HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Huntington residents held a rally Monday as city leaders prepare to represent the community in the final round of the America’s Best Communities competition.

The rally was held at Pullman Park.

Eight communities were chosen as finalists for the contest, which is sponsored by Frontier Communications, Dish Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel. More than 300 communities entered the competition, including 13 from West Virginia.

The other finalists were: Lake Havasu City, Arizona; Madison, Indiana; Darrington/Arlington, Washington; Statesboro, Georgia; Chisago Lakes Area, Minnesota; Valley County/Meadows Valley, Idaho; and Tualatin, Oregon.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said on MetroNews affiliate WDGG-FM they are using the competition to advance projects in the city.

“Two things always help,” Williams said on the “Big John and Company” morning show. “Have a little competition where you are trying to outdo the next person or the next guy down the road, and secondly, have a deadline. We had each of these.”

Each community will be judged on the completion of short-term projects, community engagement and sustainable community revitalization. The judges are individuals with education and experience in microeconomics and community relationships.

Judges will choose the best community who meets those requirements, with the winner receiving $3 million toward its revitalization plan. The second-place community will receive $2 million, and the third-place recipient will receive $1 million.

Williams will travel with a group of people representing Huntington, including Mary Witten Wiseman, president of the Foundation for the Tri-State Community, and former city manager Margaret Mary Layne.

Williams said the city has already received $150,000 so far, which has helped in getting funds from other organization.

“It’s helped us leverage from corporate sources, philanthropic sources, some state and federal sources $12.7 million dollars,” he said.

Wiseman told MetroNews the opioid problem has drawn people away from the city, and a win could put the city in a positive light.

The winning community will be announced Wednesday at 7 p.m. The announcement will be streamed on the competition’s Facebook page.

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