WVPA Sharing

Jina Belcher of NRGRDA to speak at April 30 Oak Hill town hall on childcare issues hindering business and economic development

West Virginia Press Association

OAK HILL, W.Va. — Jina Belcher, executive director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), is slated to address stakeholders and citizens attending the 6 to 7:30 p.m. April 30 “A State Without Child Care” Town Hall Series at Lively Family Amphitheater on Main Street in Oak Hill, W.Va.

Belcher said, ”West Virginia ranks 50th in child care accessibility, and 64% of West Virginians live in a child care desert. Adequate and affordable child care is the backbone of a productive and ready workforce and a region must possess this critical service to experience job growth, business retention, and new business attraction. NRGRDA is adding its voice to the collective group seeking state tax credits and incentives for child care and an expansion of the tax credit the Legislature enacted in 2023 for the development of more child care facilities in our communities. We’re fortunate to have the strong voice of Melissa Colagrosso, owner of A Place To Grow, representing our region’s childcare needs and NRGRDA will staunchly advocate for innovative solutions to support childcare. ”

As working mother, Belcher said we need more business leaders to attend these town hall meetings and to get actively involved in sharing data about how the lack of accessible and affordable child care hinders our communities and the state overall.

The West Virginia Association for Young Children and West Virginia Chamber of Commerce are collaborating to encourage the West Virginia Legislature to act on childcare deficiencies during the May Special Session. This free community forum open to the public is one of 10 being held statewide to educate citizens on local, state and federal policies and activities that could help enhance childcare opportunities. Other town halls are being held in these locations: 

Bridgeport – April 9

Charleston – TBD

Huntington – May 7

Keyser – TBD

Lewisburg – April 23

Parkersburg – May 9

Princeton – May 2

Shenandoah Junction – May 8 

Weirton – April 11

Wheeling – April 17

Belcher joined leaders from across WV at the state’s annual “Child Care Day” at the Legislature on February 14 (Valentine’s Day) to meet with legislators and call attention to the child care needs of employers, college students, and families.

More details are available about the event by contacting Melissa Colagrosso at [email protected]

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About New River Gorge Regional Development Authority: The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority’s (NRGRDA) mission is to initiate, facilitate and support the economic and community development efforts within the counties of Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, and Summers. More can be found at https://nrgrda.org/ 

The West Virginia Hive – NRGRDA’s entrepreneurial arm – offers professional technical assistance for new and existing business owners throughout a 13-county region of southern West Virginia. Learn more at wvhive.com

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