Inspiring West Virginian is Inspiring a Revitalization of Historic Railroad Town

Dec 21, 2016

In 1995, when the internet was still in its infancy in terms of use in online commerce, 33-year-old Ken Allman started an online business in his one-bedroom apartment in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Allman, a native of Hinton, WV, designed the business as a link between physicians looking for a new position, and hospitals and other facilities looking for medical staff. 

Entrepreneur and Hinton native Ken Allman is leading the restoration of the historic railroad town.
Credit Jean Snedegar

“Those were the days when not all of us had email.  There was a lot of uncertainty about my ability to make a go of this, and I really didn’t have the financial resources, it was just an idea,” Ken Allman said recently.

Four years later Allman moved the headquarters of his growing business back to his hometown in Summers County, and soon after was employing more than 20 local people.

“Coming back to Hinton allowed me to learn.  It was an inexpensive way to operate an online business in a small town, and I think it was one of the best things I could have ever done.”

Today it’s the nation’s largest online physician job bank.

“PracticeLink is really a very simple business model,” said Allman. “Hospitals, medical groups, healthcare systems, academic institutions, government agencies, the military – they often struggle to get all the physicians they need by specialty, or in quality or in quantity.”

“And so physician recruitment is an important part of healthcare behind the scenes,” he said.

“Ken Allman is a very interesting individual in that he has more ideas in 5 minutes than I’ll have in 5 years,” said Greg Rogers, a Hinton businessman and childhood friend of Allman’s. “His mind is always working.”

“He’s always thinking.  He’s a visionary,” said Rogers. 

In the last couple of years, the entrepreneur, now 54, has expanded his focus to the transformation of downtown Hinton, a town proud of its railroad history.

Together with family, colleagues and local residents, Allman helped lead a restoration of numerous buildings including the local Ritz Theater, and has opened new businesses that cater to both locals and tourists. 

Jack David Woodrum, President of the Summers County Commission, acknowledges that over the years many people have had ideas to redevelop and restore Hinton, but Ken Allman had the money and the heart to do it.

“We’ve been able to do little things on our own,” said Woodrum.  “But what Kenny’s been able to bring to the county, I mean you look around, it looks like you’re looking at a postcard.”

“The facelift that he’s given the town and the inspiration he’s provided to others to do the same has been tremendous,” said Woodrum.

Today Hinton’s Historic District is one of the largest national historic districts for a town its size in the country.

Allman says there’s more to come.

Allman is one of 3 leaders profiled in West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inspiring West Virginians program airing tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 8pm with encore broadcasts Dec. 30 and Jan. 2 at 1pm.