How to Put Coalfield Workers Back to Work

Oct 27, 2017

Brandon Dennison of Coalfield Development Corporation has an ambitious goal - reinvent the Appalachian economy from the ground up

"Jobs aren't a silver bullet," says Coalfield Development Corporation CEO Brandon Dennison.

But they are a good start.

Dennison's social enterprise has helped 100 percent of its first 30 graduates find employment or further their education. Now, it's hoping to repeat that success with 50 employees.

Meanwhile, the larger goal is ambitious - to reinvent the Appalachian economy from the ground up, through sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, renovating buildings and restoring former mine lands.

These enterprises earn some money, raise more and receive some from government grants.

Dennison thinks this is a model for development throughout Appalachia. But it takes a lot of mentoring to help employees overcome childhood trauma and keep their jobs.

On the Front Porch, we ask if it can it become more than a pilot program.

Welcome to “The Front Porch,” where we tackle the tough issues facing Appalachia the same way you talk with your friends on the porch.

Hosts include WVPB Executive Director and recovering reporter Scott Finn and avid goat herder Rick Wilson, who works for the American Friends Service Committee.

An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available at wvpublic.org and as a podcast as well.

Share your opinions with us about these issues, and let us know what you'd like us to discuss in the future. Send a tweet to @radiofinn or @wvpublicnews, or e-mail Scott at sfinn @ wvpublic.org

The Front Porch is underwritten by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston Gazette-Mail. Find the latest news, traffic and weather on its CGM App. Download it in your app store, and check out its website: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/