Sustainable Williamson | Economic Diversification in Appalachia


“Our goal at Sustainable Williamson is to usher forth a national proactive movement of communities and companies united to make sustainability become a reality for individuals, communities, towns and cities across the nation. The “proactive” component of this movement consists of respecting communities that, both today and in the past, have provided resources that support our way of life. Whether it’s coal, silver, silica, natural gas, steel, rubber, or even superconductors, the message is always the same: We thank you for all your hard work! As a new sustainable economy unfolds, the economies and communities that are dependent upon finite resources should not collapse or suffer as a result of our economy transitioning to utilizing more sustainable resources.” J. Eric Mathis (above), Commissioner with the Williamson Redevelopment Authority.

Williamson is the county seat of Mingo County, West Virginia, the Heart of the Billion Dollar Coalfield. Once a bustling center of commerce and the hub of regional coal and banking industries, Williamson’s decline began following two major floods in 1977 and 1984. Like many Appalachian communities, Williamson’s fortunes have been tied to the coal industry (in some counties, up to 40% of jobs rely directly on coal). As the coal mining industry declined, many communities suffered. Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) ranks Mingo County as one of the most economically distressed counties in Appalachia based on three economic indicators: average unemployment rates, per capita market income, and poverty rates. Problems in the community include high rates of poverty (21%), and serious issues of public health The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 12.5% of adults in Williamson have diabetes and 35.3% are obese—both are above the national average. Many of these issues are exacerbated by a lack of resources—it is difficult for many citizens to purchase necessities to maintain or promote health, such as healthy food and medicine. [Excerpted from the project page here.]

Despite these statistics, big changes are happening in Appalachia. This is a great opportunity to make an impact and help Sustainable Williamson with their goal of redefining the economic landscape of the central Appalachian coalfields. Please consider being a part of this incredible project!

Support their campaign by contributing here:

See the video here: