ELKINS, W.Va. – Business owners, economic officials, and city representatives gathered at Davis and Elkins College Thursday morning for a Vibrant Conversation, a discussion on ways to help grow Elkins and Randolph County. The discussion was helmed by Quint Studer, the head of Vibrant Community Partners, who has worked with cities all over the country to do the same thing. He said Elkins has some work to do, but has made a good start.
“Probably the biggest thing they have going for them is that they understand and want to get better. I think they have to measure better with objective measurement, they have to make sure their kids are ready for kindergarten, and still have to look at that downtown and figure out how to fill those empty spaces and with things that are going to bring people downtown of all ages,” Studer said.
Studer said there are many things to do that can help attract people to a city, and not all are large shifts and changes. He said there’s one thing that small communities need to answer when it comes to their biggest export around the country.
“How do you keep your young talent home? Because for years, small and mid-size communities have been exporting talent to big cities, and it’s all about talent today. So I think this is the chance where they can bring talent back, because a lot of the big cities aren’t affordable anymore. Small communities are affordable, but you still have to give opportunity and vibrancy,” said Studer.
A delegation from the city government was also on hand for the meeting, including Mayor Van Broughton. He said there’s a lot that he’s already taken just from the early discussions, and expects to see some strategies get put into use.
“There will be some notes taken out of these meetings, and it will be discussed, and each meeting might have a topic on this, or a topic on that. And you know, you take it one step at a time, you build from it and you move forward,” Broughton said.