Small Town Trends and Opportunities

The Institute for Policy and Governance is presently involved in a study to chart major governance trends and opportunities in four small towns in Virginia and West Virginia:  Wytheville, Marion and Pennington Gap in Virginia and Montgomery in West Virginia. The study team, including Institute Director Max Stephenson and Senior Fellow Andrew Morikawa is working with Scott Tate, Assistant Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Economic Development and Sarah Lyon-Hill, a Program Director for that same entity. Other members of the project team include Neda Moayerian PhD candidate, PGG and Maeve Gold, Master’s candidate in Urban and Regional Planning. On Tuesday, August 8th, Max lead a team, including Andy Morikawa and Neda Moayerian to Pennington Gap, Virginia.  During the trip, they toured the town to visit some of the attractions, and assets, such as the RV park, the river and scenic views, the Lee theater and the community center. Afterward they conducted two workshops for the town officials, business leaders and local residents to discuss process and expectations, and to identify opportunities and ways to re imagine their community to become a place to which young people and families would be attracted.

In 30-60 days, a 2nd half-day session will occur to present results from prior discussions, and to engage the participants in identifying tangible action projects.

VTIPG Director Max Stephenson observed recently that this project, “offers a rich opportunity to listen and learn and hopefully thereafter provide leaders in these communities a slate of suggestions that they can consider as they move ahead to try to encourage political and social change as well as economic vitality in their jurisdictions”.