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Chamber taps Business of the Month

Submitted photo The Elkins-Randolph County Chamber announces its Spotlight Business of the Month for February 2021, the Woodlands Development & Lending Group.

ELKINS — The Elkins-Randolph County Chamber is pleased to announce its Spotlight Business of the Month for February 2021, the Woodlands Development & Lending Group. Woodlands has been a member of the Chamber since 2011.

Woodlands Development Group was started in 1995 to address the housing needs of Randolph, Barbour and Tucker counties. Since then, they have expanded to work on downtown redevelopment, neighborhood revitalization, parks & trails development, and community planning. In 2012, they created their sister organization, Woodlands Community Lenders, to provide alternative financing to small businesses and real estate ventures in the region.

Woodlands currently employs 14 professionals while fulfilling its mission to invest in communities in the northern mountains of West Virginia and to support economic and community development through direct investments, technical assistance provision, and community planning efforts.

Woodlands focuses on (1) Development of single family and rental housing for low and moderate income households; (2) Assisting with downtown redevelopment through direct investments and supporting private building owners with assistance and financing; (3) Helping our small towns with community facility development such as parks, trails, and gathering places; (4) Working with local government and civic organizations to develop community-based plans and then bringing in the resources to implement those plans; and (5) Providing financing and assistance to new and growing small businesses.

Everything Woodlands has done started with a community conversation in some form. The work to act on community priorities using whatever tools they have available. The pay attention to what is going on in other parts of the country, and then they try to figure out how to adapt successful approaches that fit our communities. Tax credits, for instance, area used by hundreds of communities to support downtown redevelopment, but they are used primarily in dense, urban areas where there are multi-million dollar projects. Working with some of our local banks (Davis Trust, Freedom, and Grant County), they were able to figure out how to put tax credits to work here at a scale that makes sense.

Woodlands Community Lenders is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Woodlands created Community Lenders after they heard many entrepreneurs had trouble accessing capital. They now work with both local business owners and local banks to make sure that businesses can get what they need to grow. They make riskier loans than a bank normally would, and they offset that risk by working with owners to make sure there’s a solid business plan in place.

Currently, Woodlands Community Lenders is offering Covid Response and Recovery loans at a very low rate, (1.5%), in an effort to get affordable capital into the hands of local business owners.

Woodlands is a non-profit, community-based organization that strives to make all their work a service to the community. A good example of this is the recently-completed Grace Davis Residences. This project emphasizes the Woodlands’ response to community needs and collaboration with local partners. After a year-long conversation focused on the increasing senior population in Randolph County, Woodlands joined with Davis Health System to create a new type of independent living facility. The Grace Davis Residences, built by Woodlands on DHS property next to Davis Memorial Center, provides fully accessible apartments with services that include meals, housekeeping, laundry, and security. Woodlands is leasing apartments there right now! Call 304.636.6495, ext. 18 for more information.

Again, the Chamber congratulates Woodlands Development & Lending Group as our February 2021 Spotlight Business of the Month!

The mission of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce is to advocate, educate, and network to enhance business opportunities in Elkins & Randolph County.

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