By RACHEL C. DOVE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Yesterday, during a special awards ceremony held inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the Unites States White House, J. Eric Mathis, the founder and director of The Jobs Project based in Williamson was selected as a “Champion of Change for Greening Our Cities and Towns” as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future Initiative.”
Nine individuals were chosen as outstanding leaders who are using innovative approaches to promote energy efficiency, revitalize outdoor spaces, encourage transportation options and improve quality of life in our cities and towns.
“Healthy, sustainable communities support a strong economy and better quality of life for Americans,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The leaders we’ve selected as “Champions of Change” are finding creative ways to make their communities healthier places to live, work and play, and demonstrating how a healthy environment and strong economy go hand in hand.”
The “Champion of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future initiative”. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
Mathis’ organization has been at the forefront of initiatives to bridge the gaps between the fossil fuel and renewable energy industries through the development and implementation of innovative finance and business models. These models are designed to be beneficial to both industries, creating mutually productive economic links between the fossil fuel and renewable industries and the surrounding communities.
Mathis is an active board member of the Williamson Redevelopment Authority and Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, where he is helping to develop a comprehensive project entitled “Sustainable Williamson”, which emphasizes health and wellness as a key opponent for economic revitalization.
Using Sustainable Williamson as a template, his most recent endeavor is participating in the creation and implementation of the Central Appalachian Sustainable Economies network, which is an interactive regional network of innovators cultivating new ideas and resources in central Appalachia to grow healthy communities.
Mathis was accompanied to Washington D.C. by Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick and WVU Extension Professor Bill Richardson. The Daily News will be conducting an interview with the men upon their return to Mingo County, to discuss their experiences and knowledge they retained from meetings they attended while at our nation’s Capitol.
Other individuals honored during the ceremony were from Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, Georgia and Colorado.