Forty-four of 55 West Virginia counties were devastated by floods beginning on June 23, 2016. Homes were lost, streets washed away, buildings collapsed. But more importantly, more than 20 people died, and the death toll may rise as crews move in to assess damage and clean up. We're proud of the heroic efforts of friends and neighbors, rescue professionals and good Samaritans who have risked their own lives and certainly given up their own comforts to assist others in ravaged communities. We're also painfully aware of the access and information gaps that continue to limit the work of crews and volunteers across the state. We applaud our disaster and volunteer responders and their heroic action, and we're also thinking long-term about our communities--how to build them back, and make them better than ever before.
Since 2006, Create West Virginia organizers have sung the praises and taught the benefits and how-to's of positioning West Virginia communities for participating in the global Innovation Economy.
We did our homework. We networked. We published a whitepaper that is relevant today. And nearly 10 years ago we created a research-driven strategic plan based on Innovation Economy community and economic development. We started organizing statewide conferences and community meetings to encourage absolutely everyone, especially high ranking public officials and influential industry leaders, to learn and share what they are doing to make our communities attractive to innovators. Ideas and projects run the gamut from amenities-driven revitalization to arts entrepreneurship, to fostering a culture of small tech-oriented businesses that are incubating in our university towns.
With more people on the Innovation Economy page these days, Create West Virginia leadership feels now is the time to move beyond discussion, beyond persuasion, beyond silos, to make striking changes in how we will go forward in reconstituting our places. Now, with so many communities in "rebuild" mode, there's no better time to plan to truly create the best communities, designed to universally support our diverse and tremendous human potential.
A FUND FOR PLACEMAKERS AND INNOVATORS
A locally managed, community-driven patient capital fund that promises complete transparency and support for innovative projects and ideas. It's for communities and individuals who demonstrate design-thinking, problem-solving and entrepreneurship for more effective, equitable and sustainable solutions.
The Create West Virginia Community Innovation Fund will provide financial and professional support for the implementation of new, innovative and timely community development projects driven by local innovators who are solving water, sewage, housing, telecommunications, transportation, access, wellness, education, efficiency and entrepreneurship needs.
Think of this fund as a West Virginia-centric civic Research &Development fund that encourages communities to develop and test new solutions to community challenges in education, technology, entrepreneurship, quality of place, and diversity.