Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Magnum Coal Coming to Charleston.

It was great to work with Magnum through this process. We were able to learn just how great an addition they are going to be to our community. It was specifically great to build our relationship with Magnum's Senior Vice President of Business Development and Administrative Services, David Turnbull. Welcome to Charleston Magnum Coal!

From the Charleston Daily Mail:

Laidley new coal company's home

George Hohmann
Daily Mail business editor

Wednesday May 31, 2006
The state's newest major coal company is establishing its corporate headquarters in Charleston.

Magnum Coal Co. has leased one floor and one-third of a second floor at Laidley Tower and plans to move in around the end of July, a company executive said. More than 50 employees are expected to eventually work out of the tower.

Magnum employs about 1,700 West Virginians.

The company expects to produce about 20 million tons of coal this year, making it one of the five largest producers in the state.

Paul Vining, Magnum's president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement, "The choice of corporate headquarters is reflective of Magnum's strong commitment to the coal industry, our employees, the city of Charleston and the state of West Virginia.

"We will be within an hour-and-a-half drive from all of our employees and all of our mining operations once we complete the move this summer," he said. Magnum is currently headquartered in Beaver, Raleigh County.

The company operates a total of 17 surface and underground mines and seven preparation plants, all located in West Virginia.

Magnum consists of the combined assets of Trout Coal and the Hobet, Catenary and Apogee mining complexes that were acquired from Arch Coal Inc. at the end of 2005. Operations include Speed Mining Inc., Dakota Mining Inc., and Remington Coal Co. Inc.

The privately held company with the combined resources was established earlier this year.

Magnum controls more than 629 million tons of reserves.

In addition to Vining, key executives are Keith St. Clair, executive vice president and chief financial officer; Bob Bennett, senior vice president of sales and marketing; David Turnbull, senior vice president of business development and administrative services; and Richard Verheij, senior vice president and general counsel.

Magnum has hired RC General Contractors Inc. of Charleston to build out its Laidley Tower space.

For years, major coal companies operating in West Virginia have been headquartered in other states. That began to change last year when International Coal Group Inc. announced plans to move its headquarters from Ashland, Ky., to Scott Depot. ICG's office building, on land between Interstate 64 and the Teays Valley Cinemas, is under construction.

Contact writer George Hohmann at 348-4836.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Manufacturing Employment

I ran across an interesting analysis of the state of manufacturing. Written by Dr. Walter E. Williams who serves on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics. The article is located on the web here. I have posted it below as well. Enjoy a look at his view and some of the numbers to support his position.

Disappearing manufacturing jobs

By Walter E. Williams

May 3, 2006

According to some pundits and political hustlers, free trade has led to a loss of "good manufacturing jobs." Let's look at it, but before doing so, let's first see whether we should work ourselves into a tizzy over other job losses.

In 1900, 41 percent of the U.S. labor force was employed in agriculture. Now, only two percent of today's labor force works in agricultural jobs. If declining employment is used as a gauge of an industry's health, agriculture is America's sickest industry.

Let's not stop with agriculture. In 1970, the telecommunications industry employed 421,000 workers in good-paying jobs as switchboard operators. Today, the telecommunications industry employs only 78,000 operators. That's a tremendous 80 percent job loss. What happened to all those agriculture and switchboard operator jobs? Were they exported to China and India by rapacious businessmen?

The easy and correct answer is that our agricultural sector has seen massive gains in productivity as a result of advances in farm machinery, innovation and technology. There have also been spectacular advances in telecommunications. In 1970, those 421,000 switchboard operators annually handled 9.8 billion long-distance calls. Now 100 billion long-distance calls a year require only 78,000 switchboard operators. What's more is, the cost of making a long-distance call is a fraction of what it was in 1970.

Here's my question to you: Should Congress do something to restore all of those jobs lost in agriculture and telecommunications, and what might that something be?

The tremendous gains in productivity seen in agriculture, telecommunications and some other industries have benefited the manufacturing industry as well. According to David Huether, chief economist of the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. manufacturers are producing and exporting more goods than ever before. While manufacturing output easily outpaces the larger U.S. economy, manufacturing employment, at 14.2 million, is at its lowest level in more than 50 years.

