A crew from Coalfield Development Corp. that's remodeling a former warehouse in Williamson, West Virginia, is part of a broad effort to tackle empty or unkempt buildings in Appalachia.

Rural blight is a legacy of the coal industry's boom-and-bust nature in many communities in West Virginia and its neighbors.

Earlier this year, West Virginia University began a project to help rehabbers navigate the legal web surrounding older properties. Last year marked the launch of the statewide BAD buildings project which helps towns with dilapidated properties.

While big cities have fought blight for years, experts say rural areas have lagged in creating systematic approaches. In recent years, anti-blight programs have sprung up around Appalachia.