The City of Huntington is proud to unveil its community revitalization plan, which has propelled it into the finals of the America's Best Communities competition.
Dubbed the Huntington Innovation Project (HIP), this revitalization plan will transform neighborhoods and blighted spaces where the old manufacturing and coal-sector economy has declined into hip hubs for advanced making, innovative manufacturing and healthy community improvements -- all connected by high-speed broadband. Huntington will spark this revitalization through key initiatives in its three most distressed neighborhoods – the West End, Fairfield and Highlawn.
The West End will be revived through its “River-to-Rail Revitalization” initiative. This will be supported by the innovative social enterprise project at the WestEdge Factory, which will put dislocated workers into new, highly-skilled jobs through a solar-training institute, craft furniture-making operation and other job-training programs. Surrounding the WestEdge Factory, Huntington will foster the transformation of vacant properties with commercial jobs sparked by a new intermodal freight center called the Heartland Intermodal Gateway. Along with this new economic development, Huntington will revitalize traditional neighborhoods with healthy-food initiatives at The Wild Ramp and Central City Farmer’s Market; modern housing; and main street renewal along 14th Street West.
In Fairfield, there will be an expansion of a healthy innovation corridor to boost health care jobs and healthy community designs along the city’s main artery into the downtown, Hal Greer Boulevard. This corridor will spring from the regional medical anchors Cabell Huntington Hospital, St. Mary’s Medical Center, the Center for Rural Health and the Marshall University Medical School.
In Highlawn, the City of Huntington received three EPA grants totaling $600,000 to assess “brownfield” properties that may have been adversely affected by petroleum and other hazardous substances and to conduct a market-analysis study that will evaluate varying types of redevelopment opportunities. A reuse plan, which will be completed by early 2017, will lay out a vision that could include research and development facilities, retail, recreational trails, riverfront redevelopment and storm water improvements.
This trio of initiatives will be connected by the deployment of high-speed broadbandthrough Huntington's "Gigabit City" initiative. Together, they will renew our community, create job opportunities, enhance sustainability and be a gateway of revitalization for the Tri-State and Appalachian region.
This plan was submitted in November 2015 to the America’s Best Communities competition. Huntington is now one of eight finalists in the nationwide competition, which is sponsored by Frontier Commuinications, The Weather Channel, DISH and CoBank.
America’s Best Communities is a multi-stage competition that will provide seed money and other support to assist small communities as they develop new economic growth strategies. The top three communities — those with the most innovative proposals being effectively implemented — will share a total of $6 million in prize money. The winning communities will be announced in March 2017 and will be awarded $3 million for first place, $2 million for second place and $1 million for third.
For more information about the competition, go to www.americasbestcommunities.com.