How do we reconcile lower manufacturing employment with rising manufacturing output? In his April 3, 2006, BusinessWeek article, "The Case of the Missing Jobs," Huether says, "Since 2001, with the aid of computers, telecommunications advances, and ever more efficient plant operations, U.S. manufacturing productivity, or the amount of goods or services a worker produces in an hour, has soared a dizzying 24 percent. That's 72 percent faster than the average productivity advance during America's four most recent recession-recovery cycles dating back to the 1970s. In short: We're making more stuff with fewer people." That means rapid economic growth doesn't translate into the kind of manufacturing job creation of earlier periods.
How about the claim that our manufacturing jobs are going to China? The fact of business is, since 2000, China has lost 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, compared with the loss of 3.1 million in the U.S.

Job loss is the trend among the top 10 manufacturing countries who produce 75 percent of the world's manufacturing output (the U.S., Japan, Germany, China, Britain, France, Italy, Korea, Canada and Mexico). Only Italy has managed not to lose factory jobs since 2000.
Economist Joseph Schumpeter referred to this process witnessed in market economies as "creative destruction," where technology and innovation destroy some jobs while creating others. While the process works hardships on some, any attempt to impede the process will make all of us worse off.

Imagine for a moment that technology hadn't destroyed most of the jobs of those 41 percent of Americans working in agriculture in 1900. Where in the world would we have gotten the manpower to make all those goods produced now that weren't even imagined in 1900? Jobs destroyed through the market forces of creative destruction make us all better off, and that applies also to job destruction that comes from peaceable, voluntary exchange with people in different cities, states and countries.

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Charleston Becoming more User Friendly for Wireless Throughout the City

Young Professionals enjoy being connected at all times and having the ability to get to locations with a laptop to get work completed on a moments notice at any time of day. THIS is great news. For our focus on Young Professionals, this is very important. I'm pumped; Charleston is getting connected! Enjoy the article below from the Charleston Gazette.

Businesses offer wireless for customers

Ann Ali
Graphic by Kevin Cade

Daily Mail Staff Friday May 26, 2006

There's no such thing as a free lunch. But you can get free Internet with your lunch.

Wireless Internet -- or wifi, which is short for wireless fidelity -- has been available for a while at area coffee shops. But lately the wireless phenomenon has become a perk at other locations too.
Now, Kanawha Valley residents can use their laptops to surf the Web along with a Tudor's biscuit, Hooter's wings or a vehicle tuneup.

"The service is no longer a ‘nice to have.' People have to have it, and West Virginians are no different," said Scott Lewis, a spokesman for Anchor Free, a nationwide provider of Wireless Internet access and online directory of free wifi hot spots. "Wifi is no longer an amenity; it's a necessary service."

The allure of free, wireless Internet is making its way to some non-traditional computer locales. Lewis said his company is seeing a lot of Laundromats offer wireless Internet, and the most unusual place he has known of is his church near Chicago.

Lewis did not think West Virginia was behind on the trend. He said free Internet will start to take over the market.

"Pay service still trumps free service pretty handily, but the pendulum is really starting to swing the other direction," Lewis said.

In Charleston, customers who are waiting at Smith Company Motorcar can use their laptops to check the stocks in the Volvo service area. The business plans to have availability in each service area by the end of the year.

At Tudor's Biscuit World and Gino's Pizza locations, the wireless Internet service came with a security system, so offering it to the public presented no additional cost.

Unfortunately for the restaurants, not all Internet users come in for a biscuit or a slice of pie.
"People stop along the road, they just pull over, and I see them with their laptops," said Bob Jones of B&J Surveillance Services. "People think they're real discreet about it ‘cause they think they're stealing it."

The decision to offer wireless Internet at Coonskin Golf Course was not inspired by the leisure-seeking golfers but by the businesses and corporations hosting meetings in the golf course clubhouse.

"In order to keep the business we've got and entice more, it's something we needed to do," said Jeff Hutchinson, director of parks and recreation. "It was very inexpensive to do it, and it helped our business."

Hutchinson said the high-speed Internet allows clubhouse and office staff to transmit data better, but he does not expect to see golfers teeing up with their laptops set to sites providing details on improving your swing.

