Appalachian Innovators

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

It isn’t news that Appalachia is struggling economically. If you’ve followed the boom-bust cycle of the coal industry, you know that we’ve been here before. 

Touchstone Research Lab

Brian Joseph from Ohio County, West Virginia, has dedicated his professional life to innovation, reimagining and retooling old materials in the region with new technologies. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we conclude our series Appalachia Innovators with a story about an entrepreneur from Ohio County who has dedicated his professional life to re-imagining and retooling old materials in the region with new technologies. Glynis Board reports.

John Nakashima/ WVPB

On a recent weekday, in a renovated building in downtown Huntington, 22-year-old Jacob Howell was among 20 people working at a laptop in a sunlit office. Senior web developers sat shoulder-to-shoulder with new employees at long tables. There wasn’t a cubicle in sight.


 

Howell, a Hurricane native, wasn’t sure where he might end up after graduating last year from Marshall University.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, people are leaving West Virginia at an alarming rate. From 2016 to 2017, more than 15,000 people left the state, or about 41 people per day. This trend is putting a strain on local businesses, making it tough for employers to find skilled, educated workers. As part of our Appalachian Innovators Series, Roxy Todd has the story of one organization that is trying to tackle this problem in a new way.

Pa. Trail Initiative Could Provide Roadmap for Some Struggling W.Va. Towns

Feb 7, 2018
The West Newton, Pa., rail trail.
Photo courtesy of The Trail Town Program

There’s a national storyline that’s told about parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It goes something like this: As the steel and coal industries fade, small towns are dying out. Young people move away because there’s a lack of jobs.

But for the past 20 years, some entrepreneurs have quietly been working on a different narrative -- one that harnesses the region’s natural beauty to build the economy. Their slow climb is starting to bear real fruit.

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

When you picture the Appalachian Coalfields, you might think of those scenic photographs of mist rising from the mountains. But there are the less picturesque landscapes too -- views of mountaintops that have been stripped away from coal mining. Imagine if these barren landscapes were covered with purple fields of lavender.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we begin a new series of stories called Appalachian Innovators. When you think of Appalachian coalfields, images of stripped mountaintops might spring to mind. But what if these barren landscapes were covered with purple fields of lavender? Some people in West Virginia think lavender could give the state’s struggling economy a boost. Roxy Todd has the story.