Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great Days in the Neighborhood
A Message from CEO/President Matt Ballard
& Chairman Jack Rossi

More than 400 people chose to spend the morning of April 11, a Saturday, exploring the East End’s Warehouse District. Nine businesses there were offering deals, sales and activities during Warehouse Warm Up, an East End Main Street event that celebrated the Warehouse District and the start of another West Virginia Power baseball season. The Capitol Market was full of children participating in bubble making and art activities provided by the Clay Center. Appalachian Power Park opened its gates and welcomed the public in to enjoy the Fun Zone.

To think: Not long ago, the Warehouse District was dormant and decrepit.

When we talk about building a more vibrant community, we’re referring in large part to the work of EEMS.

We applaud our program director Ric Cavender and the dedicated group of volunteers who work continuously to improve the East End, brightening the area’s atmosphere, shining a spotlight on its creative class and adding to the Kanawha Valley’s overall prosperity.

Warehouse Warm Up, which will be an annual event, is just one cobblestone of Main Street.
More and more residents of and visitors to the East End are enjoying the free East End Wireless system.

EEMS is working to make Charleston a little more green with the growing popularity of its Eco East End initiative. Last year, for example, volunteers passed out energy-efficient light bulbs during a Power game and partnered with six different environmental groups and agencies across the city and state to further educate Charleston on how easy it can be to be green.

The LemonAID project, meanwhile, targets homes slated for demolition and sells valuable items in the house – such as fixtures and doors – at very reasonable prices. It illustrates the virtues of historic preservation and is an effective version of reuse and recycling.

The program also works to help East End businesses grow and prosper. For instance, EEMS is partnering with the University of Charleston Executive MBA program to provide all East End businesses a full professional business plan assessment at no cost to the businesses. Students choose area businesses and perform thorough assessments from top to bottom. They prepare reports that include suggestions on how to improve efficiency and better control their budgets. EEMS plans to provide the program a list of businesses willing to participate.

EEMS works to make the community feel more like, well, a community. Its annual Garden Showcase (June 13-28) and Yard Sale (May 9) are just a few ways the program brings people together. And the upcoming and unprecedented StreetWorks project will turn Washington Street into an art gallery during FestivALL and beyond.

The façade grant program of the Alliance and EEMS has improved the aesthetics of the East End traveling from the Capital street toward the heart of downtown. We said we would do it, and we executed that plan.

Most importantly, EEMS asks East End residents to invest in their community. When people care about their neighborhood, that neighborhood thrives. We’re proud to be a part of this thriving community. The best is yet to come.


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