Let's start painting the Big Picture. We have talked about theoretically what it takes to turn our community and this region of West Virginia around. Let's get a practical view into what it could look like.
The entire bottom floor of the Community Center will be a dedicated Entrepreneur Zone. It will host a collective of local artisans, heritage product retailers, local foods, antique retailers and the like. Artisans and retailers will join the collective and their products will be sold through the collective on commission. Therefore you will not have to have resources to operate your shop. Next year we will begin to look for folks with these interests and skills, and work to define the final collection as we begin to plan the grand opening in Spring of 2025.
This is why we have done a lot of craft shows and the Farm2Table initiative. We wanted to folks a feel for the value of their talents and treasures. We have seen extraordinary success with our Pies for Progress program. I would hate to think how much has been spent on pies and how many pounds gained as a result. (Note: the bottom floor will also have a Fitness Zone and we will be also looking for trainers who are interested to free-lance there, but I digress).
The entire bottom floor hallways and front classrooms will be comprise the EZ. The Business Incubator operated by Little Kanawha Development Corporation will also be housed there to support entrepreneurs and businesses in their efforts to start up and scale.
Sometime in the Spring we will host a general informational meeting for folks interested in joining the collective(s), and we are considering offering some very practical sessions on business basics, such as Getting Started, Managing Finances, Marketing, Scaling, etc. If we do these sessions, they will be open to anyone not just those going into the collective.
painting the big picture, we can see......collections of our local artists in wood, clay, glass, fabric, and any other media we can conceive. We can see home grown food products both fresh and canned/preserved in the community kitchen (also on the bottom floor, goat milk products, and in the summers the Farmer's Market will be there as well.
The Varsity Chop House will be open on weekends to attract foodies. The nano brewery will offer a small selection of home brews to test the market. If this goes well, we may scale up to microbrew size.
The pool will be open in the summer. The Recovery Zone will be available for meetings and fellowship. The Adventure Zone will provide gear, kayak rentals, and guided tours for recreational activities all over the county. We will also be looking for a collective to run this operation.
The Day Trip tourism sector is booming and there is no reason that we cannot be a part of it in a big way. This is why we are focusing on improvements in Grantsville. New paint, lamp posts, and beautiful vibrant little town. Music at Alice's on Friday evenings. We need more small retailers in town too. We want folks to come and spend the day with us. People are already coming for Grinder's coffee. For existing businesses, let's figure out what you do best and market the heck out of it. I have been talking to Lisa D'Ann Cooper about Mom's meatloaf. I hear we will soon have a bakery with the creations of Caitlin Weaver who is the perfect combination of baker and artist.
So put on your creative thinking caps. Who do you know who has artistic creations that would work well? Who do you know that wants to get involved in the outdoor collective? Or who wants to be a personal training free-lancer in our new Fitness Zone.
I hope this starts to solidify what the future can look like. I cannot wait to see it!
PS. Don't forget the basic strategy for our comeback....nothing like a Cinderella story!
Build for the day trip town. Continue to clean the place up. Develop the river. Develop recreation including ATV and motorcycle circuits. Paint the town. Leverage our local foods. Add the streetlamps. Develop marketing for key attractions and shopping all over the county.
Put pressure on our local government to provide the basic needs in a high quality fashion .....schools, healthcare, and protection.
Decide how you want to participate. Many folks have already expressed interest in starting businesses, working at the community center, or joining coops to collectively join forces with those of like interests. A focus on history and heritage products will serve us well. We are rich in this and need to exploit it as an asset.
Stop saying "can't". We can and we will.
Once we have firmed up the foundational requirements, actively source large businesses to come. Remote workers or brick and mortar....either would be fine.
The picture below is the wood fired pizza over for The Varsity read for installation as soon at the restaurant is complete.