Montgomery and Smithers Celebration!

The residents of Montgomery and Smithers started the Cultivate West Virginia program during one of the most challenging times in the history of our great state. Through it all, residents have shown perseverance and resilience as they gave it their all to make positive change in their communities. 

We have witnessed triumphs and challenges together, but most of all, we have seen the pride-in-place and love that residents have for these communities.

We are honored to graduate these two communities from the Cultivate West Virginia program and look forward to continuing to walk alongside residents as they make transformational changes in their towns.

RECEIVING MINI-GRANT AWARDS

Positive momentum for many great community projects began in these very moments! These projects are created and led by the community members themselves. Residents identify challenges unique to their communities and offer solutions to address them. The result is a series of projects that both serve the diverse needs of residents and also create momentum for local community and economy building efforts.

Montgomery and Smithers residents received their funding for community projects at this awards ceremony in March of 2021.

Working together, we have accomplished a lot!

Working with $40,000 in seed funding invested by The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation and the West Virginia Community Development Hub, the residents of Montgomery and Smithers:

  • Kickstarted 22 volunteer-led community projects
  • Leveraged an additional $57,000 in funding for community work
  • Contributed 1,100 volunteer hours

Here are just a few of many examples of great things that happened (and are still ongoing!) in Montgomery and Smithers as a result:

  • An even more beautiful and welcoming community with flowers and plants around town, updated signage, community garden, improved green spaces and parks, walking trail, and public art
  • New special events and services for community members of all ages including a local farmers market, art fair, music festival, yoga classes, and 6 local pantries stocked with food and personal supplies
  • New community perspectives and learning contributing to a community economic feasibility study as a result of the public Envision Summit

Community Memories

“The Cultivate Program has provided a spark to new projects. If it weren’t for the Cultivate Program, the community would not have engaged in efforts to leverage funds for the purchase and installation of the electronic message board.  Team members recognized through working with others across the area that there is a large need to communicate the good and important events and programs that are already happening, to spark engagement in those, and to build excitement and participation to create more.” – Allison Smith

“The art camp showed the students how to macrame and they loved it! They were already discussing the other crafts they were going to make with this new skill. The Zentangles showed them a new way to meditate and find some quiet in their lives.” – Kasandra Parrish

“These simple grants have been amazing in helping increase interest and beautification of our community!” – Wanda King

“Cultivate WV has helped bring a new business to a small rural community in need of positivity.” – Hannah Kincaid

“Projects spiffing up the community not only begins to involve more local people in the projects, but builds community pride and sense of belonging, which in turn can be reflected by residents in their efforts to improve their own properties and literally feel like inviting more outsiders, friends, family and other outsiders, to visit, spend money, invest or even move here, all of which play a part in our economic redevelopment.” – Beach Vickers

“The mural gives our community a sense of pride and hope for a brighter future and a new landmark and welcome sign to our community.” – Bernice Deakins 

RIBBON CUTTING MOMENTS

In July 2021, residents gathered outside the Smithers Gateway Center for the monthly First Fridays Farmers Market and to celebrate the unveiling of the community’s new Urban Walking Trail. These projects and more represent the pride and collaborative spirit of Montgomery and Smithers.

From the coaches

“The community members of Smithers and Montgomery are passionate, committed people who are making change in their community every day. There may be two municipalities, but they truly stand behind their motto of one community. Thank you for inviting me in as your community coach and for teaching me a few things along the way!”

– Amanda Workman-Scott

“One of the best parts about coaching in Montgomery and Smithers was the two communities’ commitment to one another as they journeyed through a constantly evolving process over the past year. Watching projects get to the finish line and exceed the project teams’ expectations while also energizing residents was very rewarding. It always felt like these emerging leaders were there for one another and for their project teams.”

– Jenny Totten

A model to uphold

The local efforts to build communities and economies happening in Montgomery and Smithers are so remarkable that the team at the West Virginia Community Development Hub is shining a light on this story as a model that rural towns across the nation can use to learn and grow.

Montgomery and Smithers are one of five groups selected to be a part of the first Redefined West Virginia Community Case Studies. Residents are redefining rural collaboration and cooperation.  

Read the Montgomery & Smithers case study »

More Community Stories

Get Involved

If you are a resident in Montgomery or Smithers and want to get involved, if you are interested in
becoming a Cultivate Community, or if you are funder that is interested in learning more about
the program, contact program lead Amanda Workman Scott at a.workman@wvhub.org.

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