Each year, the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, the West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development team up to shine a spotlight on southern West Virginia, by hosting the Small Communities, Big Solutions Conference. This event showcases all the successes and highlights what is working across the southern part of the state. Each year a mix of community leaders, educators, businesses and public officials come together to network, share ideas and learn what is working well in our state. With a sold-out crowd each year and overwhelmingly positive feedback from our attendees.
Learn more about Small Communities, BIG Solutions
About our Conference Partners
Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia
The Alliance is a joint venture among West Virginia’s 10 southern colleges and universities to better connect the educational resources and workforce training offered in Southern West Virginia. The goals of the alliance are to promote the region, eliminate redundancies, share best practices, improve the quality of life for area residents, create jobs, keep West Virginia’s talent pool in the state and revitalize southern communities. The alliance partner institutions include Bluefield State College, BridgeValley Community & Technical College, Concord University, Marshall University, Mountwest Community & Technical College, New River Community and Technical College, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, West Virginia State University and West Virginia University Institute of Technology. The alliance is focused on a 21-county area, including Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Putnam, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Webster and Wyoming counties, and represents more than 30,000 students.
West Virginia Community Development Hub
The West Virginia Community Development Hub mobilizes residents from all over the state to spark transformational change and progress in their communities. Hallmarks of the organization’s work are to spur on fresh momentum where little exists; to unite the forces of groups that have not considered – or even resisted – collaboration in the past; and to champion new, and sometimes unexpected, leaders. Over the past year, the hub has worked directly with 27 counties across the state and 1 in 5 West Virginians have been reached by hub-related projects over the past year. More information about the hub’s work and impacts over the past year is available at http://wvhub.org/what-were-doing/the-hub-our-work-and-its-impact .
In 2009 volunteers started to address concerns about housing in Wayne, West Virginia. It was quickly realized that traditional charity was not nearly enough to address the deep, generational challenges faced. After intense community engagement, they pioneered a relationship-based, holistic approach to on-the-job training. Unemployed and underemployed people were hired to construct green affordable housing. Today, they have grown into a family of social enterprises working throughout the region as a leader in the building of a new economy in the wake of the coal industry’s rapid decline. They have created more than 100 on-the-job training positions, more than 500 professional certification opportunities, redeveloped more than 150,000 square feet of dilapidated property and successfully launched five new businesses in real estate development, construction, woodworking, agriculture, and artisan trades – industries based on local assets and having real viability in the Appalachian region. Coalfield Development operates as a family of five social enterprises. A social enterprise is a business that combines the compassion of the nonprofit sector with the efficiency of the for-profit sector.