Annual conference encourages social enterprise businesses as the future of Appalachia

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – People from all over Central Appalachia gathered at Tamarack today for the 3rd annual Social Enterprise Summit. 

The purpose of the summit is to bring together entrepreneurs at all levels to talk about creating social enterprises in struggling regions. The summit featured speakers like Jennifer Wells, who is the executive director for  West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition and delivered the keynote. 

“We don’t need to be ascribing to an outside image of what we should be,” Wells said. “We can absolutely hold space in West Virginia to be the best that we can be economically and to build the businesses that work for us.” 

These types of enterprises are businesses that combine commercial and nonprofit elements to benefit the area as a whole in its hiring or business practices. The event was sponsored by Coalfield Development and their CEO, Brandon Dennison, believes these types of businesses are what can move this region forward. 

“Because we know that Appalachia can be so much more than what it has been and social enterprise is a tangible, real way to actually realize that potential,” Dennison said. 

After the morning sessions, the group split up into three tracks: Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Coaching Entrepreneurs and the Ownership Track. 

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