Twenty-twenty-one was a historic year, to say the least.
Over the last twelve months, we’ve continued to work toward finding a new “normal” while adapting to life and business amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Though 2021 was a year that challenged us in unexpected ways, it was also a year in which we celebrated many victories, both big and small.
This year marked 20 years of service for Christy Laxton, executive director of the Wyoming County Economic Development Authority, and Laura Roberts-Lambert, loans and operations manager. Throughout their time at the EDA, Laura and Christy have strategically paved the way for new and existing businesses to thrive in our county and across the Mountain State.
It also marked the 20-year anniversary of the launch of our microlending program, which was created in response to the historic floods of 2001 that devastated our region, our businesses, and our people. In the years that followed, the microloan program has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs and businesses across the Mountain State, providing more than 430 loans and $11.1 million in overall funds.
Additional federal resources provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission have also enabled the EDA to offer special COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loans for small businesses who have been affected by the pandemic. So far, more than 60 COVID-19 relief loans — totaling $1.2 million — have been secured for businesses in West Virginia.
As we enter a new chapter, we’re looking back on some of the accomplishments and milestones that have taken place in yet another unprecedented year.
Scholarships, contests assist Wyoming Co. students’ educational and technical pursuits
This year marked the 11th year of the Wyoming County Community Fund scholarship program, through which they support one Wyoming County student or adult pursuing higher education or technical certifications. Hannah Bailey, of Westside High School, was selected as this year’s recipient.
Hannah plans to utilize scholarship funds to pursue her basics at Southern WV Community and Technical College in 2022 to then go on to earn a nursing degree and become the first college graduate in her family.
Below, we’ve highlighted the stories from three previous recipients who describe the scholarship’s impact on their lives and educational pursuits.
In this spotlight, recipient Bridget Browning discusses her pursuit of science-oriented degrees and talks about the importance of the scholarship’s age inclusivity. Bridget was 40 the year she was selected for the scholarship.
“I knew that this was my chance to enroll and make it happen,” Bridget said.
Here, recipients Kandice Bradford-Hatfield and Kelsey Mills describe the scholarship’s impact on their finances, stress levels, and workloads.
“The scholarship lifted so much weight off my shoulders and put me at ease that I could — and would — successfully complete this chapter towards obtaining my license,” Kandice said. “As many know, nursing school is not easy, and paying for it is no walk in the park either.”
To fund the scholarship, we kicked off another year of fundraising efforts by hosting a yearlong cash calendar in place of our annual community bingo night. For $25 per ticket, participants could be entered to win cash prizes throughout 2021. All drawings took place on each major holiday.
The annual Wyoming County Writing Contest also awarded cash prizes to elementary, middle, high school, and adult winners who submitted original essays on various facets of Wyoming County’s history and culture.
John D. Rockefeller IV Industrial Park Development
After much anticipation, the Wyoming County EDA’s board announced their selection of E.T. Boggess as the engineering firm who would be tasked with carrying out preliminary tasks, design, construction, bidding, contracting, and preparing the industrial park expansion. E.T. Boggess was selected out of five firms who applied to be involved with the potential development.
Once tenants, grants, and/or loans have been secured by the EDA, the project will result in the construction of a 15,000 square-foot facility created for one business that will create new jobs throughout our community.
Laxton featured in WV Business Link
Executive Director Christy Laxton had the privilege of hosting November’s guest column on WV Business Link. In “Using Business Loans to Your Advantage,” Christy broke down the basics of loan security and shared her invaluable advice and guidance for new and existing businesses as they plan for current and future development. Read her full piece here.