BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– The Southern West Virginia Community Network met in person on Thursday, February 23, 2023, for the first time at Tamarack alongside the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Around 150 representatives of local and regional government leaders came together to discuss how they plan to help develop rural communities.

The panels talked about how to help rural communities gain access to resources and funding, as well as how to overcome critical economic challenges across Southern WV.

Ryan Thorn, the State Director of USDA Rural Development, thinks one of the biggest goals of the meeting is to help spread knowledge and create a footprint for communities.

“We really want communities to not only survive but to thrive,” said Thorn. “We want to give them the resources; not only funding but technical assistance and capacity building resources so they can diversify their economies and become more resilient moving forward.”

USDA designated twenty counties in West Virginia for inclusion in the Rural Partner Network.