CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State higher education officials have formed an alliance to help create jobs and revitalize southern West Virginia communities.
University and college presidents came together Monday at the state Capitol to unveil the Alliance for Economic Development for Southern West Virginia.
The alliance is made up of representatives from 10 public higher education institutions including:
- Bluefield State College
- BridgeValley Community and Technical College
- Concord University
- Marshall University
- Mountwest Community and Technical College
- New River Community and Technical College
- Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
- West Virginia State University
- West Virginia Institute of Technology
Dr. Jerome Gilbert, president of Marshall and chair of the alliance, said their goal is learn about all of their existing resources in regards to education services, workforce training, available business site and more. He said the alliance then plans to offer support in those areas.
“Our main goal is to create jobs, help people get back to work and to give hope to this region and show that this is a wonderful area, a place where businesses to locate and that we at higher learning stand committed to help raise the standard of living in this community,” Gilbert said.
The alliance will focus on a 21-county area including Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monrow, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Putnam, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Webster and Wyoming counties.
Issues regarding public health, the environment, education and the economy will be addressed through various initiatives.
Throughout the year, the alliance plans to offer workshops and events like fighting the opioid epidemic, easing the transition to higher education, expanding broadband, fostering entrepreneurship and more.
“We’re going to look for ways that we can bring resources and activities to our respective communities with no real ownership or no real idea about who gets credit. We’re trying to help our communities,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said education leaders play a big role in growing the economy.
“We as leaders in higher education don’t often step up and say come take advantage of our institution in reaching out to businesses and that’s what we’re doing as group. Come take advantage of all 10 of our institutions, not just one,” he said.