Higher education presidents unite to unveil the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia

Presidents and representatives from the state’s 10 public higher education institutions today announced the Alliance for the Economic Development for Southern West Virginia (Alliance), a joint venture among West Virginia’s southern colleges and universities.

The Alliance will work to better connect the educational resources and workforce training offered in Southern West Virginia to promote the region, eliminate redundancies and share best practices, improve the quality of life for area residents, create jobs and revitalize southern communities.

The partner institutions include:  Bluefield State College, BridgeValley Community and 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’s main goal is to learn about existing resources in regard to education services, workforce training, the talent pool, available business sites, and willing partners in Southern West Virginia, and to promote and utilize these resources in a meaningful way that will create jobs, enhance the state’s business sector and competitive edge, ensure workers have access to the latest training and technology, build long-lasting partnerships and, ultimately, revitalize small Southern West Virginia communities.

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.

The Alliance will concentrate on fostering an environment for economic growth, through a number of initiatives. In order to grow the regional economy, the Alliance must identify and implement solutions to tackle the current challenges facing quality of life issues in the Alliance’s 21 county area, like public health, livable communities and education issues. The Alliance will also work to build partnerships among local economic development organizations, the public educational institutions and the state.

The Alliance will leverage its individual partner resources to create a master matrix of the educational, business and land resources offered in Southern West Virginia. Throughout the year, the Alliance will offer events and workshops on topics like fighting the opioid epidemic, easing the transition to higher education, expanding broadband, fostering entrepreneurship, and building local coalitions by pooling our resources, talent and expertise at the higher education level.

This Alliance represents more than 30,000 students currently working on obtaining various degrees, from associate to doctorate.

For more information and regular updates about the Alliance, visit www.marshall.edu/aedswv.

Quotes from the Alliance’s Partners:

Marshall University President Dr. Jerry Gilbert – Chair of the Alliance

“It is time to come together to solve our own challenges and we are going to do just that. The creation of this Alliance is very significant for West Virginia because our southern higher education institutions are showing our state’s leaders that we are committed to economic development, to partnering on projects that grow jobs and grow momentum. Southern West Virginia has many challenges, but we are sending a strong, clear message that we are invested, we care and we will make a positive impact by working together.”

West Virginia State University President Dr. Anthony Jenkins – Vice Chair of the Alliance

“The Alliance is a collection of some of the best minds in higher education in our state. Together we are using our collective expertise and resources to improve the educational attainment, quality of life, and upward mobility of our deserving citizens. We understand that this initiative is not a catalyst for self-promotion of our respective institution, rather we endeavor to use this collaboration for the betterment of our citizens and the great state of West Virginia. This is my purpose, and; thus why I am pleased to help lead this effort.”

Bluefield State College President Dr. Marsha Krotseng
“Bluefield State is strongly committed to growing the economy of southern West Virginia.  By partnering with the region’s other public colleges and universities in the Alliance, we all combine our unique strengths to become an even more powerful force that can encourage entrepreneurs, help attract new employers, provide them with a highly educated and capable workforce, and focus on solutions to transform the economy.  Our higher education institutions produce a tremendous economic impact, not just for southern West Virginia but for the state as a whole.  That impact can be multiplied many times over through the collective energies of this partnership.”

Bridgevalley Community and Technical College President DrEunice Bellinger
“The health of the southern West Virginia is vital to the prosperity of our entire State, and I’m excited to see the colleges of this region take an active role in addressing the extraordinary challenges these communities face. It’s time we leave our campuses to spur on a positive transformation of this region by revitalizing our neighborhoods, supporting sustainable industry, and cultivating entrepreneurship.”

Concord University President Dr. Kendra Boggess
“Concord University is proud to be a member of the Alliance, which will prove to be a vital force for economic development in southern West Virginia.  With their rich history of educational support for the region, the Alliance members are positioned to harness and apply shared resources to regional issues and committed to restoring hope to a challenged people and sparking development in the region.”

Mountwest Community & Technical College President Dr. Keith Cotroneo
The Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia is an exciting opportunity for Mountwest to partner with other colleges to showcase our programs that provide the quality well trained workforce needed  to build the region’s economy.”

New River Community and Technical College President Dr. L. Marshall Washington

“I look forward to advancing the work of the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia.  This group brings together Education (K-12 through College), Community and Economic Development, Health Care, Business Recruitment, and Broadband Infrastructure to a region of the state that desperately needs to partner, share resources, and build relationships between local, county and state governments, business and industry.”

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College President Dr. Robert E. Gunter

“Southern, Marshall and the other area colleges and universities are building a strong partnership to help change the culture of Southern West Virginia.  Southern is excited to be a part of this Alliance. This new partnership and the dedication of its educational leadership in conjunction with local, regional and national businesses will invest their energies to make substantial change in our region.  By coming together in this way, individual resources can be leveraged to make meaningful change in positive directions…there’s greater strength in numbers partnering together than what each can do individually.”

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine President Dr. Michael Adelman

“The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) is pleased to be a partner in the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia. We recognize the importance of collaborative efforts to positively impact the lives of West Virginians. The focus of the Alliance aligns with WVSOM’s mission in the areas of education, research and the quality of health care for West Virginians.”

West Virginia University Institute of Technology President Carolyn Long

“Working alongside our community and higher-ed neighbors to advance economic development, prosperity and job opportunities has always been important to us,” said Carolyn Long, president of WVU Tech. “West Virginia Forward’s statewide efforts to strengthen our economic future fits perfectly with the mission of the Alliance, which is working to attract new economic opportunities in Southern West Virginia and tackle some of our region’s most pressing challenges. WVU Tech is very proud to be a part of this effort to revitalize our communities.”