St Paul, Virginia is a town of fewer than a thousand people on the eastern edge of Wise County. A ‘coal town’ for generations, local leaders began working two decades ago to begin to diversify their economy, rebuild community pride and spaces, and figure out how to use their assets to create lasting prosperity. This has led to the creation of trails within and surrounding the town; a farmers market and pavilion in the center of downtown; Sugar Hill Brewery, one of the best craft breweries in the region; and most recently, the opening of a one-of-a-kind hotel, The Western Front, built into old buildings otherwise likely headed for demolition.
In 2016, SCALE was awarded a contract to help St Paul take this extraordinary local energy and innovation to the next level, with a focus on how to sustainably utilize the Clinch River as the community’s most unique and important asset. Working with two other firms – Peyton Boyd Architect and QC Landscape Architects – SCALE completed a feasibility study and business plan for the Clinch River Ecological Education Campus (2017). The process involved many community meetings, extensive research and a constant dialog with business people, community leaders, local elected officials, conservationists, UVA Wise and many more. The final product has been well utilized by St Paul and its partners, as they recently secured nearly three quarters of a million dollars to begin building out the CREC Campus!