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HUNTINGTON — Each year, the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, the West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development team up by hosting the Small Communities, Big Solutions Conference, which allows people to connect, network and share best practices.

This year, five days of virtual programming have been organized for the third annual event. From Nov. 16 to Nov. 19, federal, state and local leaders will discuss workforce development; broadband; education; COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on the local level; community revitalization; prevention, addiction, recovery and reentry; diversity and inclusion; and leadership and other topics.

In addition, a new conference track — the #WVSolutions Seekers Student Leadership Conference on Thursday, Nov. 20 — will be geared toward high school and college students.

“For two years in a row, we have had such great conversations and packed crowds for the Small Communities, Big Solutions Conference and while 2020 has presented us with challenges from uniting in person, it is essential that we continue the dialogue and connect West Virginians on our successes and receive updates from our state’s top leaders,” Sara Payne Scarbro, the AVP for External Engagement for the Marshall University Research Corporation (MURC) and chairperson of the planning committee, said in a news release announcing the event. “We are also excited to expand our program to a full week, and add a student leadership conference.”

The daily focus and highlights include:

Mon. Nov. 16 — Our Economy, Congressional Update, Remarks from Small Business Administration

Tues. Nov. 17 — Our Health, COVID-19 update, Remarks from Harvard University Dr. John Kelly

Wed. Nov. 18 — Our Education, Higher Education Presidents Panel, HEPC Chancellor and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools

Thurs. Nov. 19 — Our Communities, POWER of Performance Awards

Fri. Nov. 20 — #WVSolutions Seekers Student Leadership Conference, Keynote: Brad Smith, Executive Board Chair and former CEO, Intuit.

Small Communities, BIG Solutions Conference program sponsor is United Bank. Others include West Virginia American Water, AEP, AARP, MURC, WV Executive Magazine and the West Virginia Municipal League. #WVSolutions Seekers Student Leadership Conference program sponsor is Kroger. Others include West Virginia Department of Education, WV HEPC and MURC.

“We appreciate our sponsors for stepping to the plate every year to support this important endeavor,” Brandon Dennison, Coalfield Development founder and CEO, said in the release. “I am amazed by the number of West Virginians who are committed and dedicated to their community’s growth and progress and this conference is a testament to that dedication.”

In addition, six Power of Performance Awards and two #WVSolutions Seekers student awards will be presented. One award for Small Communities, BIG Solutions Advocate also will be presented.

“We are truly honoring our own during this conference,” said Stephanie Tyree, West Virginia Community Development Hub executive director. “Our POWER of Performance honorees are really the power performers in our West Virginia communities. They are making a difference in so many lives.”

Because of support from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the #WVSolutions Seekers Student Leadership Conference is free to any high school junior or senior. College and Training Students are also encouraged to participate. The cost for college students is $12. The first 200 students to register get a free t-shirt. Tickets for the four-day professional conference are $17.25.

To learn more and to purchase tickets, visit