Yeager Airport was the third airport in the United States to offer free wifi, behind Lexington, Ky., and Allentown, Pa. Airport Director Rick Atkinson said the entire airport was equipped with wireless Internet for less than $10,000.

Atkinson said at first there was no antenna in the baggage claim area because he anticipated people passing through, collecting their luggage and leaving.

But airport managers got complaints of people losing their Internet signal on their PDAs (personal digital assistants) as they passed through, so an antenna was placed in the baggage claim area.

"There's not a time that I've walked through the terminal that there's not someone who has a laptop out," he said.

A Hooters restaurant provides an entertaining environment, so it's hard to believe Internet access would be necessary. But Manager Tim Skiles said he's seen a lot of business completed during lunch. The Internet access, which has been available for about three months, has not yet been advertised, he said.

"It's just word-of-mouth through the girls working on the floor," he said.
Area coffee shops such as Sofia's Gourmet Coffee and Taylor Books have long offered the free wireless service.

"There's not a place in here that you can't sit down and use your laptop," said John Welling, Panera Bread general manager. "I always tell people if some place doesn't offer it, hey, come over here because we do."

At Capitol Roasters, supervisor Kori Menking said she sees meetings take place during the week because of the wifi availability.

"We just kind of hope that they'll buy a drink while they're doing their stuff," she said.
Coffee drinkers at Hot Spot Coffee Shop on Oakhurst Drive in Charleston can send e-mail while smoking a cigarette, thanks to the coffee shop's license to house video lottery machines.
John Grass, manager of the Hot Spot Coffee Shop, said the decision to offer wifi came with his decision to upgrade his own service.

"There's no using it up; it costs the same," he said. "To me, there was no reason not to."
The UPS store in Kanawha City and 35th Street Beach, the bar located above UPS, offer Internet service for $10 an hour or $5 per half hour.

Many hotels offer wireless Internet but few offer the service for free. Every Microtel Inn offers free long distance phone calls and free Internet use.

"It was an idea that came through all the Microtels," said Rosa Fleck, Microtel Inn General Manager. "Most of our customers are the business, corporate people who do have their laptops with them."
Contact staff writer Ann Ali at 348-4819.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

More Growth at Yeager Airport.

Great to see continued positive development at Yeager Airport. The below article from the Charleston Gazette details hanger growth as well as a grant officials with the airport are working on to create direct flights to New York. If you are interested in writing a support letter, please contact for appropriate contact information.

May 25, 2006
Yeager to get hangar

By Jennifer Ginsberg
Staff writer

Pilots who fly in and out of Yeager Airport’s general aviation area will soon find a new place to park their planes.

The airport’s governing board approved a $620,000 loan from BB&T at its monthly meeting Wednesday to build a new common hangar. The new hangar will be 3,600 square feet larger than the current plane storage facility and should open in the fall.

The airport is building the hangar to give the growing aircraft maintenance business Reebaire Aircraft Inc. more space. Reebaire shares its hangar with other planes and needs more room to do business. Those other planes will move to the common hangar.

Support for flight to New York urged

In other business, airport marketing committee chairwoman Priscilla Haden urged board members and other community members to write letters to the U.S. Department of Transportation in support of a direct flight to New York City.

Airport officials applied for a federal $500,000 Small Communities Air Service Development Grant to use as an incentive for an airline to offer the flight. They should find out this fall if they received the money.

A Continental Airlines official asked Yeager’s marketing director Brian Belcher and director Rick Atkinson to apply for the grant during a January meeting. The official said the airline wants to expand its Newark, N.J., hub.

Belcher said he thought landing a direct flight to the New York City area was likely and that the grant would help start the service sooner. If Yeager receives the grant, Belcher envisions Continental starting the flight sometime next year.

Yeager received a grant from the federal program in 2002, which it used to entice Continental to start service to Houston. The grant paid for operating losses Continental incurred for those flights.

Belcher and Atkinson have meetings with five airlines, including Continental, next month at the Airports Council International’s JumpStart Conference in Austin, Texas. The duo will meet with airline route planners and focus on keeping and upgrading the service from Yeager’s five airlines.

