Why I'm Going to the Create WV Conference
There are only 278 miles between my family’s homestead in Bradshaw WV, and the first city I lived
in after college - Raleigh, NC. At first glance, however, the two places seem more like worlds away. Bradshaw is more than an hour’s drive from the closest interstate and, to no one’s surprise, today few of its working citizens can imagine a career involving something outside of the coal industry. The Raleigh-Durham area has an international airport, a plethora of operations from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses to venture-backed startups, and more than 1.2 million people -- making it one of the 10 fastest growing urban areas in the nation, according to CNN Money.
But the gap is narrowing. The area around Bradshaw is starting to receive high-speed broadband Internet access, and last year students received iPads and laptops. These are the tools fueling young minds with energy and inspiration, enabling Southern West Virginia youth to have a brighter future in a globally competitive world. Still, however, the message that most adults in the community send to their children is “leave if you want to succeed,” as one can see first-hand from my cousin Josh Clevinger in this excerpt in the Emmy-nominated film Hollow.
I’m going to the Create West Virginia conference for Josh. I’m going to represent McDowell County, where perhaps West Virginia’s brain drain epidemic has hit the hardest. From 2010 to 2012, I experienced living in a modern metropolitan area. I observed close collaboration between multiple individuals and organizations uniting for a common goal. I attended events focused on entrepreneurship and emerging technologies, and got to know a wide range of people from many different backgrounds aspiring to obtain their dreams. I remember the pulse of life in the big city. But I also remember its urban drawbacks, from bottlenecked highways to overpriced, manufactured, and soulless subdivisions. Since then, I’ve realized how much potential a place like McDowell County can actually have.
Create West Virginia is for people who want to see West Virginia thrive. I am looking forward to the crisp beginnings of building new relationships, to siphon creativity from others’ imaginations, and to learn from the fantastic array of speakers and presentations highlighting what’s possible and already happening in our great mountain state. Register now!
Nathan Acosta serves on the Create WV Board of Advisors and is a member of the Reconnecting McDowell Jobs & Economic Development Committee, the McDowell Economic Development Authority Council, and a member of the McDowell County Chamber of Commerce. Nathan is an administrator of the McDowell County Community Initiatives Facebook Group, a growing grassroots community of nearly 600 McDowell Countians who propose innovative solutions. Prior to recently relocating to Charleston, Nathan helped lead McDowell CHOICES, a county-wide physical activity initiative in McDowell County, where he was honored in the West Virginia University “Climbing Higher” employee recognition program. Follow Nathan on Twitter @Nateen87.