Revitalization program focuses on southern WV communities - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Revitalization program focuses on southern WV communities

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A special summit at Tamarack, the Best of West Virginia, announced six communities in southern West Virginia that will be the beneficiaries of a 10-month revitalization effort.

It is part of the 2013 Blueprint Communities initiative, which is a partnership between FHL Bank of Pittsburgh, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and West Virginia Community Development Hub.  The communities selected include Bluefield and Princeton in Mercer County, Hinton in Summers County, Sophia in Raleigh County, Marlinton in Pocahontas County and Richwood in Nicholas County.

The goal of the initiative is to act as a catalyst for revitalization and develop leadership to help create sustainable communities in the region.  Angela Salina with the West Virginia Development Hub said the application process began at the height of the emergency created by the derecho which struck on June 29, 2012 and left much of southern West Virginia without power.  She said that meant that communities in the 12 counties targeted by the initiative had to overcome extreme difficulties just to register.

"These six communities were really able to generate the kind of team effort and the excitement we were looking for and that's why they were selected," said Salina. "They really had a lot of energy and their communities have a lot of assets to build on."

The Blueprint Communities mission is furthered by strong local leadership, collaboration and development capacity.  Those elements are helped along by local and regional planning, a clear vision for the community and a strategy for implementation.  It also works to encourage investment from public and private funders.

The sponsors targeted southern West Virginia in 2013 because of the projected economic impact from the Summit Bechtel Family Boy Scout Reserve in Mount Hope.