Mr. Peyton argues that recent successes at Marshall University or in the health-care industry don’t count because they don’t contribute to the tax base. Well, first that’s not completely accurate. But the bigger point to make is that the modern economy isn’t like the old economy. And the old ways are crumbling fast. Modern economies are built around quality of life, authenticity of place and cultivation of opportunity. Thus, our raison d’etre: to be an inspiring hub of opportunity for central Appalachia, a diversity of opportunity for many different kinds of people.
In growing an entrepreneurial movement, the best news is we don’t really have to reinvent ourselves, as Mr. Peyton suggests. Huntington is a gateway of opportunity for all of Appalachia. And in creating opportunities here we simply need to keep getting back to what we do best: fixing, making, building, growing. We are talented, resilient, creative people. Heritage Farm is a beautiful reminder of that. The decline of coal, difficult as it has made life for so many, can be an opportunity to realize our full potential and become aware that we’re more than just one thing. Space has been made for new growth.