The Hub Receives $9.3 Million in Funds to Launch Community and Business Resilience Initiative

The West Virginia Community Development Hub (The Hub) is excited to be part of the ACT Now Coalition’s large investment in southern West Virginia, led by Coalfield Development Corporation. On Friday, Sept. 2, the White House announced that the ACT Now Coalition was one of 21 awardees of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) grant. In total, the ACT Now Coalition has been awarded $62.8 million to implement various initiatives and programs across the southern part of the state.

The Hub and our partners are receiving more than $7 million from the BBBRC grant that will be leveraged with $2.2 million in matching funds to utilize $9.3 million in funds to launch the Community and Business Resilience Initiative (CBRI).

The Hub is proud to lead the CBRI as one of the four programs of the ACT Now Coalition, building a next-generation economy in southern West Virginia. The Community and Business Resilience Initiative partners include the West Virginia Community Development Hub; The Hive, a program of New River Gorge Regional Development Authority; Advantage Valley; the Southern Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall University; and the Northern Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University. The CBRI program builds a three-prong approach that serves as the foundation for successful economic diversification: people, through leadership and business development; planning, through strategic and community resilience planning support; and places, through community and downtown development. 

The CBRI project will include long-term community resilience planning for 16 communities across southern West Virginia through Hub community coaching services, BAD Buildings (brownfields, abandoned and dilapidated) services through the Brownfields Assistance Centers, and small business and entrepreneurial development services for hundreds of businesses across the 21 counties through The Hive and Advantage Valley programs. Program activities are expected to launch in early 2023.

By targeting 16 distressed communities with planning and redevelopment services and providing entrepreneurship and business development support throughout the 21-county target region, the project will create 500 new jobs, 120 new businesses, redevelop 70 buildings & brownfields, and catalyze $10 million in private investment over the next four years.

“Through our work at The Hub, we are constantly inspired by the transformational leadership we see everyday in West Virginia communities. We are excited to launch this new Initiative to continue supporting community and business leaders to grow the State’s economy and build vibrant main streets throughout West Virginia,” said Stephanie Tyree, Executive Director of the WV Community Development Hub. “The Community and Business Resilience Initiative, under the ACT Now Coalition, brings together some of the most innovative and impactful business development, community development and brownfields assistance practitioners in the state to provide wraparound economic and community development services for communities and businesses throughout the project’s multi-county footprint.” 

The Hub and our partners understand the challenges facing distressed communities in the region. Businesses seeking to locate or grow within the distressed communities face unrealistic costs of commercial space renovation and struggle to attract workforce to communities due to a lack of the quality of life and services demanded by an increasingly remote workforce. This reality has left these communities at a continued risk of long-term economic decline and population loss.

The Hub will lead the Initiative focused on building the foundation across rural communities and struggling neighborhoods in southern West Virginia, in order to seed and sustain long term success of ACT Now Coalition’s climate technology growth cluster. This will happen by working hand-in-hand with nearly 1,000 citizens, entrepreneurs, and municipal leaders across the Coalition’s 21-county region. 

A shift to a more climate resilient economy and industry is the next chapter in West Virginia’s economic development strategy. Now is the right time for investments into southern West Virginia communities in the Mountain State. West Virginia is poised to be a global energy leader in renewable and sustainable energy. The ACT Now Coalition is empowering our region to move at the pace of these rapidly changing markets and The Hub is proud to launch this new initiative with our partners, working together to help communities and businesses build the economically vibrant future they envision for our region.

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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.