To contact staff writer Jennifer Ginsberg, use e-mail or call 348-5195.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mmmmm More locations for Chocolate in Charleston.

From the Charleston Gazette
May 23, 2006
Holl's to open South Hills store

West Virginia-based chocolate seller Holl’s Chocolate opening a store in South Hills.

The company is moving into 1007 Bridge Road, former home of the Alex Franklin art store, said Holl’s President Dominique Holl.

The store is set to open in August or September and will occupy 1,750 square feet of the Alex Franklin space, which has been vacant since February.

“We really want to make this a showplace for our product,” Holl said.

Holl’s imports raw chocolate from Switzerland and refines it at its Vienna headquarters. It now has two stores, one in Vienna and one in Charleston’s Capitol Market.

The South Hills store will carry bigger gift packs and a broader range of chocolates than the Capitol Market store, as well as wines that go with chocolates and whole-bean coffee from the Columbus, Ohio-based small-batch roaster Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. The Capitol Market store carries neither wine nor coffee.

Unlike the Vienna shop, the South Hills location will sell tea and raw chocolate, Holl said.

Holl’s decided to expand in Charleston because the Capitol Market store has done well, Holl said. “We wanted to do this because we’ve been so well received by Charleston,” he said.

The South Hills spot was chosen in part because so many of Holl’s mail-order customers live there, Holl said.

Another tenant is close to signing a lease on the rest of the former Alex Franklin space, a 2,000-square-foot section, said Rick Rubin, who manages the property for owner South Hills Properties. Rubin said he couldn’t disclose the business’ name.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Energy czar leadscharge for coal plant

It is good to see my friend and colleague Paul Hardesty leading these efforts. Paul is well connected in the energy industry. He will serve the Governor and our citizens well. Good luck Paul, keep up the good work.

Article below from Charleston Daily Mail

Energy czar leadscharge for coal plant

George HohmannDaily Mail business editor Monday May 22, 2006

Gov. Joe Manchin has made several big coal-related promises over the past year. Now he has tapped Paul Hardesty to help turn those promises into reality.
"My charge, as I see it, is to put real, working deals together and make a commercially viable project happen in West Virginia," Hardesty said.
Last month, Manchin named Hardesty executive director of the West Virginia Public Energy Authority -- a new position.
The authority was created in the 1980s under the administration of Gov. Arch Moore to build coal-fired power plants, but that effort eventually fizzled. At Manchin's request, the West Virginia Legislature reconstituted the authority during a special session last year.
The authority has held several meetings but has not gotten much further than collecting information.
Still, as the agency has gotten underway and started gathering information, someone needed to step in to coordinate the efforts and keep the governor informed, said Manchin spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg.
"Paul was good enough to agree to add this duty to his responsibilities," Ramsburg said.

Until Hardesty's appointment, the authority had been directed by state Environmental Protection Secretary Stephanie Timmermeyer. She will continue as vice chairwoman.
Timmermeyer said the authority's big task is to come up with an energy plan for the state. "Paul's going to be a great person to lead that charge," she said.
But Hardesty said landing big energy projects is the ultimate goal.
Hardesty does not bring technical know-how to the job. He does not have a college degree. But he does know the West Virginia coal industry. His previous jobs include mining equipment sales, purchasing agent and mine manager. He also has political experience. He has served as Logan County administrator and served two terms on the Logan County Board of Education.
As head of the energy authority, it is his job to bring the players together to hammer out real projects, he said.
"I intend on being a deal maker," he said.

In 2001, Hardesty was named director of the Office of Coalfield Community Development, a unit of the West Virginia Development Office, by then-Gov. Bob Wise. The office was established in 1999 by the Legislature to figure out how to create a sustainable economy in southern West Virginia after the coal is mined.
Hardesty will continue to run that office. He said he is unsure how much time he will spend on the Public Energy Authority job.
If state Commerce Secretary Tom Bulla and development office Executive Director Steve Spence agree, Hardesty said he will recruit some people from various divisions of the development office to help the Public Energy Authority.
"We feel there's a wealth of knowledge in the development office," he said. "We will all pull together, try to make this thing work, and further West Virginia with the existing people we have."

