Small Communities, BIG Solutions conference registration now open

Southern West Virginia will be in the spotlight this coming fall, as the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, the West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development are teaming up once again for the second annual Small Communities, BIG Solutions conference.  This event will showcase southern West Virginia successes and highlight what is working across the state’s 21 most southern counties. The Small Communities, BIG Solutions conference will be held at BridgeValley Community & Technical College’s Advanced Technology Center, located at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston, Monday, Nov. 18.

"We received overwhelming positive feedback from our attendees and participants in last year’s conference, so we decided to make the conference an annual tradition," Sara Payne Scarbro, the alliance’s operations council chair, said. "There are so many individuals and organizations that are doing amazing work and this conference gives attendees the opportunity to network, make new connections and learn about what is working well in southern West Virginia."

Brandon Dennison, founder and CEO of Coalfield Development said, "We often don’t take the time to capture our successes and we may overlook what we are doing well. This conference is important because it allows us to push ‘pause’ to celebrate each other and learn about what is actually working in our communities and how to build upon those successes."

The partners expect a good mix of participants, including businesses, educators, community leaders and public officials.

The one-day function will include updates from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, other government leaders, the West Virginia Department of Commerce, and business and education leaders.

Attendees will have an opportunity to attend various breakout sessions on various topics including addiction and recovery, workforce development, community revitalization, women’s issues and many more.

The conference partners will also highlight seven individuals during a POWER of Performance awards ceremony during the conference.

"We truly want to honor our own during this conference," Stephanie Tyree, West Virginia Community Development Hub’s executive director said. "These POWER performers can be businesses, grantees, community activists or individuals. This is a time for southern West Virginia to shine and we will highlight the best of the best during our conference."

The Small Communities, BIG Solutions conference is open to the public, but space is extremely limited. The cost is $35 per person. To learn more about the conference and to register, visit Eventbrite at  For more information contact Scarbro at 304-696-2889.


More 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

Coalfield Development-

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.