Year-long Community Building Initiative Kicks Off
Beckley, WV – February 4, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — The Blueprint Communities initiative, delivered to 10 West Virginia communities by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh (FHLBank) in 2007, is coming back to the Mountain State in 2013.
On Monday, February 4, six communities officially became Blueprint Communities at the 2013 Blueprint Summit at Tamarack in Beckley. The communities of Bluefield, Hinton, Marlinton, Princeton, Richwood and Sophia were selected to participate in the initiative.
Blueprint Communities provides a dynamic interactive curriculum that will help Blueprint teams assess the status of their communities, develop consensus about their aspirations, and create a plan for achieving those aspirations. The initiative also connects the community teams with a wide range of service providers and helps open the door to additional in-kind and financial assistance as the program progresses throughout the year and beyond.
The Blueprint Summit at Tamarack brought together team members, community development stakeholders and dignitaries to celebrate the six communities and their commitment to positive change. An afternoon orientation session gave community teams a chance to meet their Community Performance Coach, who will assist them through the Blueprint initiative.
John Bendel, Director of Community Investment for FHLBank Pittsburgh, believes Blueprint Communities is a sound investment.
“Investing in Blueprint, which builds leadership capacity and fosters sound local planning, prepares communities for growth and development. It is a perfect complement to the work that FHLBank and our local member partners do every day,” Bendel said. “Blueprint helps lay the foundation for communities that embrace it. When they do, our collective investment multiplies into housing, jobs and improvements to quality of life.”
The local bank partners in the 2013 Bluefield Communities initiatives are: Bluefield – First Century Bank; Hinton – City National Bank; Marlinton – Pendleton Community Bank; Princeton – City National Bank; Richwood – United Bank; Sophia – Pioneer Community Bank.
FHLBank, a government-sponsored financial institution cooperative, developed Blueprint Communities as a revitalization catalyst and leadership development initiative to help create sustainable communities in West Virginia. Since Blueprint Communities was introduced to the state in 2007, local team leaders report that 19 housing projects, 35 new or expanded businesses, 25 infrastructure projects and 32 other projects have been completed or are under way. Total public/private funding for these projects stands at $28.3 million. FHLBank also launched Blueprint Communities initiatives in Pennsylvania in 2005 and Delaware in 2008, investing a total of approximately $1 million. That investment leveraged more than $122 million in public and private investment in a wide variety of community development projects, including housing, infrastructure, business development and more.
Partnering with FHLBank in designing and delivering Blueprint Communities are the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Community Development Hub. Mary Hunt-Lieving, Senior Program Officer for the Benedum Foundation, said Blueprint is a perfect way to engage local leadership teams in a system of community improvement.
“The Benedum Foundation believes in making its community development investments in a strategic way so that our funds leverage additional investments that help make community improvement efforts sustainable,” Hunt said. “Blueprint Communities brings communities into a system that connects them with a wide variety of other opportunities and assistance so they can continue to improve.”
The initiative focuses on building a diverse, collaborative team of community members representing local government, businesses, nonprofit organizations, community development groups, local media and educational institutions committed to improving their communities. Among the team’s goals: stimulate community participation, help provide guidance in decision-making, and help establish a baseline for decisions that consider the community as a whole. The selected Blueprint teams will engage the broader community in identifying assets, reaching consensus on aspirations, and developing comprehensive plans for short-term and long-term community improvement projects.
Ray Moeller, member of Richwood’s Blueprint Team, had this to say about the program: “Through this initiative, the City of Richwood will receive valuable revitalization technical assistance and coaching throughout 2013. As the team receives technical training, the intent is to cycle this knowledge and expertise back to the city to achieve lasting success.”
Jim Ferguson of the Bluefield team noted, “Blueprint Communities is a perfect example of how local government can team up with homeowners, businesses and other community leaders to create lasting and constructive change in the City of Bluefield and throughout West Virginia.”
“Blueprint Communities was without a doubt the best thing the City of Shinnston ever did,” remarked City Manager Deb Herndon. “Even six years later, I can lay most of our successes directly at the feet of this program.”
For more information on the 2013 Blueprint Communities initiative, contact Kent Spellman (k.spellman (at) wvhub (dot) org) or Andrea Salina (a.salina (at) wvhub (dot) org) at the WV Community Development Hub, or call 304.566.7332.
Andrea Salina, WV Community Development Hub
(304) 566-7332, a.salina (at) wvhub (dot) org