Economics of Pocahontas County

A vibrant community and a vibrant economy go hand in hand. The word “economy” derives from the Greek word, oikenomia, the household, or to manage the household. Money in today’s society is certainly an important part of an economy, but only as it helps toward a good end. That good end might include available health facilities, quality schools, and a diversity of businesses, jobs, stores, and services. It might include parks, recreational opportunities, beautiful landscapes, responsible governance, and vibrant arts. Neighborliness, compassion for the weak and vulnerable, and altruism and volunteerism are other traits worth mentioning. Strong infrastructure draws people and business into communities, such as good roads, airports, Internet, colleges, libraries, and media outlets.

Pocahontas County is challenged in large part due to its sparse, scattered, very low density population. It has no close by Interstate highway and no commercial railroad or airport. Internet service is very slow compared to the vast majority of the nation. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory provides quality professional jobs, but one downside is the “Quiet Zone” that restricts cell phone and other telecommunications.

People are always a community’s best potential resource. Retaining as well as attracting altruistic, community-minded, talented, motivated people to live their lives in Pocahontas County is a key to future economic prosperity and vibrant community life. So what does Pocahontas County offer to attract such people in a very mobile society? Enough, that is, to offset inadequacies some of which Pocahontas County can never compete?

If Pocahontas County is to strut its best stuff where it can compete with and best its competition, it clearly is in its scenic beauty and marvelous ecology. Many of the people who live in Pocahontas County have opportunities to spend their lives elsewhere. And a major reason, in many cases the one reason, that draws such people to live in this county is the beauty and natural ecology.

Therefore Eight Rivers Council supports economic development that is synergistic with and builds upon Pocahontas County’s beauty and clean ecology. We feel that increased emphasis and marketing on these traits will therefore strengthen our economy. On the converse, Eight Rivers Council opposes development projects or other initiatives that would despoil our beauty, compromise its ecology, or emphasize weaker traits at the expense of our strong suit.


“Nature’s Playground” is the motto of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Welcome to the Birthplace of Rivers.  The Greenbrier, Gauley, Elk, Cherry, Cranberry, Tygart Valley, Williams, and Shavers Fork of the Cheat rivers all begin in the pristine mountains of West Virginia. The only surface water that enters the county does so as precipitation; all other water flows out.  It’s a place of crystal clear streams, native brook trout, roaring waterfalls, and an authentic kind of people.

We invite you to experience the rich history, eloquent beauty, and warm hospitality of Pocahontas County. Find a 941 square mile outdoor recreation paradise where you can fish, hike, hunt, bicycle, camp, motorcycle tour, ski, and renew your connections with family and friends.

 Pocahontas Broadband Council

Serves to pursue opportunities to build fast, reliable, affordable Internet for every resident and business in Pocahontas County.

The fact that there are no interstate highways here with cell service and Internet access being either non-existent or very sketchy in most of the county, businesses tend to choose more accessible areas to locate in. Many of our young people tend to move to other places when they graduate from high school, leaving this a county with a diminishing and aging population.

However, as the pandemic has taught the entire country, people can very successfully work remotely from their homes and avoid the commute to work, provided that there is very fast and very reliable internet connectivity. 

Create West Virginia

“The mission of Create West Virginia is to support the development of creative communities, companies, and centers of learning that thrive in the global innovation economy.”

Create WV has five pillars that draw community-minded, creative people to live in a community and apply social and business entrepreneurship that invigorates their community. Diversity:  Openess to all people and the innovative ideas they bring to the table; Education:  Cradle to cradle  opportunities that engage and expand our natural human curiosity; Entrepreneurship:  Activity that involves discovery, evaluation, and risk-taking to intoduce new goods, services, markets, and processes that previously have not existed; Quality of Place:  The mix of culture, environment, “third place” hangouts and community intangibles that make a community desirable; Technology:  Access to it, and adoption of it.


Professor Dr. Thomas Power, University of Montana, has studied rural economics for decades. His book, Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies, is a most outstanding work. Although published almost 20 years ago, this book is highly recommended. Used copies are available online. Following are three book reviews.
Allen Johnson review

Jobs should coexist with the environment

Healthy economies offer quality of life

Old-fashioned “get togethers” are neighborly traits for our county rural people 

Quality outdoors attracts families. That is, when quality schools, libraries, health care, safe streets, and the welcome mat are in place.

In 2003, Pocahontas Libraries was one of three libraries in the nation to receive the highest national award. Libraries are in Durbin, Green Bank, Linwood, Marlinton, Hillsboro.

Pocahontas County may not be the easiest place to launch a career. However, honest, dependable, hard work that develop skills and reputation will be rewarded with a promising career path. Many can attest to that.