Small Communities, BIG Solutions team to host conversation on workforce development

The Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, along with Coalfield Development and the West Virginia Community Development Hub, are set to host the Small Communities, BIG Solutions workforce development quarterly meeting Thursday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

The virtual event focusing on workforce development in southern West Virginia will feature speakers and presentations as well as brainstorming and a live survey session. The working group conversation will focus on jobs, education, training and workforce development by coming up with #WVSolutions to the challenges faced throughout southern West Virginia.

“Industry, education, state government and community leaders make up the Small Communities, BIG Solutions banner and we are all bonded by our love for West Virginia and our passion to work together to strengthen our state,” said Sara Payne Scarbro, associate vice president for external engagement at the Marshall University Research Corporation and lead coordinator for this event. “A strong workforce pipeline is vital to our state’s growth and development and we are truly excited about participating in this working group as well as in future sessions.”

The schedule for the virtual event is as follows:

9 a.m. — Welcome Remarks

  • Brandon Dennison, Founder and CEO, Coalfield Development

9:10 a.m. — The State of West Virginia’s Workforce

  • Scott Adkins, Acting Commissioner, WorkForce West Virginia

9:25 a.m. – Snapshot 2021: Southern WV Small Business Leaders Survey Highlights

  • Sara Payne Scarbro, AVP of External Engagement, MURC & Operations Council Chair, the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern WV
  • Dr. Tim Melvin, Director of Assessment, College of Education and Professional Development, Marshall University

9:40 a.m. – Southern WV Workforce Assessment Highlights

  • Heather Vanater, Economic and Business Development Manager, Appalachian Power

10:05 a.m. – Flash Chats, Speed Updates on Aerospace, Health Professions and Community Aerospace/Aviation

  • Brian Sampson, Dean of Workforce, Technical and Community Education, New River Community and Technical College
  • James B. Smith, Director, RCBI Aero and Aviation Technology and Maintenance, Marshall University

Health and Health Professions

  • Aila Accad, Executive Director, Future of Nursing West Virginia Action Coalition
  • Deb Harris, Lead Transition Agent, Jobs and Hope West Virginia


  • Stephanie Tyree, Executive Director, West Virginia Community Development Hub

10:30 a.m. Working Session – Live Polling

  • Moderators: Brandon Dennison, Sara Payne Scarbro, Brittany Bruce

The working session is open to all, but space is limited. Register by visiting and searching Small Communities, BIG Solutions. Register here: