Six Blueprint Communities Awarded Mini-Grants for Revitalization Projects

Meadow River Valley will construct a picnic shelter made from refurbished barn wood similar to this shelter in White Sulphur Springs (Photo via Meadow River Valley Association).

BY KAYCIE STUSHEK, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS SPECIALIST, THE HUB


Six Blueprint Communities are celebrating a big win as they begin work on recently-awarded mini-grant projects! The Blueprint Communities program was created by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh (FHLBank) to support the development of local leadership, collaboration across sectors, and strategic planning to make a lasting impact on the economic well-being and quality of life for residents. The Hub is currently coaching six Blueprint Communities teams: Kingwood (Preston County), Lewis County, the Meadow River Valley Region of Greenbrier Valley, the Monticello neighborhood of Clarksburg, New Martinsville (Wetzel County), and Parsons (Tucker County).


Blueprint Communities teams create plans and learn skills that enable them to make real movement toward successfully completing large-scale community projects with significant impact. To practice these skills, the six current participants were awarded $5,000 mini-grants to implement projects that will revitalize their communities and provide opportunities to build a shared vision of improvement with local residents. 

Congratulations, Blueprint teams! Learn more about each project below:


Kingwood (Preston County)

Kingwood will revitalize an empty downtown corner lot into a pocket park, which will include a place to gather and host activities, seating, landscaping, picnic tables, and bike racks. Part of the grant will also fund a mural and other arts-based work and infrastructure connecting the rail trail to the downtown area. On August 7th, the Price Street Party will be the first event hosted at the new pocket park. Find more info here


Lewis County

The Lewis County team plans to refurbish four gateway signs across the County. This project will help with make the entryways to the communities more welcoming and will beautify the corridors to Lewis County communities.

 

Meadow River Valley Region of Greenbrier Valley

The community team is using their mini-grant to develop the Meadow River Community Park; this development includes beautification, landscaping, and amenity upgrades and updates. This effort complements existing efforts to improve the walking trail, playground, and park shelter, and to increase river access.

 

Monticello neighborhood of Clarksburg

The Monticello team is using their funds for the beautification and further development of the Margaret McCoy Community Garden, which is a central asset to the community, offering a place to gather and enjoy the flower and vegetable gardens. Funds will also be used to landscape the Kelly Miller Community Center area, making it a welcoming entryway for the many people who use this community resource. 

 

New Martinsville (Wetzel County)

New Martinsville’s team will use their funding to continue their ongoing Route 2 beautification projects. These projects will be implemented at Bruce Park, where the team is creating multiple art installations and painting 27 murals on the side of an above ground pool, which will serve as a central focal point for the community.

 

Parsons (Tucker County)

A full revitalization of a pocket park in downtown Parsons is underway. This revitalization includes improved landscaping, seating, places to gather, and a gazebo, making this project a community asset for years to come. The team also hopes this project will bring visitors downtown and boost business for locally-owned shops surrounding the park.

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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