Opinion, WVPA Sharing

Opinion: Charting a course for prosperity: Reflections from the Future Forward Event

By Jina Belcher, executive director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority

In early April, the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce hosted a phenomenal inaugural “Future Forward” event that brought together key decision makers, potential leadership, and community members to discuss and strategize about critical needs for economic opportunities in Southern West Virginia. The event was not only a testament to the region’s potential but also a showcase of the innovative and collaborative efforts underway to harness this potential.

It was truly an honor to join in collaborative conversation with Stephanie Tyree, Executive Director of the WV Community Development Hub,  and Jordan Mayor, Delegate to discuss the robust economic engines driving our region: from the revitalization of downtown areas to the burgeoning outdoor economy, and from innovative policy reforms to strategic economic incentives. The conversation highlighted tangible successes and the vibrant initiatives fueling these achievements, like the remarkable expansion of local facilities and groundbreaking legislative measures that promise to further our economic landscape.

As we move forward, it’s clear that while we have built a strong foundation, there is still work to be done. At NRGRDA, we will continue to advocate for policies that support economic growth, attract and retain businesses, and ensure that our community’s natural and human resources are utilized effectively and sustainably.

I extend my deepest gratitude to the Beckley Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce for organizing such a successful event, and to all the participants who shared their insights and visions. Together, we are not just dreaming of a brighter future; we are actively constructing it. Let’s keep this momentum going, fostering further discussions and actions that will ensure the continued growth and prosperity of Southern West Virginia and the New River Gorge Region.

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Jina Belcher is executive director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority whose mission is to initiate, facilitate and support the economic and community development efforts within the counties of Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, and Summers located in this region of southern West Virginia. Jina resides with her family in Beckley, WV.

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