Quality of Place

Community development agents in all four counties work to improve the quality of place by facilitating the development of recreational initiatives, promoting growth of local farmers’ markets and community gardens, and supporting the preservation of cultural and historical initiatives.
Quality of place is defined as the intersection of three key elements: what’s there (the natural and built environments), who’s there (the people), and what’s going on (what people are doing, our relationship with the natural and built environments). The key factor today revolves around the ability of places to attract talent and unleash it in a broad cross-section of the population. An energized region is the place where creative, entrepreneurial and forward-thinking people from every walk of life, every class, and every lifestyle want to be. And people with abundant creative energy don’t want to be safely tucked away somewhere. They look for the rough edges and seek the authentic. As urbanist Jane Jacobs said, “New ideas really do require old buildings”. Quality of place is not just about consuming, the real energy of a place comes from authentic experiences and the jagged edges that create the stimuli that attracts the people who are today’s economic drivers. We are striving to:

  • restore and sustain the sites and places for which West Virginia owes its origins
  • create venues where the “wild & wonderful” can be experienced and accessible to residents and visitors
  • bring the small farm back to the West Virginia landscape and provide opportunity to connect the local farms to tables
  • restore the small downtowns as attractive and cool places to be
  • address the inevitable blight that remains from decades of a boom and bust economy
  • bring citizens together in efforts of revitalizing, repurposing, and restoring pride of location
  • provide meaningful and sustainable economic opportunity for entrepreneurs and businesses both small and large

We are currently working closely with a Foundation which owns and manages an historic high school, in securing the resources to thoroughly assess the preservation requirements, marketing opportunities, and sustainable operations required to keep this facility viable. We create partnerships with groups such as the Preservation Alliance of WV, AmeriCorps, the local municipality, the Historic Landmark Commission, and the WV Commission on the Arts. On the recreation front, it was recognized that there was a location which would provide strategic access to Summersville Lake for small watercraft. Our agent initiated dialogue which included the City of Summersville and the Army Corps of Engineers, resulting in the development of a plan for implementing this access. The launch will alleviate crowding at the current lake access points, provide a convenient access location near town, and allow many additional small craft users to enjoy the largest lake in West Virginia. As most small downtowns in West Virginia have declined in patronage, our agents are participating in community revitalization efforts aimed at beautification, enhanced walkability, and promotion of cluster business development. Revitalization requires a sustained effort and our agents are located right where the action is – and they can bring persistent effort to the table in support of these initiatives.

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