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Huntington Prepares for America’s Best Communities Grand Prize Ceremony Wednesday


HUNTINGTON — Leaders from Huntington are traveling to Denver, Colorado, with hopes of returning home with the top prize in the America’s Best Communities competition, a $10 million initiative sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel to revitalize small towns and rural communities across the country.

For almost three years, a comprehensive group of community members from Huntington has been working toward this moment. They developed a community revitalization plan packed with innovative ideas to stimulate economic development and neighborhood revival, and they’ve taken strides to implement it.

Throughout the competition, the community has won a total of $150,000 in grant funding from the program’s sponsors to create its strategy and put it to work. In addition, the prize money Huntington has won earlier in the competition has yielded more than $12.7 million of corporate, philanthropic, state and federal support.

“The funding we’ve earned through America’s Best Communities is certainly an accomplishment to celebrate, but we’re most proud of how our community has come together to believe in a shared vision for revitalization and prosperity,” Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said. “We have worked hard to make it this far in the competition, and no matter what happens in Denver, our community should be proud of what we’ve achieved.

In addition to Williams, Margaret Mary Layne of Layne Consulting; Joe Murphy of Trifecta Productions; Mary Witten Wiseman of Foundation for the Tri-State Community; and Matt Ward of Sustainable Strategies DC will represent Huntington at the America’s Best Communities Grand Prize Ceremony April 19 in Denver.

The top community will be awarded $3 million, second place will win $2 million, and third will receive $1 million. Local leaders and residents gathered Monday at Pullman Square to celebrate Huntington’s success at a “Rally to be America’s Best” before the team headed off to Denver early this morning. The excitement was high, and optimism even higher.

“With the energy of our neighbors at the rally, it’s clear this competition has sparked renewed hope in our community,” said Tyson Compton, executive director of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We know we can create a stronger future for Huntington, and America’s Best Communities has helped us find the path to make it happen.”

When they launched the America’s Best Communities competition in September 2014, Frontier Communications, DISH, CoBank and The Weather Channel challenged small towns and cities to envision a stronger future and build a strategy to achieve revitalization and growth.

More than 350 communities entered the competition, and now only eight community teams remain. In Denver, each community will present the strategies they’ve developed to revive their local economies, and the top three — which will be determined by their progress in implementing those strategies and the potential for sustained revitalization — will be awarded grand-prize funding to accelerate their communities’ growth.

In addition to Huntington, the other finalists are:

  • Chisago Lakes area, Minnesota
  • Darrington/Arlington, Washington
  • Lake Havasu City, Arizona
  • Madison, Indiana
  • Statesboro, Georgia
  • Tualatin, Oregon
  • Valley County, Idaho

Each community’s presentation will be streamed live on the America’s Best Communities Facebook page. Huntington’s presentation is scheduled to begin at Noon (EST) Wednesday. The Grand Prize Award Ceremony will also be streamed live on the America’s Best Communities Facebook page beginning at 7 p.m. (EST) Wednesday.

The Huntington community is invited to a local Grand Prize Ceremony watch party beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Trifecta Productions, 555 5th Ave.

For more on the competition, visit


About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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