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Huntington delegation to attend housing seminar at Harvard Law School

HUNTINGTON – A delegation of public officials and community leaders from Huntington has been selected to attend a prestigious housing seminar that equips civic leaders with the skills they need to tackle urban blight and spark revitalization.

The Community Progress Leadership Institute, a program of the Center for Community Progress, will be held March 18-21 at Harvard Law School. The Institute brings together delegations from multiple cities for intense leadership and technical training under the guidance of national experts. These delegations return home ready to make positive changes in their approaches to vacant, abandoned and problem properties.

Joining Huntington at the CPLI will be Wilmington, Del.; Springfield, Mass.; Battle Creek, Mich.; Jackson, Miss.; Oklahoma City, Detroit; and Milwaukee. The cities were chosen through an invitation-only, comprehensive application process. They were also selected because they were able to demonstrate strong leadership and a commitment to developing new solutions for blight.

“When these eight teams enter the CPLI classroom on the first day, their stories will illuminate how blight is impacting communities across the United States,” said Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “And when they head back home, there will be a new chapter to write: how they’re part of a national movement to reclaim our communities, a movement that is forging new connections and sparking fresh ideas.”

Huntington created West Virginia’s first Land Bank Fast Track Authority in 2009 to take control of dilapidated, tax-delinquent properties and return them to productive use. It also used home rule legislation to ensure insurance proceeds are used to remove fire-burnt structures.

“Certainly, we’re proud our efforts are being recognized by a program of such national stature,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “But, more importantly, we’re looking forward to what we can learn from our colleagues in other cities that have been chosen. Since I was elected, I’ve been saying that Huntington must compete on a national stage. This is another example that we are beginning to see those fruits.”

Members of the delegation will include:

  • Cathy Burns, president and CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce.
  • Bruce Decker, founder and owner of Collective Impact, a capacity-building consulting firm.
  • Brandon Dennison, a social entrepreneur with the Coalfield Development Corp., which focuses on sustainable deconstruction of abandoned buildings.
  • Larry Ellis, deputy director of the Huntington Housing Authority
  • Charles Holley, director of development and planning for the City of Huntington.
  • Phoebe Patton Randolph, an architect with Edward Tucker Architects and an active community organizer.
  • Christal Perry, project manager and chief administrator of the Huntington Urban Renewal Authority.

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