Skip to main content
Capitalizing on Distinctiveness: Creating WV for a New Economy
Journal of Appalachian Studies (2015)
  • Brian A Hoey, Marshall University

This article explores use of images and ideas of place to promote particular social and economic agendas within the regional context of Appalachia. Despite prevailing imageries of backwardness and isolation that adhere to the region, as well as recent history of often-bleak economic conditions, communities such as Huntington, West Virginia, are ideal places to observe inventive forms of community-building, place-making, and place-marketing that borrow from emerging cultural and economic models and stand in sharp contrast to a once dominant paradigm that encouraged capital investment by relying simply on tax breaks and the provision of cheap land and labor to attract large, typically industrial employers. This research examines efforts of local activists and others who simultaneously embrace and reject elements of long-standing characterizations of place and people of Appalachia in their attempts to creatively redefine the meaning and purpose of development in West Virginia. Employing a critical regionalism, this article contributes to interdisciplinary literatures of Appalachian studies as well as postindustrial economic restructuring through deepening our understanding of how components of variously competing and sympathetic discourses concerning Appalachia have practical consequences for building community and fostering economic development in the region in what many now call the “new economy.”

  • Anthropology,
  • Space and Place,
  • Community Development,
  • Public Health,
  • Creative Class,
  • Postindustrialism,
  • Deindustrialization,
  • Lifestyle Migration,
  • Economic Restructuring
Publication Date
Spring 2015
Citation Information
Brian A Hoey. "Capitalizing on Distinctiveness: Creating WV for a New Economy" Journal of Appalachian Studies Vol. 21 Iss. 2 (2015)
Available at: