In 1997, when the Highland Elementary School building became vacant, a group of concerned citizens came together with the idea of restoring and utilizing the building for activities to benefit the community. In 1998, the building was purchased and The Highland Center was formed as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
After forming, the Center conducted surveys of Highland County residents to help identify its mission of and what programs the Center should develop for the community. The top issues identified were economic development, tourism, business growth, and enhanced agriculture. The Center established its business incubation, farmers’ market, and commercial kitchen programs as a direct result of the surveys.
Since then, The Highland Center has served as a public venue for countless community events, operated an employment program for area youth, and led important regional initiatives to advance tourism, agriculture, and the arts.
Today, the Highland Center houses numerous tenants to include a mix of individual artists, non-profit organizations, and the county’s Visitor Center. It operates programs around four main areas: Business Incubation, Youth Development, Community & Economic Development, and Local Food & Agriculture. The Center’s reach has expanded beyond Highland County to benefit the entire Allegheny Highlands region, including Bath County, Virginia, and Pocahontas and Pendleton Counties in West Virginia.
The Center’s mission has not changed since its inception which is to serve all citizens of Highland County by being a catalyst for cultural and economic development.