Elkins Rotary Club hears about SMART initiative
ELKINS — Members of the Rotary Club of Elkins heard a presentation Monday about a unique program that boosts economic development in the region.
Jack Pappas, of Elkins, was a founding board member of an initiative known as SMART, which stands for Strengthening the Mid-Atlantic Region for Tomorrow. It is a bi-partisan congressional program that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
Pappas, now a board member emeritus, said he hopes the initiative will one day include West Virginia, and it soon could include New York.
He explained the idea developed as a way for representatives from the Mid-Atlantic states to form a loose-knit relationship to facilitate a range of positive projects that are designed to become self-sustaining in just two to three years.
“The ideal partnership would involve government, academia and industry from all four states,” he said. “It’s really unique.”
He continued, “Our whole thrust has been to bring people together for economic development. We wanted good jobs that were sustainable and would carry on into the future.”
Some of the projects have focused on manufacturing, health care, global diversity, transportation, women’s issues and more.
He said since the formation of SMART since 1999, $625 million has been direct funded, and the initiative has hosted more than 300 major events, such as networking conferences.
“We’ve had a major impact on this region,” Pappas said, adding he hopes to generate interest in West Virginia joining SMART. “I think West Virginia can benefit from this.”