In the town of St. Albans, Kanawha County, the local Chamber of Commerce has hosted two What’s Next discussions in the wake of a violent crime that shook up the community and inspired a desire for change and improvement. A broad outreach effort to attract participants included newspaper stories and the creation of a What’s Next, St. Albans? Facebook group. Meetings have generated positive conversation and attracted attendees young and old, from state legislators to county officials to “everyday folks” involved in various aspects of the economy, such as the small business, nonprofit, faith-based, education, and medical sectors. The group has established their main areas of focus as tourism, business development, and housing. Committees have been formed to work on each of these issue areas. In addition to discussing issues at the meetings, the conveners distributed forms for people to fill out with their ideas and suggestions for improving the town. The contents of those forms are being inputted into a database for future planning work. Staff from the WV Community Development Hub and the WV Center for Civic Life will be attending future forums to discuss funding avenues for the projects that gain the most consensus throughout the course of the discussions. Congrats, St. Albans--we are wishing you lots of success!

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