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A message from Alliance Chairman Pat Bond & President/CEO Matthew Ballard

ALLIANCE_color~verticalAfter hosting eight events in six days, the Charleston Area Alliance was busy last week, to say the least.Whether enjoying music at the Brown Bag Concert or touring loft properties across the city at Loft Walk, we hope you had the opportunity to participate in one of the many events held by the Alliance and Generation Charleston, our young professionals program.

We understand that connecting the dots between the many grass roots programs taking shape across the Kanawha Valley to the Alliance’s overall mission can sometimes seem a challenge. However, we can ensure you that every Alliance program and its initiatives are driven by one force: Vision 2030.

In 2011 more than 400 local stakeholders gathered to collaborate and develop the Kanawha Valley’s 20-year strategic plan, known as Vision 2030. After months of hard work and planning, a forward-thinking roadmap designed to inspire an economy that provides sustainable jobs for Kanawha Valley residents, while meeting future megatrends, was born.

Using the roadmap as a guide, the Alliance has organized Vision 2030’s initiatives into seven drivers: Workforce/Education, Innovation/Research and Development, Leadership, Health, Energy Industry, Chemistry and Downtown Revitalization.

Thanks to hard work and extensive planning, nearly every Vision 2030 driver was supported during last week’s events.

We kicked off the week on Monday, Sept. 15 with the Alliance’s annual Golf Scramble. The event was held at Berry Hills Country Club and helped raise money to support the Alliance’s economic and community development initiatives, which in turn supports all seven Vision 2030 drivers.

Also on Monday, Generation Charleston kicked off its Urban Living 2014 week with the Homebuyer’s Blueprint at the Four Points by Sheraton on Kanawha Boulevard. At the event, young professionals got the tools and tips to buying their first home.

Helping young professionals take the leap into home ownership will support greater investment in our communities and downtown development. Housing and specifically “downtown housing,” remain the number one interest for young professionals in the Charleston Area.

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurs (SAGE) welcomed participants of the farmer-training program and volunteers to Rebecca Street on the West Side to plant an urban orchard. In a few years, the orchard’s trees will be producing apples, pears, apricots and more.

SAGE teaches participants how to grow sustainable produce in urban spaces across Charleston. The program, which supports the Downtown Revitalization, Innovation and Health drivers, helps urban farmers learn how to sell their produce as a reliable form of income.

Much of the produce grown is sold at the East End Bazaar on Saturday and used locally by several eateries and restaurants, including Alliance member Mission Savvy.

Also on Tuesday, more than 200 people attended the downtown Loft Walk. The walk, which was part of GC’s Urban Living 2014 week, showcased the available lofts for sale in the Four Points by Sheraton and more.

This is the seventh straight year Generation Charleston has hosted the event, which focuses on downtown housing options. The Alliance continues to encourage developers to invest in housing appropriate for young professionals and families who want to live in the downtown area.

The Alliance was excited to attend the grand reopening of Edible Arrangements in South Charleston on Wednesday, Sept. 17. The new owners met through Generation Charleston, which supports the Vision 2030’s Leadership driver.

At Appalachian Power Park on Wednesday evening, Katie Rugeley, owner of The Initialed Life LLC, defeated seven other businesses at “Thrive,” the Alliance’s annual crowdfunding event. Rugeley’s business specializes in custom monogrammed and embroidered items. She was among eight local entrepreneurs competing for over $4,000 in crowd-funded seed money.

Supporting Vision 2030’s Innovation driver, community members paid $20 to attend the event, listened to the entrepreneur’s sales pitch and acted as investors by voting on their favorite business idea. Rugeley plans use the money to invest in a second commercial embroidery machine to meet sales demand and hire a second employee. Providing a source of seed capital for start-ups is one way the Alliance is assisting small businesses.

ArtWalk, a monthly evening event supporting Downtown Revitalization, drew hundreds of attendees on Thursday, Sept. 18. The September ArtWalk showcased a variety of artists working in a myriad of media ranging from watercolor to coal sculptures. This event encourages the support of local artists, art galleries and other downtown businesses.

Local professionals were encouraged to get out of the office and enjoy live music at Davis Park in downtown Charleston during their lunch break on Friday, Sept. 19. The Brown Bag Concert was held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with musical performances by West Virginia State University’s Jazz Ensemble and St. Albans High School Marching Band. Several local Alliance member restaurants sold lunches during the downtown event.

We’re excited to bring the Kanawha Valley innovative programs and events to encourage greater economic development, community engagement, innovative entrepreneurial activity, healthy food initiatives and more.

We know that none of this would be possible without the support from our members and community leaders.

We’re eager to continue down the Vision 2030 path with you and advance the Kanawha Valley as a vibrant place to live and work.

To learn more about the Charleston Area Alliance or ways to get involved visit www.charlestonareaalliance.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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