Trey Kay, Eric Molinsky Published

Upriver Battle: Two Mayors Join Forces to Revive Their Rural Small Towns Against All Odds


Appalachia is a unique region of the country. Its namesake mountain range boasts a tangle of thick forests where the economy has relied on forestry, manufacturing and mining for jobs. The Kanawha River winds through West Virginia upstream from Charleston and was once a hotbed of mining operations and chemical plants.


But these prime economic movers washed away in what two local mayors describe as an “economic tsunami.” At a time when the world is concerned with a virus that has killed people and created economic turmoil, Trey revisits a part of his home state that’s familiar with uncertainty. But it’s a place where the people find ways to keep going. He speaks with local politicians from one of the nation’s most rural states, who are looking to reshape the local economy one business at a time.


This corridor is home to a ribbon of small cities and towns where people work hard to attract outside investment. That’s paying off with new ventures that are putting some people back to work.


This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Humanities Council.

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