Hardesty said he is looking at possibly moving the coalfield development office and its four employees closer to the office of Jeff Herholdt, manager of the development office's Energy Efficiency Office.
Herholdt has played a leading behind-the-scenes role in West Virginia's bid to attract the federal government's $1 billion, next-generation coal-fired power plant, called FutureGen.

Herholdt's office is on the 6th floor of Building 6 at the Capitol Complex. Hardesty's coalfield development office is on the 5th floor.
Hardesty said he is taking on the Public Energy Authority job at no increase to his $75,120 annual salary.

"Nothing is going to change in the fact that I go out and deal with coal companies and utility companies," he said. "The only difference now is, we've mined coal for years to put it in power plants and burn it. The governor is cognizant that there's a greater value to coal than just burning it and sending it up the smokestack. We're going to try to gasify it, liquefy it, make ammonium nitrate fertilizer and blasting agents that can be derived from coal gasification."
In February 2005, Manchin vowed that he would "leave no stone unturned" to convince American Electric Power that it should build a next-generation coal-fired power plant in West Virginia. The utility has applied to the state for permission to build a plant in Mason County, but has not yet made a definite decision on a site.
Hardesty said Manchin and Michael Morris, American Electric Power's chairman, president and chief executive officer, talk weekly. "They have a fantastic relationship, a mutual admiration," Hardesty said. "The governor has that project squarely on his radar screen."

Last December, Manchin vowed that West Virginia will become home to at least one plant that converts coal into liquid fuel by late 2008. No plan has yet been announced to locate a liquefaction plant in West Virginia.
Meanwhile, an alliance of companies and the federal Department of Energy are moving toward construction of FutureGen, a billion-dollar, next-generation, coal-fired power plant. Earlier this month Manchin announced West Virginia has proposed a 397-acre site for the plant at Lakin, north of Point Pleasant. That site is competing against 11 sites in six other states. The FutureGen Industrial Alliance's selection of a final site is scheduled to be announced in September 2007.
Hardesty said the projects represent an opportunity for West Virginia to lead instead of follow when it comes to energy efficiency and independence.
"We're uniquely situated to bring one of these type projects to a commercial standalone status," he said.

"A lot of states have chased after federal subsidies and tax dollars. Where I think West Virginia holds a better hand is, we have six or seven coal companies that are traded on public exchanges that are very strong financially and highly capitalized and can provide a feedstock of coal for a 20-year time frame -- which is what is going to be needed to take a proposal to Wall Street."
Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said Hardesty's position is significant because it represents a state commitment.
"Heretofore, it was an all-volunteer board," Raney said. "Now it's Paul's job.
"That's desperately needed to establish aggressive consistency, the momentum toward gaining these projects."

Contact writer George Hohmann at 348-4836.

Toyota celebrates10 years in W.Va.

George HohmannDaily Mail business editor

Monday May 22, 2006

Many of the dignitaries who gathered in Buffalo today to celebrate the Toyota plant's 10th anniversary drove to Putnam County in a Toyota.

The surging popularity of Toyota's products in West Virginia and across North America is the fundamental reason the Buffalo plant has expanded five times since ground was broken in 1996.
For Toyota, it has been an amazing ride.

The company had zero market share in West Virginia in 1967 when the late John Iaquinta of Fairmont became the first Toyota dealer in the state. Back then, there was even some hostility from some for whom World War II was a vivid memory.

That's all changed. Last year, the Toyota Corolla was the best-selling automobile in West Virginia. The Toyota Tacoma was the fifth best-selling truck.
During the decade since ground was broken at Buffalo, Toyota's U.S. market share has almost doubled, from 7.7 to 14.2 percent.

The popularity of the company's products has promoted Toyota to add North American production capacity at a stunning pace. In addition to the $1 billion Toyota has invested at Buffalo, the company has invested $15.8 billion in other North American plants and facilities.
Toyota is quick to advertise the fact that it employs 38,340 people in North America and has a $2.9 billion payroll on this continent.

In the year ended March 31, Toyota posted record revenue and income. The company is threatening to overtake General Motors Corp. as the world's largest car producer.
Toyota sold almost 2.6 million vehicles in North America in the financial year just ended. On average, 75 percent of the content of North American-built Toyotas is procured in North America, according to the company.

