She watched it and enjoyed what she witnessed, and that is why Alex Weld finds herself in the middle of the conversation in the city of Wheeling.
Weld was hired this month by Wheeling Heritage as the new marketing strategist and director of the organization’s Main Street Program and of ReInvent Wheeling. A 2012 graduate of West Virginia University, Weld was employed by WTOV-TV before moving to Bethany College to accept the communications specialist positon before joining The Health Plan as the company’s social media specialist
“Alex is a dynamic, talented individual with experience in external communications, content marketing, and public relations. She realizes that Wheeling is fast becoming a vibrant, cultured, and connected community, and her ability to engage others in our mission to continue this renewal is crucial to our leadership team,” said Jake Dougherty, executive director of Wheeling Heritage. “We look forward to working with her as we establish new objectives and opportunities for Wheeling Heritage. Alex’s willingness to freely offer to help small businesses in the community grow and thrive makes her an ideal fit for our Reinvent Wheeling and Main Street programs.
“Our work impacts the local economy, builds community, and increases opportunities, so it’s vital that each of our staff members possesses special knowledge as we advocate for downtown revitalization and sustainable rehabilitation,” he said. “Alex’s capabilities will add to the successful platforms we’ve created to grow and promote small businesses. We anticipate she’ll make distinctive contributions benefitting the community.”
Wheeling Heritage was founded in 1994 as a 501-c-3 organization that has had a positive impact on the city’s downtown district. Along with the development of Heritage Port, the Wheeling Artisan Center, and the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Transportation Center, Wheeling Heritage has assisted with establishing several historical districts in all corners of the city of Wheeling.
Weld, a native of Wellsburg and still a Brooke County resident, has been impressed with the change in direction of the Friendly City’s downtown.
“It has been interesting to follow the changes in Wheeling,” Weld said. “From an outsider’s perspective, I’ve been able to see the shift in the way people feel about downtown Wheeling and how people are now involved. For me, it’s been amazing to watch all that has happened. And seeing that shift has had me interested in this organization for some time now.
“So when I saw this job come up, I immediately thought it was something that I wanted to get involved with because I would love to be a part of something that helps keep people here,” she said. “Wheeling Heritage has helped re-define what Wheeling is to people, so I couldn’t pass it up, and I feel extremely fortunate to have won the position.”
Weld’s first day was March 6, and that initial week involved attending the Main Street Conference in Charleston during the Legislature’s regular session. The first day she participated in several hours of training, and then the next few days she finally participated in the conversation about the future of Wheeling and how the former capital city may prove to be a leader for other communities in the Upper Ohio Valley and throughout West Virginia.
“One of the many things I learned that first week was what a streetscape project can do for a downtown. It’s something that most people would not think about, and I know I didn’t give it much thought either,” she said. “But there are many things that we can do to improve the downtown so that people who live here, the people who work here, and the people who visit here will enjoy it even more than they already do.
“So, with Wheeling Heritage I will be directing the Main Street Program through ReInvent Wheeling, and I also will add the marketing component for Wheeling Heritage as a whole,” Weld explained. “I will also be involved with some grant writing, working with the community’s stakeholders, and getting involved with as much as I can here in Wheeling.”
One aspect of her new position that Weld is looking forward to the most is the interaction with the public that’s become not only expected but also vital to the process of pushing for change by utilizing an all-inclusive approach to idea collection.
“We do have many stakeholders here in the city of Wheeling, and they are very passionate about the progress that has taken place and what is possible in the future. There are people who wish to help Wheeling change, and I believe that that makes this city a very unique place,” Weld explained. “I believe that is something that will allow the city of Wheeling to set that bar pretty high for other cities and towns in our state and in our region.
“It gives the people in those other communities something to look at so they can see what is possible when there is a collective effort taking place. Here we have our citizens, our non-profit organizations, government, and our business community all working toward common goals, and that’s pretty special,” she said. “And it’s been easy to see that the citizens of this city believe they can be heard now, and that’s likely not a common belief elsewhere. But if they see it here, they will know that it’s possible in their community, too.”
Weld also believes the public throughout the Upper Ohio Valley needs to learn more about Wheeling Heritage and what the organization has accomplished during its first 23 years of existence, and she is very much looking forward to her first “Show of Hands” event coming up in late May.
“Wheeling Heritage is an organization that focuses on re-development in the downtown area, and it’s really an all-encompassing approach to that re-development. We focus on business development, community engagement, tourism, and several other aspects of that overall goal,” she explained. “I hope to reach the people who are still not in-the-know about Wheeling Heritage and ReInvent Wheeling and all of the great things that have been accomplished. I believe it is necessary to clearly define exactly what it is that Wheeling Heritage does and how we go about it.
“And I believe that when it all fits together, it can create a more vibrant Wheeling for everyone involved,” she continued. “I believe it is very important that we remain all-inclusive with those efforts so we can hear every single idea people may have. As long as we succeed with that, the changes that take place will represent this community and its wishes.”
(“Show of Hands” photos by Steve Novotney)