white sulphur springs
Ever wonder how a dying town finds a new lease on life? How boarded up buildings become bastions for new businesses? How small rural communities can educate youth while empowering them to improve their hometowns? If so, you’re going to love meeting these Possibilitarians. They embrace bold ideas with purposeful action and inspire and mobilize others to do the same. They focus on solutions instead of problems. They think positively and act with passion. They turn possibilities into realities.
In 2016, one of the deadliest floods in state history took a swipe at the small town of White Sulphur Springs. The floodwaters changed the community forever—and in some incredibly positive ways. Take the efforts of Davis Bostic, Clay Elkins, and J.W. Groseclose. Eyeing the decimated downtown, Bostic planned the purchase of an entire city block and started renovating the place with a mission to return a heartbeat to White Sulphur. Midway through the renovations, he combined forces with Elkins, and the pair developed a comprehensive plan for the “Cross Creek” buildings, as the block was named. They opened Road Hogs BBQ in 2019, which served as the setting for a chance and fruitful meeting that added Groseclose—and his background in brewing—to the redevelopment project.
The Cross Creek buildings are a success story still being written. Other businesses now located there include Cross Creek Cafe, Cross Creek Events, and the recently opened Big Draft Brewing. The reimagined block has served as the tipping point for dozens more redevelopment projects in town. The heart of White Sulphur Springs is finally beating again, thanks in large part to these three men who had a vision for what could emerge with a lot of hard work and a little luck.
How does it feel to make such an impact on the community?
Dave Bostic My family has been in White Sulphur Springs since the city was established. I left after graduating but returned to work at The Greenbrier, where I started my hospitality journey. I left again for a few years, then returned for good in 2013. It means everything to me to be able to give back to a community that my family has been part of for generations. It feels amazing that what we have built has positively impacted the community. The guests that are traveling to the area get to see what White Sulphur is and the beauty of the people that live here instead of seeing rows of empty shops. What they see now is a quaint, thriving small downtown with some awesome and surprising food, beverage, and hotel venues to enjoy. We hope to find other ways to impact small-town redevelopment in White Sulphur and even across the state.
What advice would you give to anyone eyeing a redevelopment project of their own?
Clay Elkins Don’t be paralyzed by perfection. You can improve as you grow. There is no point in waiting until everything is 1,000% perfect—in fact, you’ll probably never get anywhere if you do.
There are a lot of resources out there created to help you out with these kinds of projects, like the Small Business Administration and any one of the incubators across the state. For us, the WV Hive Network has been so great to work with—it’s easy to see that they really want to help small businesses get started. It’s also a great idea to go talk to people who have done it already. We’re happy to talk to anyone about our experience here, the lessons we’ve learned, and we hope they’ll see the buzz in town and find encouragement there.
What’s it like to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel after such a huge economic development undertaking?
J.W. Groseclose Our vision was solid, our execution was above average for what we tried to pull off, and it finally feels like we’re seeing the fruits of our labor. There were tough times, but we stayed committed to the vision, and it looks like it might have been a good idea after all. We’ve started some serious momentum in this town—it’s really a night and day difference when you walk down Main Street. We were the first pebble in the pond, but we’ve seen 10 to 15 new businesses open in town, and I heard today that a lot of them are woman-owned.
We’re constantly looking forward and continuing to seek out that light at the end of the tunnel. We have had a great response from the community. It’s so promising for us, and the future looks bright.
READ MORE ARTICLES FROM WV LIVING’S SPRING 2022 ISSUE
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