History and Approach

The West Virginia Community Development Hub supports West Virginians with the tools and training they need to lead and spark positive change in their hometowns and across our state. 

In 2009, The Hub was founded by a small group of passionate, committed community development leaders who saw an opportunity to establish a new, innovative approach to catalyze community growth and transformational change in rural areas of West Virginia. Their goal was to create an organization that would serve as a technical assistance provider, a coach for communities, and a team to connect the network of resources available across the state to serve West Virginia communities.

The Hub’s purpose is to:

    1. Coach volunteer community leadership teams to help them build sustained development in rural communities; and
    2. Grow the overall community economic development system in West Virginia through collaborative partnerships that use innovative approaches to address systemic challenges for rural development. 

"For more than a decade, we have experimented, learned, and walked beside communities as they have had successes and failures. We have identified strategies for rural community development that can work in any place that has a small group of dedicated, diverse local leaders who want to improve their area."

– Amanda Workman-Scott

Director of Community Engagement

What is Community Development?

Community Development is the act of making a place the best version of itself. At The Hub, we know that every community has the potential to shine as a strong and vibrant place where locals can live their best lives and visitors are excited to explore. We work to bring forward local leaders to highlight the assets, history, engagement, and connection among residents that make a community so special.

Our Motivating Belief

At The Hub, we work with teams of West Virginians to define the future they want to see and build the skills and connections to get there. We believe that when West Virginians leverage the opportunities and tools they need to make positive change, they create a transformational impact in their communities.

We believe that every West Virginia community has assets available today that enable them to build:

  • New economic opportunities 
  • Vibrant community environments that reflect their unique identities and histories 
  • Networks of engaged residents who believe in their ability to create the changes they want to see and who are prepared to work together to make them happen

HOW WE WORK

We are grounded in four approaches:

INVEST

Invest in community leadership, teams, and community-identified projects

BUILD

Build impactful partnerships across the diverse groups working on community development in the state

TACKLE

Tackle the systems-level challenges that communities face through creative policy engagement

DRIVE

Drive forward a new story about West Virginia detailing how positive change is possible and is happening today

OUR VALUES

1. We begin by building up leaders.

Bringing forward new and unexpected leaders is the foundation of innovation. Welcoming different perspectives is necessary to actualize the systemic changes needed to bring about lasting, positive outcomes in our state.

2. We believe residents are subject-matter experts.

Transformational change happens when residents are continually at the forefront of both defining the challenges as they see them and enacting the solutions to address them.

3. We collaborate.

Everything we do is in partnership; we never go it alone. We continually invite new leaders to the table and we build new partnerships to offer value to communities.

4. We believe diversity creates strength.

Welcoming diverse community members and local volunteers will create a transformational impact for our state.

5. We commit.

We ground our work in the Theory of Accompaniment, a practice that calls us to carry out our services in concert with the people we serve –  walking beside, not ahead – and to engage in our commitments for the long-term.

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