GLENVILLE, WV – Glenville State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials met with community leaders and lawmakers on Wednesday to launch the West Virginia Pioneer Community Network and discuss what this new resource means for rural and underserved areas within central West Virginia. The West Virginia Pioneer Community Network is hosted by Glenville State University and will serve Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer, Nicholas, Roane, Webster, and Wirt counties.
The initiative is part of an expansion of the Rural Partners Network (RPN), a program of USDA.
Stakeholders from several of the communities included in the West Virginia Pioneer Community Network joined representatives from USDA Rural Development, Glenville State University, the West Virginia Legislature, the Region IV Planning and Development Council, and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s Economic Development Office at the launch meeting.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Dr. Manchin and his team at Glenville State University on this exciting initiative. The goal of the Rural Partners Network is to ensure that rural communities have the opportunity to succeed and that the people that live in rural communities, more than 86,000 within these eight counties, have an opportunity to not just survive – but thrive. When rural communities succeed, West Virginia succeeds, when West Virginia succeeds, our Nation succeeds and by continuing to work together, West Virginia will continue to prosper,” said USDA Rural Development State Director, Ryan Thorn.
“Glenville State University is honored to be taking a lead in helping bring resources to central West Virginia through the West Virginia Pioneer Community Network as part of the Rural Partners Network. Working collaboratively with our alumni, friends, and neighbors within the eight-county region, we see this project being very impactful for all those involved,” said Glenville State University President, Dr. Mark A. Manchin.
“What is particularly interesting to me as a resident of central West Virginia and as a representative of not just Gilmer County but of three counties in central West Virginia, is that we now have a way for the federal government and all of its resources to get a focus on the central part of the state. Ours is a part of the state and the Appalachian region that often gets overlooked, so this is an exciting announcement. I want to be involved in this going forward and look forward to seeing the big role that Glenville State University will play in it,” said Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay).
As a part of the RPN, the West Virginia Pioneer Community Network will receive on-the-ground support from full-time federal staff members assigned to provide technical assistance tailored to the community’s unique needs and objectives. These USDA Rural Development staff members will help rural communities navigate federal programs, build relationships and identify community-driven solutions, and develop successful applications for funding.
The USDA-led Rural Partners Network is an all-of-government program that partners with rural people to access resources and funding to create local jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability.