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The Alliance of Champion Communities is a community-based, citizen-led partnership that assists West Virginia communities in becoming more economically competitive by providing education, technical assistance, and the sharing of best practices in community development.
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Empowerment from within...
The Alliance of West Virginia Champion Communities inspires leadership by example. Those who participate learn how to facilitate meetings, develop agendas, conduct surveys and network with other leaders. Members mentor emerging community leaders in structuring projects, writing grant applications, organizing volunteers and other important leadership skills.
Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) CAEZ map


Connie Lupardus
Secretary of the Alliance
Executive Director of CAEZ
Office: 304-587-2034, 800-935-3921
Cell: 304-545-5829

About Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone

The Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) of West Virginia is a federally designated Rural Enterprise community formed in 1994. It serves all of Clay County and portions of four other counties including Braxton, Fayette, Nicholas and Roane. The organization fosters community enhancement with emphasis on education, economic development, housing and infrastructure.

CAEZ's accomplishments include construction of the Mount Hope Industrial Park, extension of water/sewage service throughout their service area, funding assistance to establish Clay Fitness Center and Roane County Fitness, establishing a low-interest Home Repair Loan Program and funding for fire departments, ambulance service, health departments and Head Start programs.

The CAEZ Board of Directors is composed of elected Citizens representing each covered Census Tract, and one appointed County Commissioner from each of five counties. Board meetings are held at the CAEZ Office, 135 Main Street in the City of Clay, at 6 pm on the first Tuesday of each month.

Anyone interested in helping with any CAEZ projects should call 304-587-2034.

Economic Development Committee for CAEZ of WV

  • Michael Martin, Chairperson
    (Fayette County)
    304-877-3100 W
    Fax 304-877-2880
  • Russell Deering, Vice Chair
    (Nicholas County)
    304-632-2508 W
    304-632-1294 H
  • Peter Silitch
    (Braxton County)
    304-765-7609 W
    304-765-5321 H
  • Fred Sampson
    (Clay County)
    304-286-2204 H
  • Doyle Tawney
    (Roane County)
    304-565-4264 H
  • Malcolm Parker
    (City of Mt. Hope)
CAEZ has played the role of developer, facilitator, and resource coordinator. In most cases, CAEZ has taken the lead in project conceptualization and then found the appropriate entity for implementation. If an appropriate implementing group is not available, CAEZ will organize one. This approach has been taken to ensure that grassroots participation remains strong in the program.

Anyone interested in helping with any CAEZ projects should call 304-587-2034.

CAEZ Community Projects

West Virginia State Community and Technical College Valley Fork Campus
CAEZ purchased Valley Fork Elementary School, which was closed as a result of consolidations. Just a short drive from Interstate 79 and with renovations completed in 2008, the site is now a satellite campus for West Virginia Community and Technical College (WVSCTC) to serve students from Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Roane, and Kanawha Counties. Licensed Practitioner Nursing (LPN) and Heavy Equipment Operator Training are course programs planned for the new facility.

Valley Fork College

Community Housing Development Corporation
In the fall of 2008, West Virginia Housing Development Foundation chose CAEZ to be a Community Housing Development Organization. This designation allows CAEZ to construct single family housing for low to moderate income families in Clay, Braxton, Fayette, Nicholas and Roane Counties. CAEZ is now meeting with an architect to choose a design and location for the first home. If you are interested in applying for a home to be constructed call 800-935-3921 to review qualification requirements.

Mount Hope Industrial Park
Mount Hope Industrial Park was constructed in 2001 by CAEZ at a cost of $2,758,000. "This park has allowed us to attract business interest to our area and have a substantial import by providing jobs in this distressed area," explains Connie Lupardus, CAEZ's Executive Director. The park houses Global Contact Services, the Central Youth Correctional Facility and Mankin Mining Equipment. These three businesses have annual payroll exceeding $9 million. The Mount Hope Industrial Park has approximately 7 acres remaining for additional development.