WVPA Sharing

WV Community Development Hub receives $1.27 million from Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative for economy building efforts in rural communities

WV Press Release Sharing

CHARLESTON, WV – The WV Community Development Hub is excited to announce the launch of the Downtown Appalachia: Revitalizing Recreation Economies (DARRE), a strategic three-year initiative to build local economies. Eight communities located in the Monongahela National Forest region in West Virginia will participate: Cowen, Elkins, Franklin, Marlinton, Parsons, Petersburg,  Richwood, and White Sulphur Springs. 

The central partners of the program, the WV Community Development Hub, the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU, and Partner Community Capital (formerly Natural Capital Investment Fund), combined bring more than 30 years of experience in community engagement, property redevelopment technical services, financial investment and lending, and strategic planning. 

With the support of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and matching funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the One Foundation, DARRE will support rural communities in building an integrated strategy for economy building focused on the following activities: downtown building redevelopment, entrepreneurial training & small business development assistance, and comprehensive community revitalization.

While the tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, state and national parks have been an exception to the rule, including in West Virginia which saw a 9% increase of visitors to these locations in 2020. Communities located near parks and recreational areas, like the eight participating in DARRE, are ideally placed to take advantage of the state’s investment in tourism attraction and its connected investment in remote worker attraction.

DARRE will build upon community partnerships developed as part of the WV Community Development Hub’s community coaching programs including working with existing teams to help accelerate positive impacts. The eight participating communities will have access to over $1M in technical assistance funding to revitalize underutilized downtown properties and attract developer investment; technical support to build engaged entrepreneurial communities that proactively develop and support small businesses; and community development services that ensure long-term local engagement and visible improvements to each individual community.  

The central partners leading this program will engage many business and project development support organizations to leverage the maximum amount of resources for participating communities. The DARRE partnership welcomes inquiries from interested stakeholders as well as residents in participating communities. To get connected with the DARRE program, contact program leads Kaycie Stushek at [email protected] or Stacy Thomas at [email protected]

About the WV 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 21 communities across the state and 40% of West Virginians were positively impacted by Hub-related projects. More information about The Hub’s work and impacts over the past year is available at wvhub.org. 

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