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Andy Williamson is the new director of outdoor neighborhood growth for the Brad and Alys Smith Outside Economic Development Collaborative, based at West Virginia College.
(WVU Picture/Brian Persinger)

West Virginia University’s outdoor recreation gurus are difficult at get the job done developing entire world-class out of doors infrastructure, growing outdoor possibilities and applying the Mountain State’s outdoor belongings to advance the financial state. These endeavours are mission important at the Brad and Alys Smith Out of doors Financial Enhancement Collaborative, and now, the OEDC group is poised to broaden its initiatives with the assist of a improve agent who’s fired up about the collaborative’s operate.

Andy Williamson, the freshly minted director of outside neighborhood advancement for OEDC, arrives with an spectacular history, extensive instrument kit, and considerable connections in the outside field. He has labored in these areas for decades, and OEDC’s mission involves several of the exact aims he’s assisted plenty of other communities accomplish just before his arrival in Morgantown.

“This is about keeping our men and women listed here and bringing new people in. It’s about stopping the mind drain and enhancing the lives of West Virginians by reworking neighborhood economies in modern ways,” Williamson stated.

Williamson’s operate has generally centered on answering the question: How do we give people the entry to community lands and their benefits with no destroying them? He started out out as the dude who may well get you on a mountain bicycle trip or train you how to paddle a kayak in a scenic river, but his job trajectory in the end led him to leveraging the outdoors for local community advancement.

He was recruited out of school to operate an ground breaking plan called 5 Rivers Outside in Dayton, Ohio. “This total plan was based mostly on the premise of out of doors recreation being a vital economic progress tactic to revitalize a dying metropolis,” Williamson mentioned. “I figured out a ton, and that venture led to my development as an advocate and a champion of the outside. It authorized me a seat at the table with some critical folks and developed the basis of self confidence and management inside of me that I bring to West Virginia nowadays.”

Williamson’s do the job in Dayton, and later on in other states throughout the region — Idaho, Arkansas and North Carolina, to identify a several — taught him how to supply excellent accessibility to the wonderful outside and to renovate communities by leveraging their best purely natural property. 

He located his way to West Virginia and WVU many thanks to Danny Twilley, OEDC’s assistant vice president of economic, group and asset progress.

“I’ve regarded Andy for a prolonged time and worked with him on a selection of projects around the years. Since we introduced OEDC, I realized he wanted to be component of this staff,” Twilley stated. “He is an remarkable facilitator and the particular person you want doing the job with communities to objectively evaluate and assess out of doors recreation infrastructure, the economic ecosystem, and the amenities in a place that add to earning West Virginia the premier spot to dwell, get the job done, and engage in. The point out, WVU and the OEDC is fortunate to have him in this article to help us accomplish extensive-time period achievements.”

Williamson was familiar with the West Virginia before his arrival this summer time. The point out was an outside desired destination for him in the course of his childhood and college years in Ohio and, afterwards, all through his romantic relationship with his spouse, Joni, a new faculty member in the Faculty of Used Human Sciences.

“I recognize, initial-hand, the attractiveness and opportunity that is in this article,” Williamson reported. “Our goals right here are not just about moving grime. They are about bringing the correct men and women jointly to do anything incredible with West Virginians. I’ve hardly ever experienced accessibility to the methods and aid of an institution like WVU to make some thing like this take place, and I simply cannot notify you how exciting that is.”



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