Toyota's growth in North America continues. In addition to the 12 plants the company already has on this continent, plants are under construction in Texas and Ontario and a Camry assembly line is being added in Indiana.

The Buffalo plant is a showcase for both West Virginia and Toyota. For West Virginia, it exemplifies Gov. Joe Manchin's "Open for Business" slogan. For Toyota, it has earned "best engine plant productivity" honors for three consecutive years from The Harbour Report North America, which evaluates 29 engine-manufacturing operations.
During a trade mission to Japan last year, Toyota executives told Manchin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., that the plant also is the top facility within Toyota.
Manchin and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., were expected to lead a state delegation at today's celebration of Toyota's success at Buffalo. Rockefeller, who spent years to convince Toyota to put the plant in West Virginia, is recuperating from back surgery and was unable to attend the celebration.

State legislators scheduled to attend were Sen. Karen Facemyer, R-Jackson; Sen. Charles Lanham, R-Mason, and Del. Brady Paxton, D-Putnam. Putnam County Commissioners James Caruthers and Joe Haynes were also expected to attend, as was Buffalo Mayor Kenneth Tucker.
A galaxy of Toyota executives was scheduled to be on hand, led by Takeshi Uchiyamada, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Corp. Uchiyamada was the chief engineer of the first generation Toyota Prius hybrid car.

Several others also were scheduled to make the long trip from Japan.
One of the Japanese guests, Tomoya Toriumi, is a familiar face. He was the first president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia Inc., having worked here from before the Buffalo plant was built until 2002.

Toriumi is now executive vice president of Somic Ishikawa Inc., a manufacturer of ball joints and other automotive parts.

Contact writer George Hohmann at or 348-4836.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

One Big Ink Spot. Charleston Gazette Focuses on Print Industry Plans for West Virginia.

May 16, 2006
One big ink spot

Developers pitch Kanawha Valley as print industry hub

By Eric Eyre
Staff writer
Photo's by Lawrence Pierce

They already have a catchy slogan: “Charleston, West Virginia. We have ink on our hands.”

State and local economic development leaders are trying to sell the Kanawha Valley as a potential hub for the growing print industry.

The Charleston Area Alliance, state Development Office and West Virginia University Institute of Technology have teamed up to lure printing companies here.

“We’re trying to brand ourselves for the print industry,” said Matt Ballard, a business recruiter for the Alliance’s development group. “The reality is there’s no true center for the print industry in the U.S.”

But Charleston could be it.

There’s a state university nearby with one of the top printing programs in the nation.

And printed products — books, magazines, shopping guides, advertising inserts, food labels — could be shipped from Charleston to 60 percent of the United States and 30 percent of Canada in a single day.

Two weeks ago, Ballard joined WVU Tech professor Jack Nuckols and other Charleston economic development leaders at a conference in Louisville, Ky., where they promoted the Valley as a potential site for printing businesses.

The conference was hosted by the Flexographic Technical Association, an industry group made up of companies that primarily manufacture labels through a process called flexographic printing.

Nearly 80 percent of all consumer products have labels with flexographic print. Some newspapers also use the process.

“It’s the most widely expanding part of the industry,” said Nuckols, who heads the print degree program at Tech in Montgomery. “You can’t sell a food product without a proper label on it to tell people what’s inside.”

Tech recently bought a flexographic printer after getting a $192,000 grant from the West Virginia Development Office. Tech students already are training on the printer.

The college plans to lease the printer to start-up companies. Print industry workers also would come to the university and get training on the printer.

Tech, which has offered a print management degree since 1948, already trains students and workers from throughout the United States on its Goss International Corp. newspaper press.

At the Louisville conference, Nuckols ran into many Tech grads, some of whom work as executives in the print industry. Ballard and Nuckols hope that Tech alumni will return to West Virginia and start a printing business or open a satellite manufacturing plant.

“The idea is to attract people from all over the U.S. and

try to convince them to establish a business here,” Nuckols said. “Maybe a West Coast company would want to come here.”

