The mission of Sustainable Williamson is to create a replicable model of sustainability for economically distressed communities throughout Central Appalachia.
Our integrated approach to community development considers education, rural and urban partnerships, social wellbeing, physical health, and improved infrastructure as indicators of success. This model informs research and development for rural economies; empowers local entrepreneurs to start new sustainable energy businesses throughout the region; and ultimately, employs a local workforce in sustainable energy careers.
Our vision is to create good paying jobs and demonstrate ways to retain wealth within the local economy. Benefits include attracting sustainable expertise to the region and activating local involvement. Sustainable Williamson will spark the creation of local businesses and prepare a workforce with competitive skills sets. Our collaborative strategy will reduce “brain drain”, increase the quality of life, and create an atmosphere in which local entrepreneurs can thrive.
Sycamore Trail: Building on the existing tourism industry in southern West Virginia, Sycamore Trail will provide connected, accessible, multi-use recreational opportunities for our community and travelers along the Hatfield McCoy Trail system. The development plans for this brownfield site adhere to the three pillars of sustainability.
Williamson Health and Wellness Clinic: The Health and Wellness Clinic provides integrated, one-stop health care services at no charge or at a reduced cost. Sustainability components include energy efficiency upgrades to the Health and Wellness Clinic facilities and improved access to health care for low-wealth citizens.
Municipal and Neighborhood Solar: Solar demonstration projects installed in 2011 include an 11.4 kW photovoltaic (PV) solar array atop the Family Care Center, a rural business in downtown Williamson. On the west end of Williamson, a solar PV array and a solar thermal water heating system demonstrate the potential for residential solar power. Mountain View Solar hosted solar installation trainings with a local workforce in 2010 and 2011. Gilliam Solar, a Williamson based solar installation company, was founded in 2011. Municipal and neighborhood solar plans create local employment opportunities and reduce energy expenses for communities.
Farmers Market at the Freight Depot: The Williamson Farmers Market is a thriving outdoor market at the city’s historic Freight Depot. The market demonstrates viable economic opportunity for local food producers from Kentucky and West Virginia. In partnership with the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, the Williamson Farmers Market will serve as a model for WV cities located on state borders.
Smart-Office: The Smart-Office will provide on the job training (OJT) opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy equipment installation for the local workforce including “train the trainer” opportunities for community and technical colleges. With guidance from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) professionals, the office will become a LEED certified workspace for interns and consultants.
Community Gardens: The Williamson Community Gardens are sited near low-income and high rise housing in two Williamson locations. The gardens help to build partnerships among local civic organizations, students, children and families in need, and senior citizens. Produce harvested from the gardens will encourage healthy lifestyles among community residents. Select products from the gardens will be sold at the Williamson Farmers Market to generate income for low-wealth residents.
Williamson Walkable Communities Program: Sponsored by the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, this prevention program challenges citizens to take charge of their health by incorporating physical activity into the routine workday. Community groups and downtown businesses compete for the most miles traveled in order to encourage healthy lifestyles.
Local Energy Action Plan: The Local Energy Action Plan (LEAP) will reduce energy expenses for Williamson’s five public buildings adopting cost saving strategies. West Virginia Sustainable Communities will connect citizens with opportunities to participate in sustainability education. Local stakeholders will measure success based on the Energy Star rating system.
Sustainable Williamson is an initiative of the Williamson Redevelopment Authority (WRA) in partnership with the JOBS Project (JOBS). The WRA acts as central governance board which makes decisions regarding funding, technical assistance and progress. The WRA Board appoints committees for each project building upon human and financial assets. JOBS brings together the robust project planning team combining local interests with sustainability expertise.