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Small Communities Big Solutions

Each year, the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, the West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development team up to shine a spotlight on West Virginia, by hosting the Small Communities, BIG Solutions Conference. This event showcases all the successes and highlights what is working across the state. Each year a mix of community leaders, educators, businesses and public officials come together to network, share ideas and learn what is working well in our state. With a sold-out crowd each year and overwhelmingly positive feedback from our attendees, we are excited to celebrate the sixth-year anniversary of the Small Communities, BIG Solutions Conference! Learn more about SCBS here.


2023 Speakers

Emily Brammer

Grant Writer,
WV Grant Resource Centers

Morgan Saunders

WV Grant Resource Centers

Ryan Thorn


Bill Bissett

State Director,
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s Office

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director,
WV Community Development Hub

Brandon Dennsion

Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development,
Marshall University

Dr. James Nemitz

President of WVSOM

Scott Adkins

Workforce WV Commissioner

Heather Stephens, Ph.D

Regional Research Institute

Senator Joe Manchin

United States Senator (WV)

Senator Shelley Moore Capito

United States Senator (WV)

Susie Mullens

WVCRN Program Director,

Jeremy Truman


Phil Shimer

Amy Saunders

Managing Director,
Marshall Center of Excellence for Recovery, MURC

Beverly Sharp

Executive Director,
REACH Initiative

Marie Bechtel

Terri Baker

Workforce and Strategic Partnerships Manager,
Center for Rural and Community Health,

Haylee Heinsberg

Dara Vance

Behavioral Health Navigator,
Robert C. Byrd Clinic

Andrew Bailes

Tameran Asbury

Program Director/Care Manager/Therapist,
Drug Free Moms and Babies Project

Rev. Stephen Baldwin Jr.

Michelle Taylor

Julia Spears

Richie Heath

Bowles Rice LLP

Speaker Roger Hanshaw

Delegate Shawn Hornbuckle

Senator Mike Maroney

Senator Jack Woodrum

Andrew Dawson

Market President,
United Bank

Marilyn Wrenn

Chief Program Officer,
Coalfield Development Corporation

Kelli Crabtree

Chief Human Development Officer,
Coalfield Development Corporation

Dave Lavender

Apprenticeships and Film,
WV Department of Economic Development

Carol Ann Howerton

Director for Workforce Development,
Marshall Advanced Manufacturing Center

Josiah Hannah

Resource Navigation Coach,
Coalfield Development Corporation

Olivia McCuskey

Dr. Jeffery Hunter

Charlotte Web

Brittany Masters

Executive Director,
Communities In Schools of Greenbrier County

Philip Lewis

Director of Career Services,
Concord University

Jenna Vanhoose

Workforce Development Manager,
Mountwest Community & Technical College

Sarah Riley

Executive Director,
High Rocks

2023 Conference Planning Committee

Name Company/Organization Title
Maddie Knight The Alliance Career Navigator
Paige Reger The Alliance Industry Engagement Coordinator
Dan Fitzpatrick Concord University VP and Chief Operating Officer
Bryan Phillips West Virginia Community Development Hub Policy Engagement Coordinator
Lauren Kemp RenewAll Executive Director
Tiffany Ellis-Williams Council for Community & Technical College Education Director, Workforce and Economic Development
Tori Taylor New River Community & Technical College Campus Director & Community Outreach
Dr. Michelle Taylor Bluefield State University Associate Professor of Business
Gail Carter University of Charleston VP of University Development
Terri Baker West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine – Center for Rural and Community Health Workforce & Strategic Partnership Manager
Morgan Saunders West Virginia Grant Resource Centers Co Director
Susie Mullens MURC/WV Collegiate Recovery Network, Marshall University Center of Excellence for Recovery Program Director
H.Toney Stroud, Esq. Marshall University Chief Legal Officers, VP Strategic Initiatives and Corporate Relations
Stephanie Tyree WV Community Development Hub Executive Director
Carla Blankenbuehler BridgeValley Community and Technical College Interim Director of Student Services
Andrew Sulgit Concord University Government Relations and Grants

Developing Your Budget and Budget Narrative

Aug 03, 2023 (12:00 PM) - Aug 03, 2023 (1:00 PM)

Developing Your Budget and Budget Narrative

Aug 03, 2023 (12:00 PM) - Aug 03, 2023 (1:00 PM)

Developing Your Budget and Budget Narrative

Aug 03, 2023 (12:00 PM) - Aug 03, 2023 (1:00 PM)

Maximizing Sustainability

Aug 22, 2023 (7:00 PM) - Aug 22, 2023 (8:00 PM)

Maximizing Sustainability

Aug 22, 2023 (7:00 PM) - Aug 22, 2023 (8:00 PM)

Maximizing Sustainability

Aug 22, 2023 (7:00 PM) - Aug 22, 2023 (8:00 PM)

