Also working in the city and region’s favor are projects and initiatives already up and running. Some of those natural resources and activities have been built out with additional room to grow, while others – like expanding the trail system – are just now gaining steam. In recent years, Beckley- Raleigh County Memorial Airport, New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), the City of Beckley, Raleigh County Commission and other entities have taken steps toward developing the region.
True enough. “You really have to have a very significant plan, a strategic plan, and then think about how, as a region, you’re going to make a tremendous impact in an area which will actually change the face, transform that area from being extremely depressed and being extremely active again, and growing, and thriving,” Manchin said.
For civic and governmental leaders and the people who want to call this place home, the good news is that the region is blessed with mountain terrain in every direction, natural resources for outdoor adventure development that attracts young people – climbing, hiking, rappelling, rafting, fishing and hunting. It will take a plan and regional cooperation and collaboration, she said – and gritty perseverance and determination, we would add, to push through likely setbacks.
But there is also much work – and change – ahead. There is much to be hopeful about the future of Beckley as the hub of a cultural, enterainment, outdoor creation and manufacturing.
Also to the good, the WV Hive Network, a business incubation program, is on solid footing and Belcher is seeking an $8 million development of the historic Alfred Beckley Mill region, which will situate Beckley as a “gateway” to the New River National Gorge Park and Reserve. By way of example, airport manager Tom Cochran worked with NRGRDA Executive Director Jina Belcher to develop Cochran’s long-time vision of building an aerospace industry in southern West Virginia, complete with a work force trained by West Virginia University Institute of Technology and New River Community and Technical College.
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