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PURPOSE OF CAEZ
CAEZ would like to express appreciation to the many people who worked diligently to establish this organization. The following people are the original incorporators as listed on CAEZ's Articles of Incorporation.
Charlie Biggs, Mount Hope
Jerry C. Bird, Lizemores
James E. Boggs, Ivydale
James Dawson, Clay
Spurgeon Hinkle, Craigsville
Joseph C. Hoffman, Belva
Orton A. Jones, Spencer
Betty Lilly, Mount Hope
Roama Lively, Braxton County
Rita M. Napier, Frametown
Logan M. Rhodes (deceased), Clay
Melinda Sizemore, Maysel
Doyle Tawney, Newton
Denise Taylor, Ovapa
Wanda Taylor (deceased), Bickmore
Brent A. Wilson, Spencer
John L. Witt, Fayetteville
Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone (CAEZ) is a private nonprofit (501(c)4) corporation created in 1994 to participate with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community (EZ/EC) Initiative. The Rural Empowerment Programs were managed by USDA Rural Development. When the EZ/EC program was announced, representatives from a five county region recognized the opportunity it provided to improve the quality of life for residents and decided to collaborate on an application.
The resulting five county region served by CAEZ includes nine census tracts including all of Clay County and portions of Braxton, Fayette, Nicholas and Roane Counties. It covers 800 square miles with approximately 29,000 residents.
By providing tax incentives, grants, loans, and technical assistance, the EZ/EC Initiative has helped spur private investment in communities that have experienced severe economic decline. The program provides performance-oriented, flexible Federal grant funding so communities can design local solutions that empower residents to participate in the revitalization of their neighborhoods. Strategies resulting from these partnerships have generated jobs, provided business assistance and services, trained and educated youth and families, improved access to childcare, healthcare and transportation, and increased residents' safety and involvement in their neighborhoods.
Over 100 community meetings were held to discuss issues and priorities for CAEZ's strategic plan. The plan focuses on the following:
- Infrastructure enhancement
- Economic development
- Housing development
- Education quality and access
- Healthcare and emergency service expansion
CAEZ of WV is one of thirty rural enterprise communities designated in 1994. CAEZ immediately began implementation of its strategic plan. Early accomplishments include establishing or expanding:
A representative from President Clinton's office presented CAEZ with a check for $2,950,000 at a public ceremony held on Monday, July 24, 1995 at 3:30 pm at the Clay County Courthouse Annex. Governor Caperton attended and presented additional funds. Other dignitaries attending were Congressman Bob Wise, Deputy Under-Secretary of the Rural Economic Development Authority of Washington, DC Mike Dunn, and Director of WV State Rural Economic Development Authority Bobby Lewis. Shown at the ceremony are: (left to right) Bobby Lewis, WV State Senator Shirly Love, WV Governor Gaston Caperton, unknown man with dark glasses, Frank Jorgenson, Patty Fussell, Rita Napier, Russell Deering, Doyle Towney, Jerry Bird, Clinton Nichols and R. T. Sizemore. The event was broadcast on television Channels 3, 4, 8 and 13.
- Building construction trades program to teach construction skills and provide affordable housing for zone residents
- Housing rehabilitation revolving loan fund for residents to use updating roofs, septic systems, wells, etc.
- New home construction program to leverage outside funding sources for construction of affordable housing
- Site planning and targeted industries study
- Purchased land and developed Mount Hope Industrial Park
- Loan fund to provide "gap" financing for new and expanding zone businesses
- Entrepreneurial development program funded by Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)
- Multi-county economic development marketing program
- Six (6) preschool programs
- Adult Basic Education (ABE) program to serve 100-150 residents per year
- Six (6) Family Resource Networks (FRNs) linking resources with community needs
- Ambulance stations throughout CAEZ service area
- Funding for two (2) wellness centers
- Seven (7) county arts & crafts cooperative and retail store at a regional factory outlet mall
- Funding for fire departments throughout CAEZ service area
- Funding for Roane County Family Health Care's Fitness Center
- Learning Lab in CAEZ office for business development training programs.
- Partnered with the Workforce Investment Board and their Youth Advantage Program to have an office in Clay County
- Instrumental in creation of Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad Cooperative to develop a rail excursion and a campground along Buffalo Creek
The Federal Designation expired Dec. 31, 2004, at which time CAEZ became a USDA Champion Community. Benchmarks established by our citizens continue as the focus of operations. Current CAEZ projects are described at the "CAEZ Projects" link above. If you have a project idea, contact CAEZ.
CAEZ fills the roles of developer, facilitator, and resource coordinator as needed to insure the success of each project. In most cases, CAEZ takes the lead in project conceptualization, and then contracts with appropriate entities for implementation. If appropriate implementing groups are not available, CAEZ organizes new ones. This approach has been taken to ensure that grassroots participation remains strong in the program.
CAEZ's Board of Directors includes elected representatives and appointed County Commissioners. Representatives are elected by the residents of the census tracts and proportioned according to the poverty levels. Census tracts with higher poverty rates are assigned a greater number of representatives. Each county represented has one (1) elected County Commissioner serving on the Board of Directors.