Plans underway for new $11 million initiative to build economies across Southern WV

The WV Community and Business Resilience Initiative is part of the ACT Now Coalition, a network of partners that was chosen by the U.S. Economic Development Administration for a $500,000 “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” Grant and that revealed plans today for an effort to leverage $100 million more.

The Appalachian Climate Technologies Coalition (“ACT Now Coalition”) launched on Monday, February 7 at Coalfield Development Corporation’s West Edge Factory in Huntington, WV. Speakers included representatives from the state’s two largest municipalities (Charleston and Huntington), its two largest universities (West Virginia University and Marshall University), and a network of workforce, community, and economic development partners. The coalition will submit an application in March to the U.S. EDA seeking $75 million, leveraged with $30 million in other funds, to implement a coordinated economic development strategy in southern West Virginia. Senator Joe Manchin addressed the proceeding by video, and representatives of Senator Shelley Moore Capito and Congresswoman Carol Miller, as well as state government leadership, also joined in the event.

As part of the proposal, the WV Community Development Hub in partnership with Advantage Valley, Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University, WV Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall University, and WV Hive is seeking $11 million to fund the WV Community and Business Resilience Initiative.

The initiative builds a 3-prong approach that serves as the foundation for successful economic diversification in southern West Virginia: people (leadership and business development), planning (strategic and community resilience plans), and places (community and downtown development). 

If funded, teams working on the WV Community and Business Resilience Initiative will engage thousands of community and local business leaders as well as deploy $900,000 in technical assistance and help business owners raise $1 million in capital to better position West Virginia communities to build a viable, sustainable economic future from the ground up. 

The WV Community and Business Resilience Initiative will lead to: 

  • New and expanding businesses that scale up the number of homegrown entrepreneurs who share a mindset about economic diversification, climate resiliency and green technologies (Advantage Valley & WV Hive);
  • Diverse groups of high-capacity, locally-based leaders who are prepared to create Community Resilience Plans as well as advance large-scale community resilience and green development projects (WV Community Development Hub); and
  • Multiple new and historic properties in development to create the built environment needed to catalyze community and economic growth (WV Brownfields Assistance Centers). 

Partners planning the WV Community and Business Resilience Initiative are deploying their highest-impact strategies in community and economy building to get results. If funded, partners anticipate that thousands of residents in Southern West Virginia will be engaged in a collaborative process. They will create hundreds of jobs and support more than 500 businesses in launching or expanding. More than 100 community revitalization projects will launch and up to 30,000 square feet in existing buildings will be evaluated for remediation and renovation opportunities.

Read Perspectives from Project Leaders

Advantage Valley Executive Director Terrell Ellis: “We’re taking the most effective strategies from each of the partners in the WV Community and Business Resilience Initiative. Advantage Valley’s FASTER WV program is a time-tested model to support the creation of new and expanded businesses and create new jobs. Working in partnership with WV Hive means we can share expertise on green business practices with our clients which makes our services even more impactful. We’re anticipating more than 250 new jobs created and more than 120 new businesses through our combined efforts.”

Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center Director Carrie Staton: “Residents working to make positive change in West Virginia communities need a built environment to support their efforts. Services like technical assistance to level-up development happening in historic downtowns, making connections to funding opportunities, and preparing environmental and structural assessments will create the kinds of infrastructure needed for successful economy building.”

Southern Brownfields Assistance Center Director George Carico: “As Southern West Virginia communities are preparing to diversify and grow their economies, they need infrastructure to support them. Environmental and structural assessments of existing properties, prioritizing the properties that would be most advantageous for development, and complementing services will ensure that. The WV Brownfields Assistance Centers will assess up to 300 sites and evaluate up to 30,000 square feet of buildings for remediation and renovation opportunities to set these communities up for success.”

WV Community Development Hub Executive Director Stephanie Tyree: “West Virginia is a leader in the energy sector, and our state will continue to be a leader if we successfully prepare residents to take advantage of new opportunities and mitigate risks. The WV Community and Business Resilience Initiative brings together high-impact, West Virginia-based economy builders to work alongside residents to motivate and prepare them so we can ensure no communities will be left behind by the shifts happening today in our country’s energy sector.”

WV Hive Executive Director Judy Moore: “As we look to the future of communities in southern West Virginia, we know we can make a transformational economic impact if we build up a network of entrepreneurs and small businesses who share a mindset about climate resiliency and green technologies. Working alongside Advantage Valley we will provide entrepreneurship services to set up entrepreneurs for success. With our efforts combined, we are looking to create 250 new jobs and support more than 120 new or expanded businesses.

Questions

Please reach out to The Hub’s Director of Strategic Network Communications Emma Pepper at e.pepper@wvhub.org.

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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.