West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle and the nearby Virginia suburbs of Washington already have become a small hub for the print industry, Nuckols said.

Martinsburg-based Quad Graphics, which has 1,110 workers, prints National Geographic magazine, the Victoria’s Secret catalogs and Kmart advertising inserts.

Nearby are two book manufacturers: Virginia-based Berryville Graphics, which has about 850 employees, and Quebecor World, a Canadian company with about 400 workers in Martinsburg.

Nuckols estimates that more than 3,000 people work in the print industry within a 50-mile radius of Martinsburg.

By the end of the year, Tech plans to open a National Publishing Innovation Center, which will include an ink-testing lab, distance learning auditorium and a press operation computer simulation lab. Major newspaper chains have donated more than $500,000 to the center.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., presented a $300,000 check to the university Monday. The federal money will be used to fund interior construction.

The printing industry remains strong, Nuckols said, even though some consumers have drifted away from magazines and newspapers to the Internet.

There are about 30,700 printing companies in the United States, accounting for $112 billion in business, according to the 2006 “U.S. Industry & Market Outlook” report by the Barnes Reports market researchers.

Ballard and Nuckols want to bring the flexographic printing conference to Charleston in 2009 — “to show West Virginia to the world,” Nuckols said. By then, they hope several small printing businesses will be up and running in the Valley.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for West Virginia to become a leader in the print industry,” he said.

To contact staff writer Eric Eyre, use e-mail or call 348-4869.

A publishing industry resource center on Tech’s campus, featuring a distance-learning auditorium and computer simulation lab, is to open this year.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

West Virginia getting some attention in Buffalo; New York That Is!


Well it appears that name similarity is getting West Virginia and its highly successful Toyota plant some attention in The Empire State. You see, everyone knows Buffalo New York, but not everyone is aware of Buffalo West Virginia. That is beginning to change.

Recently, Toyota published some promotional materials that were featured in the Wall Street Journal. In fact, it was a full page ad, "Fairy Tale of the Plant that Never Stopped Growing," describing the success Toyota has found in West Virginia. The Toyota plant is located in Buffalo, West Virginia, Putnam County.

Recently an analyst for "The Buffalo News" (NY) took at look at the Toyota Plant in Buffalo West Virginia. The results are clear, they are objective, and they are right! - WEST VIRGINIA IS A GREAT PLACE TO DO BUSINESS!

From the Buffalo News (New York)

Auto plant thrives in Buffalo (Buffalo, West Virginia, that is)

While American auto industry founders,Toyota finds formula for success

BUFFALO, W.Va. - Along Route 62 not far from the dusty diamond where the Bisons play ball, you'll find a sprawling modern industrial complex that would be the envy of the bigger Buffalo.
Toyota's ads call it "the plant that never stopped growing."
This glimmering modern engine and transmission plant expanded five times since its groundbreaking a decade ago and has enough land left to double in size. Already it employs 1,100, about equal to the population of the hardscrabble hillside hamlet it calls home.
Meanwhile, 400 miles to the northeast, 2,500 employees at the General Motors Powertrain plant in the Town of Tonawanda and 3,800 at Delphi Corp.'s Lockport facility have their eyes on New York City. There, a bankruptcy court judge this week will consider whether to void Delphi's labor contracts, possibly prompting a strike that could kill thousands of jobs at both companies.
To understand how GM and Delphi, its onetime parts division, ended up in such a fix, it helps to look at what happened in the past decade in this rural river valley 45 minutes northwest of Charleston.

Here, Toyota Motor Corp. invested $1 billion to implement its policies, policies that threaten to dethrone GM as the world's largest automaker.
Experts said those policies - including hiring a well-paid nonunion work force that can work faster and more flexibly than a rules-laden union shop make it unlikely Toyota would ever build a plant in the bigger Buffalo.

The two Buffalos couldn't be any more different.
Here, the Bisons are a high school team, and Route 62 bisects a village made up of trailers and worn wood-frame houses. Folks like to relax in lawn chairs on their front yards and often wave to their neighbors as they drive by. And the town hall is open only three hours a day.
"It's the sort of place where people work hard and then go home to their families or go out and enjoy the hunting and fishing and backpacking that West Virginia has to offer," said David Hobba, a local real estate developer.
This is just the sort of place Toyota loves.

