Leadership Beckley sessions encourage advocacy together

The Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce just kicked off our ‘23-2’4 cohort for Leadership Beckley.

We’re excited to offer this class each year as it gives new leaders an opportunity to learn about the community, how it works and where it’s going. Each year our goal is to show the new cohort how a thriving community is like a finely tuned ecosystem where each member’s success is interdependent with others. We want our graduates to take their knowledge and their newly formed relationships out into our communities to create prosperity and sustainable growth for our citizens.

What are some of the pivotal ways that we see our new leaders taking action to create this kind of success in our communities?

First, just as Leadership Beckley strives to recruit a diverse class each year, we also strive to teach that exposure to different perspectives, traditions, and ideas foster creativity and innovation, which leads us to economic and social growth.

Another way that our new leaders will learn to take action is through active participation in our local decision-making processes, civic engagement and philanthropy. We teach how local businesses rely on local governments to support the development and maintenance of infrastructure such as transportation, utilities, and communication networks, which are essential for their operations. We expect our graduates to continually advocate for improving infrastructure in order to enhance the quality of life here and encourage economic growth. We also encourage our new graduates to invest in our communities’ well-being by requiring a service project for each class.

State-wide there is a focus on workforce development by way of a strong emphasis on education, training and mentorship. Our lawmakers and leaders realize that we have to stop our young people and their talent from leaving the state. They are already addressing this crisis through more pathways for individuals to learn, grow and use their talents here in West Virginia. We expect our new graduates to collaborate with educators and experienced business leaders to help younger generations see the opportunities that exist here. If we continue to prioritize education and mentorship, we will surely improve and sustain our workforce.

The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority has collaborated with public and private sector entities to create a new economy around the aerospace industry. We want our graduates to understand and advocate for this type of economic development, which creates many new stable jobs and improves living standards and overall community well-being.

Our planning committee has weaved the region’s outdoor economic opportunities into all of the Leadership Beckley sessions for the first time this year. Through the class, we saw an opportunity to educate new leaders on how utilizing our outdoor assets not only opens up recreational opportunities for travelers and residents, but also drives economic opportunities through the creation of new business and industry. Equally important is that we show how our outdoor opportunities extend beyond economics into health care.

Southern West Virginia has the worst health outcomes in the state. Proactive health care initiatives such as supporting trail development in the area to provide accessible outdoor infrastructure for the workforce and community to use has a health benefit. Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, biking five days a week reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. This kind of data shows that building our outdoor economy will not only improve the health outcomes but also the workforce in southern West Virginia.

To ensure a livable and prosperous future, we teach our new leaders how they can work within their industries and businesses to collaborate on sustainability efforts, including reducing environmental impact, adopting renewable energy sources, and implementing eco-friendly practices.

Through Leadership Beckley, collaboration emerges not just as a strategy, but as a fundamental pillar of progress. The power of collective effort, harnessed through effective collaboration, has the potential to shape the future of our region and achieve the greatness that we deserve.


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