planting and taking care of small box planters that will be filled with flowers and vegetables. 

Public Art Mural 

The Montgomery Art Group and local youth will create a large mural that depicts interesting aspects of the town of Montgomery. It will be a landmark and welcome sign to the town that will be impactful, colorful, and visible to residents and visitors. 

First Friday Farmers Market 

The project team is starting a farmers market in Smithers to provide local, organic, and/or home-produced products to the residents of the Smithers/Montgomery area. As part of the monthly market, free educational and well-being activities will be offered. 

The Queen of Barks

Queen of Barks is a locally owned and operated small business working to bring pet care closer to home for the Smithers/Montgomery area. The project team is working to renovate the building where the services will be offered. The team plans to host a puppy-friendly meet and greet in the area as well as a regular puppy playgroup in one of the area’s parks. 

Smithers Welcome Sign 

The Smither Welcome Sign team will refurbish five older existing “Welcome to Smithers” signs by painting them and adding the metal city logo. The metal logo will be produced locally and volunteers will paint the signs. The team will also use this project as an opportunity to maintain and add new plants around the base of the signposts. 

Park at 5th and Lee Improvements 

The project team will paint the gazebo, install two lights to match the new street lights and set new plaques at the park. The team’s goal is to make the park more attractive and functional for small events such as the Gold Star Mothers event. 

River Cities Urban Trail 

The River Cities Urban Trail will be a designated safe sidewalk trail of approximately 1 to 2 miles within the City of Smithers. Sign posts and sidewalk stenciling will show distance markers so walkers know how far they have walked. A trail logo will also be designed. The project team will host a community-wide kick off event where residents and visitors will be invited to explore the walkway for the first time. The creation of formal or informal walking groups will be encouraged to get people to use the trail. 

Plein Air Art Fair Streetscape 

Local volunteers will work together to beautify and promote the City’s “Plein Air Art” Fair by preparing an artwalk and streetscape. The new decor will also act as an alert for drivers passing by to slow down and exercise extra caution around the pedestrians attending. The project will include three aspects: 1) a banner hanging over the street access to the off street fair; 2) two parking spots on the street marked off on fair nights as ‘art spots’ with small wooden benches, potted plants, and promotional banners; and 3) a colorful mural on the street surface. 

Envision Summit: Opening the Gateway

The project team will host a community workshop with Ed McMahon as their guest. Mr. McMahon will work with local community leaders, business owners and other residents to complete an area economic development feasibility study. He will share his ideas and lead a discussion for invited local leaders from public, private and potential sectors representing interest in the joint River Cities of Smithers and Montgomery. The goal of this project is to educate and motivate area residents and businesses to create and maintain a Gateway Community. 

Smithers Gateway Center Chair Yoga 

The team will establish a chair yoga class for the community and surrounding areas. A certified chair yoga instructor has volunteered to teach the class in collaboration. The instructor in collaboration with Active Southern West Virginia will become a certified community captain. The goal is to improve the health and mobility of the people participating in the classes.

City of Smithers Beautification 

The team will install benches and planters at the Magic Carpet location. There is currently no seating in this area and is a need in the community. The benches will provide a place for community members to sit and enjoy the area. 

Rt 60 Signage (Midtown, Westbound, & Eastbound)

Signage reflecting historic Midland Trail will be designed and installed along Rt 60 to direct vehicles to participating businesses and institutions in both Smithers and Montgomery. 

Park Improvement 

The project is to improve and update the small ark owned by the city of Montgomery located on Morris Drive. The team will work together to make repairs to the basketball court and existing swing set as well as add some picnic tables and waste containers for park visitors to utilize. 

Main Street Planters

This project is focused on beautifying the main street of town by providing color and definition. The team will purchase, install and plant flowers in new planters on 3rd Street in Montgomery. 

Smithers Community Garden 

The project team will establish a community garden located at the Gateway Community Center. Along with the garden, the WVU Health Educator for the county will offer nutrition and gardening classes to people of all ages. The team will be seeking additional funding as a part of this project to build a high tunnel. 

Beautify Montgomery with Flowers

The project team will plant flowers around town to beautify the city of Montgomery. The various areas around town include: the gazebo at the entrance of the city, the library, city hall, the bank, and several other prominent buildings. The project team is committed to tending to the flowers during the growing season. 

Appalachian Music Festival 

The Appalachian Music Festival is a planned four-day event (scheduled for August 25-29) that will provide music lessons, workshops and exhibitors during the day. On Friday and Saturday evening, local and regional musicians will provide concerts that will be open to the public. The festival will end with a gospel singing session on Sunday morning. The team is focused on 1) offering opportunities for lifelong learning and meaningful engagement with the arts; 2) perpetuating an appreciation for the history of Appalachian music; 3) showcasing and promoting regional talent; and 4) promoting young Appalachian performers. 

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

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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