Williamson, WV Learning Journey

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Williamson is known as the “Heart of the Billion Dollar Coalfield” with its bustling economy formerly driven by the local coal mining industry and the railroad. With a population in 1930 of 10,000 residents, the City of Williamson was a hub of commerce, retail and distribution. Today 3,000 residents live in the city and have begun to turn old vacant and historic buildings into new opportunities.

When you choose Williamson as your learning journey, you’ll visit downtown historic buildings retrofitted to house businesses that promote health and wellbeing. We’ll begin at the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) which serves as an anchor institution for economic development in the area. The clinic functions as a social enterprise that reinvests revenue and donates time to building a culture of health. Employees of the clinic operate programs and events throughout the community and will share about community engagement successes and challenges.

Next, we’ll take a walking tour where various community leaders will share business opportunities in the area, specifically highlighting an early win in a larger Broadband planning effort: a Downtown WiFi project that kicks off this year.

We’ll conclude our walking tour across from the old “pill mill,” at the Persinger building, where residents are building a turn-around story. The vision for the Health Innovation Hub at the Persinger building involves behavioral health support services, co-working space for entrepreneurs, event center space and a hostel to provide lodging for service learning groups and to accommodate visitors during the annual Hatfield McCoy Marathon. During the tour, participants will hear about the results of the most recent design charrette and learn how Williamson works on revitalization, workforce issues and substance abuse efforts collaboratively.

Finally, we’ll take a seat for presentations and conversation about how Williamson Health & Wellness Center (WHWC) is a model for rural innovation. WHWC has taken a holistic approach to how we improve the health of a population using the FQHC as an anchor institution while understanding that community health improvement is only achieved when all social determinants of health are addressed. 

 The Williamson Learning Journey is generously sponsored by The Solutions Project.