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Summit promotes regionalism

PROCTORVILLE — Where there are two or more gathered good things can happen.

That was the message Thursday night during the inaugural Regional Summit Meeting, sponsored by the Southeast Lawrence County Kiwanis Club. Advantage Valley, an economic development corporation working in 11 counties in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, also played a key part in the summit’s conception.

Organizers say the idea of the event was to bring together people from all backgrounds and professions to work toward one common goal: regional economic success.

Gayle Vest, director of Advantage Valley, said her organization is working hand in hand with other local agencies to share resources to build a stronger region.

She theorized that many of the problems local economic development groups have with recruiting business and industry are caused by the lack of a spirit of regionalism. Individual communities in the three states have relatively low populations and an even leaner work force, Vest said.

The region has a combined population of about a half-million, she said.

“None of us are that attractive separately, that’s why we need to market ourselves together,” she said during her presentation Thursday night.

Advantage Valley, based in Hurricane, W.Va., has three goals, she said: attracting new business, expanding existing ones and promoting regionalism. These goals are something that the organization is working toward with the other 17 economic development groups in the area, she said.

Donavan Quesenberry, Kiwanis member and event coordinator, said although attendance was sparse Thursday night, he hopes the summit will grow and become an annual event.

In addition to Vest, there were speakers from Marshall University, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and emergency medical services.