HUNTINGTON — The Appalachian Climate Technologies Coalition ("ACT Now Coalition") launched in February at Coalfield Development Corporation’s West Edge Factory.
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 planned to 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.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) addressed the proceeding by video, and representatives of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.), 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 three-pronged 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 is expected to lead to:
• New and expanding businesses which scale up the number of homegrown entrepreneurs who share a mindset about economic diversification, climate resiliency and green technologies (Advantage Valley and 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 WVCBRI 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. The initiative is expected to 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.
"We’re taking the most effective strategies from each of the partners in the WV Community and Business Resilience Initiative," said Advantage Valley Executive Director Terrell Ellis. "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 said, "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."
"As southern West Virginia communities are preparing to diversify and grow their economies, they need infrastructure to support them," said Southern Brownfields Assistance Center Director George Carico. "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 said, "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."
“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," said WV Hive Executive Director Judy Moore. "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."
More information on partner organizations can be obtained below:
• Visit the Advantage Valley website: https://advantagevalley.com/
• Visit the WV Brownfields Assistance Centers website: https://wvbrownfields.org/
• Visit the WV Community Development Hub website: https://wvhub.org/
• Visit the WV Hive website: https://wvhive.com/
(Information supplied by www.asheragency.com)