Listen to Nikki Bowman discuss the Turn This Town Around campaign with Megan Moriarty on Allegheny Mountain Radio.
Hillsboro was one of eight towns participating in Turn This Town Around, a new campaign in West Virginia. Nikki Bowman, the founder of New South Media and publisher of WV Living, said the idea for this campaign came about four years ago.
“As I go through towns, I always think ‘Oh man, it’s got such great potential.’ And I thought, ‘Someday when I have the opportunity I really want to do something about this.’”
Bowman has loved small West Virginia towns since she was a kid.
“I grew up in Clay county, and Kanawha county, and my family was from an area called Jumping Gut in Clay county – not many people have been there. So that’s probably where my passion comes from.”
There are eight towns participating in the Turn This Town Around campaign—four from the northern end of the state and four in the southern end. In the north there’s Grafton, Hundred, Petersburg, and Rowlesburg. And in the south there’s Alderson, Hillsboro, Matewan, and Pineville. People have until February 14 to vote for the towns they want to win on wvfocus.com.
“It’s something communities can rally behind and that we can provide community partners to come into these towns to provide expertise, to provide manpower, to provide some funding, and really just passion, motivation, and guidance to address some of the issues they might be struggling with.”
On the website the campaign is described as a historic partnership between West Virginia Focus, the WV Community Development Hub, and WV Public Broadcasting. Bowman said that once the two winning towns are announced, these organizations will begin working with the towns and the whole process will be documented.
“It will be in a series of features in every issue of West Virginia Focus, which comes out every other month. WV Public Broadcasting is also going to follow the story, we’re going to provide a toolkit for small communities on growth and economic development, and a lot of different aspects, education, and as we’re documenting this any town can learn from this experience. There’s 149 incorporated municipalities in the state, and 2, 941 unincorporated communities in the state. We need to have something like this addressing the problems in our small towns, because really West Virginia is a state made up of small communities.
To vote for the town you would like to win, visit the West Virginia Focus website at wvfocus.com. The deadline to vote is February 14.
“There are so many of us who have grown up in small communities, and who live in small communities right now that we see the potential in our towns and yet we’re overwhelmed. We don’t know where to even start. My biggest hope is that through this campaign we get people over that fear of being overwhelmed, and help ignite that passion and that can-do attitude, and support network that actually makes a difference. We can talk about all of the challenges facing our small communities; there is a lot to be said. But at the end of the day, it’s the actions that matter.”
From Allegany Mountain Radio, this is Megan Moriarty.