West Virginia Launches Remote Worker Incentive Program

With 35 state parks, 98,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 1.5 million acres of public land and parks, West Virginia is full of outdoor recreation opportunities that can drive people to move to the state. That’s why the Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (OEDC), funded by Alys and Brad D. Smith through the Wing 2 Wing Foundation, is officially launching its Ascend WV remote worker program.

In October 2020, Alys and Brad—through the Wing 2 Wing Foundation—donated $25 million to West Virginia University to develop the OEDC. Now, just six months later, Ascend WV is open to applicants. 

The program aims to bring experienced talent to the state, and stimulate economic growth and innovation in the area. It will also enhance opportunities for local talent to connect with people from all over the country and drive collaboration.

“Remote work has great potential in our state, and I know this is just the beginning,” said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. “While three cities were selected to get this program started, I know there’s more goodness to come.”

To start, the three cities in West Virginia participating in the program are Morgantown, Lewisburg and Shepherdstown. Applications for Morgantown launch on April 12, while the other applications will be available at a later date.

Over the next few years, the program aims to bring 1,000 new residents to West Virginia. Each of the participating cities will welcome 25-50 remote workers into their cities at a time. Accepted applicants will each receive $12,000 and a year’s worth of outdoor recreation access across the state. 

With COVID-19 transforming the opportunities for remote work, people now have the opportunity to live where they want and work from wherever that may be. The program is hoping to capture the first groups of workers leaving behind the city for a different lifestyle, driven by outdoor experiences and at a lower cost of living.

To learn more about the program or apply head to the Ascend West Virginia Remote Workers site.

Wing 2 Wing Makes The Largest Contribution in WVU History

One of the largest donations in West Virginia University history was made by Alys and Brad D. Smith. The $25 million donation was announced in early October and will be used to develop innovative new programs that will expand outdoor educational opportunities and stimulate the local economy.

The program, called The Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, was made possible through the couple’s Wing 2 Wing foundation, which aims to provide tools and resources to the communities of Appalachia, which have been disproportionately left behind in terms of technological and economical advances seen throughout the country. 

One of Brad’s leadership principles is paying-it-forward, and this donation to WVU is just one of the many ways he and Alys have given back to the state of West Virginia. Brad and Alys have also donated $25 million to Marshall University College of Business, as well as a $10 million scholarship.

Brad and Alys see some of the biggest opportunities to pay-it-forward by investing in programs that give back to the youth of West Virginia through education, which is what the Outdoor Economic Development aims to do.

You can read more about the donation, programs, and the outlooks on how this historic contribution will help grow and stimulate innovation in West Virginia here: 

Wing 2 Wing Foundation Donates $25 Million to WVU

For Alys and Brad D. Smith, co-founders of the Wing 2 Wing Foundation and West Virginia native, there are endless opportunities to revitalize West Virginia’s economy by embracing the state’s natural beauty and outdoor opportunities. To help fuel these possibilities and make them a reality, Alys and Brad have donated $25 million to develop the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (OEDC) at West Virginia University.

The program will leverage the natural resources of the Mountain State to develop world-class recreational infrastructure and outdoor educational opportunities. A big feature of OEDC is a remote worker program. This initiative will help draw more remote entrepreneurs to West Virginia and provide funding to employees and their families.

The gift has excited a lot of local state and school officials. Gov. Jim Justice says this gift will help showcase the best aspects of West Virginia and the beauty of living and working there.  Greg Corio, the assistant vice president of the OEDC, is excited to see continued collaboration across the colleges at the university to propel entrepreneurial and innovative ideas. 

This gift to WVU is just one of the contributions Alys and Brad have made to expand educational opportunities in West Virginia. The couple also donated $25 million and developed a $10 million scholarship fund at Marshall University where Brad graduated from.

You can read more about the Wing 2 Wing Foundation’s role in developing the OEDC and the impact this program, and Brad’s other contributions, will have on the region here:

Brad D. Smith Honored as Overall Champion of Children by WV KIDS COUNT

WV KIDS COUNT announced their awardees for the 2020 Champion of Children award. Brad. D. Smith was awarded the overall Champion of Children award due to his contributions to his home state and region.

Through the Foundation — which Brad co-founded with his wife, Alys — the couple aims to invest in education and entrepreneurship opportunities for everyone throughout the Appalachian region, which has been unfairly overlooked and underserved in terms of economic and technological advancements.

Other awardees include Dr. Gordon Gee, President of West Virginia University; Nikki Bowman Mills, founder of New South Media Inc; Dr. Larry Rhodes, Professor of Pediatrics at West Virginia University School of Medicine; and Linda McKinney, Director of Five Loaves & Two Fishes Food Bank.

You can read more about the other nominees and their contributions to the youth of the Mountain State, as well as the WV KIDS COUNT mission here: