Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Princeton Times

July 3, 2008

Artists the key to open opportunity

PRINCETON — For decades, coal drove West Virginia, but one group believes talent and innovation are the fuel that could propel the state into a new economy.

As leaders of Create West Virginia visited Princeton last week, they said the growing artistic community, business possibilities and an increasing air of cooperation across city lines were the keys needed to open all kinds of new possibilities.

“This place has so much potential. It’s going to really break through,” Create West Virginia Director Jeff James said, amid the buzz of an enthusiastic crowd gathered at RiffRaff Arts Collective for a day-long summit on how to use talent, education, technology, diversity and quality of place to restore the region’s economy, quality of life and sense of community.

CWV’s goal is pretty simple. It was designed to draw a diverse community of West Virginians together to create a state that thrives on innovation, artistic vision, connectivity, entrepreneurship, and growth.

But, there’s a mission that’s reached the heart of the movement, according to www.createwv.com.

“Our vision is not to try and replicate what others have done. It’s to forge a dynamic, new West Virginia that is rooted in what has always made West Virginia great. It's the combination of the simple beauty of our surroundings and the soulful strength of our unique history with 21st century tools to share our strengths with the world, and to invite them to share with us. It’s about welcoming the new in the context of what's already great about West Virginia. Join the discussion. Share your ideas. Create West Virginia!” the site stated.

Starting out...

While many small cities and towns across the nation are struggling in a sluggish economy and skyrocketing fuel costs, there are also hundreds of communities that are working to find their niche in a world that always changes. Those places have defined their communities, listened to the residents’ and businesses’ needs and found unique ways to accommodate both.

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