Briana Heaney Published

Two W.Va. Towns Plan To Capitalize On The Next Boom (er’s)

Male doctor examining the patient chest x-ray film of a lung scan at a radiology department in a hospital.
National group Dynamics Advisors is working with Smithers and Montgomer to make it a health care destination for aging boomers.
Soloviova Liudmyla/Adobe Stock

Located along the Kanawha River, 10 miles downstream of the confluence of the Gauley and the New River sits Montgomery and Smithers. The towns have been disinvested over the years as educational institutions moved out, and coal mines closed. 

There are multiple pre-existing initiatives to expand the local economies, which have been independently working to develop things like tourism, health care and housing. 

Now those initiatives have come together under the direction of the national group Dynamics Advisors. The president and CEO of the group, Scott Keller, said the goal is to make a health care centered model that provides jobs for working age individuals and health care for an aging population. 

“The idea is that a senior can be in, or come to this community, and age in place,” Keller said. 

To do that he said there needs to be a labor force that can take care of that aging population. For that, he said, you need housing, recreation, and other things to support that working population. 

“In this country, we need to train a whole new generation of health care workers to take care of seniors. And so that is the other idea that is workforce housing, affordable associated with that,” Keller said. 

He said this will position the localities for the wave of baby boomers who will be relying on a robust health care industry. 

“This strategy will help them build their niche in the global United States economy in terms of how it thrives into the future,” Keller said. 

The group said Montgomery and Smithers are ideal places to implement this plan due to its affordable housing and proximity to both Charleston and the New River Gorge.