With an unemployment rate almost one and a half percent above the national average, Lincoln County, West Virginia may be running short of jobs, but not of driven people engaged in creative problem solving--with their minds and their hands. In a county with a long history of innovators, craftspeople, and hard workers, the talents of generations gone by have not passed without leaving a legacy. That's where Coalfield Development enters the picture, helping people hone and capitalize on their skills and talents in today's economic environment.

For about a year and a half, Matthew Allen Hensley, 22, of Ranger, Lincoln County, has been busy crafting a variety of high-quality, handcrafted home decor products at Saw’s Edge Woodshop, an enterprise of Coalfield Development's Rediscover Appalachia. Like many throughout West Virginia, Matt, who graduated from Lincoln County High School in 2015, has never been a stranger to hard work. “After graduation I worked at Kmart as a janitor for $200 a week,” Matt said. A call from a former high school teacher led him to a job interview with Coalfield Development--a life-changing interview. After coming on board with Coalfield’s Revitalize Appalachia and trying his hand at construction, he realized he had another calling: fine woodworking. This led him to a position working at Coalfield’s Saw's Edge Woodshop in Huntington, West Virginia, a division of Rediscover Appalachia. Matt explained, “My stepdad was into woodworking as a cabinetmaker. My real dad was a railroad worker and woodworking was his hobby. It's what I'm good at and love to do."

At Saw's Edge Woodshop, table saws buzz and drills spin as Matt and other crew members design and build furniture and home accessories, utilizing a wide variety of tools and skills. “Everyone does everything,” explained Matt, who appreciates the learning experience, the opportunity, and especially the camaraderie. “When we come into the conference room, we talk about safety and projects we're going to work on each day," Matt explained.

Crew members say it best!
Each product made by the crew members at Saw’s Edge may vary in size and color slightly because each item is made by hand. In addition to furnishings such as bookcases, desks, and tables, Saw's Edge's crew members tout their ability to create anything from custom cabinetry to handcrafted West Virginia signs made from turn-of-the-century hardwoods. Saw's Edge products are found not only in homes across the country but also in local businesses, including Banhoff, Backyard Pizza, Black Sheep Burrito, Rio Grande, and others.
What makes Coalfield Development unique is that in addition to on-the-job training, crew members also receive higher education and personal development. Matt explained that each crew member follows the 33-6-3 model each week: 33 hours of hands-on training, 6 hours of schooling at the local community and technical college, and 3 hours of personal development. He credits Coalfield Development for creating a model that takes an enthusiastic entrepreneur's concept or business idea and makes it viable. “They're trying to teach us how to operate a business. More businesses mean more jobs.”
When asked what advice he would give to someone struggling to find work, he said, "I really hope people find what they love to do, take pride in what they do, and do it…like I do.” For more information, visit


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