ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — Mayor Jerry Marco was selected for the Champions Institute in 2021 out of 20 leaders across the nation for a six-month program where he learned about community and economic development.

From the program, Marco came up with a project, which was one of the top four projects selected for technical assistance.

A group from Smart Growth America (SGA) has spent some time in Elkins the past couple of days to talk about what they could do for the city, and make recommendations for economic growth and the future.

SGA facilitated a series of conversations and activities during a working session on Oct. 25 to understand their goals for the community and how they can achieve them.

“What is important is we don’t come with the answers for you, we work with you so that you can develop the answers because this city is not my hometown, it’s your hometown, and you hold the key, you know it better than anyone else, hopefully, we can expand your vision of what’s possible,” said John Robert Smith, Smart Growth America senior policy advisor.

The session included conversations about the current development patterns, the fiscal health of our community, and what is possible for the future. SGA is working to understand the goals of the community of Elkins, and how they can help achieve them.

“We’re blessed to have them here. It’s an opportunity for us to get our community leaders together, and sit down and say okay you’re invested in our community, we have folks from the outside coming in and giving recommendations, they want to have your input as well, because you live here every day, so it’s been fantastic, it’s been dynamic conversation so far, and we’re excited for the future of Elkins right now,” said Mayor Jerry Marco, City of Elkins.

Officials said the input of participants will directly influence future planning efforts and the direction of future investments in the city of Elkins.