Health Innovation Through Entrepreneurism
The Health Innovation Hub is a Williamson event that gives local entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their ideas about new businesses and healthy enterprises to the community, and introduces them to experts who are able to help them develop their plans.
One notable Williamson entrepreneur is Debbie Young, a caterer who will soon be opening a healthy restaurant in town.
“Debbie was able to identify a large need in the community,” said Beckett. “We have many restaurants, many fast food restaurants, but there weren’t a lot of healthy restaurants for our citizens. So Debbie...was able to put a lot of healthy recipes together and then start her enterprise as a healthy restaurant.”
Other entrepreneurial initiatives capitalize on the area’s rich history—some with a focus on cultural tourism based on the Hatfield-McCoy legend, and others tapping into the region’s historic position as a leader in meeting energy demands. On the cultural tourism side, a lodging and campground service has recently opened outside of town, the Hatfield-McCoy Trails will soon also welcome mountain bikers and walkers, and a local man has launched the Hatfield-McCoy Guided Tours. And while Williamson was once known for driving the coal industry, it’s now becoming a leader in sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy sources. As the energy sector diversifies in West Virginia, one local business, Gilliam Solar, is preparing displaced workers with sustainable technology skills.
The community garden began with simply creating plots that were accessible to everyone in the community. Its central location meant people could easily walk across the street and be an active member of the community—and an active member of making the community healthier. The idea has since blossomed into 42 plots.
“The participation has just been very high,” he said. “The previous year we only had 24 plots and those went rather quickly, so we doubled our size. Still the demand has been very high and we’ve had to turn people away. So we’re looking at housing more plots to allow people to carry on that gardening.”
Beckett said the community garden has served a multitude of purposes. People are connecting with their neighbors and learning to enjoy gardening, and many are also selling what they’ve grown at the Farmers Market.
“The community garden has been a way to empower our residents to take a product that they’ve grown and use it to develop their skills as an entrepreneur by designing market development directly into the garden’s design,” said Beckett.