Huntington named ‘America’s Best Community,’ awarded $3M grand prize

“And the winner of $3 million — Huntington, West Virginia,” announced Vince Gill at the awards ceremony for the America’s Best Communities competition, a national campaign sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel. After three years, the Huntington community was officially announced as America’s best at a ceremony held in Denver, Colorado Wednesday.

“We are like every small city in America,” said Mayor Steve Williams to a crowd in Denver. “We have challenges in front of us. And there are some who will look at you and try to tell you what you can’t do. For too many years, there have been people who have come to our community to tell us about the problems in our area, but I’m proud to be able to say, and this will work across the country, this is worst to first.”

Community representatives gave a presentation earlier that day in one final effort to win the title. The presentation showcased the ways in which the Huntington community has leveraged funds awarded throughout the competition, and outlined plans for future community revitalization.

While the ceremony was held in Denver, Huntington community members met at Trifecta Productions to watch a live stream of the announcement. When it came to the final announcement of the grand prize, Huntington communications director Bryan Chambers could be heard saying, “It’s all or nothing.”

The room erupted upon hearing Huntington’s name called out, and as the mayor spoke, multiple people were seen with tears in their eyes.

“We were aggressive in our aspirations,” Chambers said. “Our community believed in that, and we are committed to the transformation of this community, and we feel that the plans we are putting in place will do that for the next 50 years.”

Chambers noted that this competition, since day one, worked to give Huntington citizens a voice.

Moving on from here, Huntington will invest the grand prize money into the Huntington Innovation Project, a plan focusing on four major projects: The Highlawn Brownfields, Fairfield Innovation Corridor, West End Revitalization and Gigabit City. These projects focus on revitalization projects including 21st century manufacturing sites, riverfront development, high speed broadband and redevelopment of distressed areas.

“This competition has put the spotlight on small towns across the country and has proven to be a tool to move forward rapidly with our plans to strengthen the economic vitality of our communities,” Williams said in a press release. “We make no little plans in Huntington. We aspire. We believe. We commit.”