Event Schedule

  • 10:15 – 12:00 p.m.
    • High Rocks Tour (Meet at WVSOM and walk over) 
      • Experience the High Rocks transformative social enterprises and workforce development programs—the Hub, Cafe and Tech Express, and tour the Lee Street Artist Studios and Complex redevelopment project before the conference! 
  • 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.
    • Registration  
  • 12:20
    • Welcome  
      •  Brandon Dennison 
  •  West Virginia Grant Resource Centers Training 
    • Moderators: Emily Bammer, Morgan Saunders 
  • 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
    • West Virginia Grant Resource Centers Overview 
  • 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
    • Seeking and Finding Grants + Q&A 
  • 10 Minute Break 
  • 1:40 – 2:10 p.m.
    • Writing a Strong Grant Proposal + Q&A 
  • 2:10 – 2:40 p.m.
    • Building and Maximizing Community Partnerships + Q&A
    • 10 Minute Break 
  • 2:50 – 3:20 p.m.
    • Developing a Budget and Budget Narrative + Q&A
  • 3:20 – 3:50 p.m.
    • Identifying Matching Funds + Maximizing Sustainability+ Q&A
    • 10 Minute Break 
  • 4:00 – 4:30 p.m.
    • Drafting a Compelling Letter of Intent + Thinking Like a Reviewer + Q&A
  • 4:30 – 5:00 p.m.
    • Networking 
  • 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
    • Dinner Buffet 
  • 5:15 p.m.
    • Update on Rural Partners Network (RPN) 
      •  Ryan Thorn, USDA  
  • 5:30 p.m.
  • Aligning Higher Education for the Workforce of Tomorrow: Strategies and  Partnerships for Economic Growth 
    • Moderator: Bill Bissett, State Director, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s Office
    • Panelists: President Kendra Boggess, President Ericke Cage, President Bonny Copenhaver, President James Nemitz, President Casey Sacks, President Brad Smith, President Ramon Stuart 
  • 6:30 p.m.
    • Depart 
  • 8:00 to 3:00 p.m.
    • Registration 
  • 8:00 a.m.
    • Breakfast and Networking  
  • 9:00 a.m.
    • Welcome/The Day Ahead 
      • Stephanie Tyree 
      • Coalfield Representative  
      • Brandon Dennison 
    • Remarks: Dr. James Nemitz, President, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine 
      • State Workforce Update 
  • 9:20 a.m.
    • Scott Adkins, Workforce WV Commissioner 
    • Dr. Heather Stephens, WVU (Labor force participation)  
      • Congressional Update 
  • 10:00 a.m.
    • U.S. Senator Joe Manchin  
    • U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito    
      • Congressional Representatives  
  • 11:00 a.m.
    • Breakout Sessions 
      • Breakout Session 1: Addiction, Recovery and Reentry  
        • Moderator: Susan Mullens 
        • Panelists: Jeremy Truman, Phil Shimer, Amy Saunders, Beverly Sharp, Marie Bechtel 
      • Breakout Session 2: Health Sector Workforce  
        • Moderator: Terri Baker 
        • Panelists: Haylee Heinsberg, Dara Vance, Andrew Bailes, Tameran Asbury, Rev. Stephen Baldwin Jr.  
      • Breakout Session 3: Lifelong Learning and Continuous Development – Generations and Demographics  
        • Moderator: Dr. Michelle Taylor  
      •  Breakout Session 4: Tech and Workforce Development
        • Moderator: Brandon Dennison 
        • Panelists: Alex Weld, Julia Spears 
  • 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
    • Lunch 
  • 1:00 – 1:40 p.m.
    • Legislative Lookahead: Anticipating Policy Priorities Richie Heath, Bowles Rice LLP  
    • Speaker Roger Hanshaw, WV House of Delegates  
    • Delegate Shawn Hornbuckle, WV House of Delegates 
    • Senator Mike Maroney, WV State Senate 
    • Senator Jack Woodrum, WV State Senate 
  • 1:45 p.m.
    • Premier Sponsor: Andrew Dawson, Market President, United Bank
  • 2:00 p.m.
    • West Virginia’s Trailblazers: Celebrating Success Stories  
    • Power of Performance Awards 
    • Small Communities, BIG Solutions Advocate 2023 
      • Presented by: Stephanie Tyree, The HUB  
  • 2:30 p.m.
    • Breakout Sessions 
      • Breakout Session 4: Benefits Cliff 
        • Moderator: Marilyn Wrenn 
        • Panelists: Josiah Hannah, Kelli Crabtree, Sarah Bryan, Opal Collinsworth 
      • Breakout Session 5: Apprenticeships  
        • Moderator: Dave Lavender 
        • Panelists: Carol Ann Howerton, Olivia McCuskey, Dr. Jeff Hunter, Charlotte Web 
      • Breakout Session 6: Utilizing the Student Workforce 
        • Moderator: Brittany Masters 
        • Panelists: Philip Lewis, Jenna Vanhoose, Sarah Riley 
  • 4:00 p.m.
    • Closing Remarks  
  • 4:15 p.m.
    • ACT Now Meeting

Ticket Pricing


  • Nov. 8


  • Nov. 9


  • Nov. 9
    (only for
    ACT Now members)

2023 Sponsors

A special thanks to our past sponsors for helping us shine a spotlight on our West Virginia communities.

Past Sponsors

A special thanks to our past sponsors for helping us shine a spotlight on our West Virginia communities.