Madison, W. Va. has been selected as one of five communities in Southern W. Va. to be a part of the new one year program, Innovation Acceleration Strategies (IAS), with The Hub. The goal of this program is to provide direction for economic diversification through the engagement of the community. City Council Member, Carolyn Mullins believes this program is worth a try.
“It can help revitalize our economy and it doesn’t cost us anything,” Mullins said, “What do we have to lose?”
The first meeting for this program will take place at the Madison Civic Center on July 21 at 6:30 P.M. Mullins hope that the community will come out to provide support for this program.
“We provide people that will work on the committees and they will give us advice of what will work and what won’t work in our community,” Mullins said.
The Hub visited Boone County last year in Whitesville, as part of the Turn This Town Around program. This was also a year-long program that allowed the citizens of Whitesville to select and work on projects that they felt would be beneficial. Kris Mitchell, Boone County Economic Development Director, said that the first meeting had 200 citizens, but they struggled to maintain community engagement.
“They had this large group of people and it dwindled,” Mitchell said, “That’s the biggest challenge with this, just like any other project.”
Mitchell said Whitesville did benefit from the program, as they are still working on some projects without the help of The Hub. She believes the program could be more successful in a city like Madison.
“Community is absolutely vital for this to be successful,” Mitchell said, “I think that’s an advantage Madison has, Rev Up is strong and people recognize it.”
Dan Taylor, the program director for IAS, shared this sentiment that Madison already has a strong community base.
“The areas we selected were chosen not only because there were a need for diversifying the economy, but there also seemed to be active people working there and wanting to be involved in a process like this,” Taylor said.
The program hopes to get the most broad and diverse crowd at meetings as possible. As a start, they strive to have teachers, business owners, bankers, elected officials, youth, faith leaders, non-profits, parents, elders and low-income residents at the first meeting. Taylor believes this diverse cross-section of people is what can make IAS successful.
“It takes everybody and we need as many people as possible to be involved and the program is only as successful as the community members are motivated,” Taylor said.
Other communities selected for the IAS program include Alderson and cities in Lincoln and Wyoming counties. Taylor said they made it a priority to target communities that are struggling financially.
“We specifically wanted to focus on Southern West Virginia, just due to the economic situation to try to help those areas figure things out,” Taylor said.
In addition to the support of the current staff from The Hub, they will also be hiring a Vista to facilitate the program within these communities. Taylor said they would prefer someone with a connection to Madison for this job. They will work out of Charleston, but he added that it wasn’t too far of a commute. Anyone interested in this position should contact Dan Taylor by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.