Welcoming the First Appalachia Investment Framer Cohort

Invest Appalachia and LOCUS Impact Investing – as part of the Appalachian Investment Ecosystem Initiative – are partnering with the West Virginia Community Development Hub to host the first Appalachia Investment Framer Action Cohort. In fall and winter 2021, fourteen participants are increasing their knowledge and connections to activate investment-worthy projects related to small business, social enterprise, community facilities, and downtown real estate development. Participants are building the skills necessary to expand community investment in the Central Appalachian region and improve economic resilience in the communities where they work.  

The first cohort includes: 

  • Peni Adams, WV Hive Network (Beckley, WV)
  • Joanie Beaver, Middlesboro Main Street (Middlesboro, KY)
  • Garrett Blaize, Appalachian Community Fund (Dickenson, VA)
  • Ruthie Caldwell, Vision Granted LLC (Pikeville, KY)
  • Atlas Charles, Rural Support Partners and The Central Appalachian Network (Kingsport, TN)
  • Leah Glover, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (Charleston, WV)
  • Jennifer Hudson, Williamson Health & Wellness Center, Inc. (Williamson, WV)
  • Lauren Kemp, RenewAll, Inc. (Huntington, WV)
  • Scott Kreps, Tecumseh Theater & Trail Town Network (Shawnee, OH)
  • Kayleigh Kyle, Fairmont Community Development Partnership, Inc. (Fairmont, WV)
  • Raymond Moeller, WV Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU (Morgantown, WV)
  • Noah Noble, City of Booneville (Booneville, KY)
  • Kim Ross, Mount Terra, LLC (Bluefield, WV)
  • Cindy Whetsell, Lewis County Economic Development Authority (Weston, WV)


Participants are learning from regional and national experts, building their network with key partners in the funding and investment sectors, and applying what they learn to community projects. 

The Appalachia Investment Framer Action Cohort is supported by the Appalachian Investment Ecosystem Initiative, launched in 2019 with funding from Cassiopeia Foundation, Danville Regional Foundation, Greater Clark Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Thompson Charitable Foundation, UnitedHealthcare, and Wells Fargo.

“In order to accelerate community investment in Central Appalachia, we need to build a stronger and more inclusive pipeline of people working across the region who have the skills, tools, and connections needed to ‘frame up’ investment opportunities. Too often, good ideas at the community level do not move forward because our region has a limited number of people with the financial skills and understanding of capital needed to bring promising projects forward for investment,” said Andrew Crosson, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Appalachia. 

“With the Appalachia Investment Framer Action Cohort, we are creating a more equitable system that will increase our ability to bring capital into Central Appalachia. Growing this knowledge-base is the lynchpin to successfully draw the kinds of new and varied investments that help communities improve their economic futures,” said Deborah Markley, Senior Vice President of LOCUS Impact Investing. 

“This is a unique leadership development opportunity for community and economic development practitioners in Central Appalachia. When our region has a strong base of people who hold this kind of knowledge, and who are networked in with one another to both identify and move forward new projects, we will have even more regional leadership and resources to spur catalytic economic activity to drive community growth,” said Stephanie Tyree, Executive Director of the West Virginia Community Development Hub.

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Parsons

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.