Real Economic Development
“Everything in here has a purpose. Nothing goes to waste.
Luke Huffman is the Property Manager (aka “Head gopher”) at Coalfield Development’s West Edge facility in Huntington. This is economic development.
Coalfield threads together paid job training, economic development, and community college—into a web of social enterprises that offer a second chance to laid off mine workers, young adults looking for a fresh start, and families looking for a steady income.
Inside the West Edge facility, you’ll find a t-shirt enterprise that supplies MLB fans with clothes made from recycled pop bottles (SustainU). You’ll also find a greenhouse that’s part of their agriculture enterprise (Refresh Appalachia). And Luje is standing in front of rescues stained glass that’s part of their crafts and woodworking enterprise (Saw’s Edge).
Next up for this old warehouse are a black box theatre and artist studios.
But when you invest in local people and places, you don’t just get jobs. You get community.
Less than 2 years after Coalfield took over this abandoned warehouse, neighborhood crime had dropped 41 percent. The night we visited, they had let the space out to a huge community arts festival. Big out-of-state companies put a price tag on everything. Local people and businesses achieve things you can’t put a price on.