When the Japanese auto giant was looking for a location for an American engine plant in the mid-1990s, its executives found themselves charmed by the hilly West Virginia terrain and the "strong family values-type environment," said David N. Copenhaver, one of the company's first employees in the state.
"West Virginians have traditionally been very hard-working people," said Copenhaver, now vice president of Toyota's West Virginia operation.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and governors from both parties spent years courting Toyota. Finally the state offered a $2 million grant and untold tax benefits, and promised to improve access to the interstate, if Toyota agreed to build a plant in a field at Buffalo's southern edge.
Yet experts said the nature of the state and its people mattered more than the incentives.
A company with its roots in rural Japan, Toyota has long been partial to out-of-the-way locales, said James P. Womack, author of "The Machine That Changed the World," a landmark book about the company.

Toyota cherishes loyal employees and figures workers will be more loyal in rural burgs where it's not so easy to find another job down the road.
"They're looking for farmers," Womack said. "They like that country-people reliability. They're comfortable with a lack of sophistication."
Buffalo is the smallest town on Toyota's manufacturing map, but the company also has big factories in such unheralded spots as Georgetown, Ky., and Princeton, Ind.
"You'll notice they're not here in Michigan," said Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for IRN Inc., a Grand Rapids-based automotive consulting firm.

Distance from unions

There's a reason for that. Several experts said Toyota doesn't want to build plants in places like Detroit and Buffalo, N.Y., because workers there might have picked up bad habits in old-line unionized auto plants.
"Why not Buffalo? Industrial workers in Buffalo know too much about the wrong way to do things," Womack said.
While Toyota also has major facilities in or near big cities like San Antonio, none of its plants are in big union towns. Neither are the places where other "transplants" such as Honda and Hyundai build their stateside plants.
At the Toyota plant in Buffalo, the last unionizing effort came in 2003. It fizzled without ever coming to a vote.
"One of the reasons why the transplants have gone down south is because unions are not necessarily well-received in those areas," said Kevin Donovan, Buffalo area director of the United Auto Workers.
The transplants also like states such as West Virginia because they won't be encumbered by big government and high taxes there, industry experts said.
West Virginia ranks 21st nationwide in state and local taxes, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation reports.
New York's are the nation's second-highest.
"A lot of it has to do with business climate," Copenhaver said. "Either you have a business-friendly climate or you don't."
Copenhaver spoke from experience. Before joining Toyota, he had a job trying to lure companies to South Carolina and occasionally traveled to Buffalo, N.Y., to troll for prospects.

"The Toyota Way"

West Virginia's business climate could not have been any friendlier to Toyota. Eight years after it produced its first engine, the Buffalo plant is seen as one of the industry's best.
It's all because the West Virginians who work here learned "The Toyota Way," an unusual management approach that aims to make cars better, faster and cleaner than anybody else.
It is working. Toyota's share of the U.S. auto market has more than doubled in the last 20 years, while GM's has fallen by a third.
In other words, while "legacy" pension and health insurance costs, as well as disappointing new car models, are often cited as the root causes of GM's problems, the Toyota Way stands in GM's way, too.
"Within every segment of the market, Toyota is able to make a lot more money [from its products] than GM or Ford," said Womack, who now runs the Lean Enterprise Institute, which promotes the kind of efficient manufacturing developed at Toyota. "And an awful lot of people are looking for what they make a quality product that works."
Toyotas have ranked at or near the top of most auto quality ratings for two decades, and the secret of that success can be seen on the vast, brightly clean factory floor of its Buffalo plant.
The secret: a melding of man and machine that is designed to produce a perfect product while keeping the man or woman at the machine engaged and healthy.

Mixing it up

The Toyota plant functions very differently than the typical unionized auto plant, where strict work rules tend to narrowly define everyone's job.
As Toyota engines slowly roll down the assembly line, each worker performs as many as a dozen tasks, far more than in many older factories.
Every two hours, workers shift to a different job, so they don't get bored and are less likely to get repetitive-stress injury.
And above all, Toyota employees are infused with the goal of consistently improving the plant and its products.
"There's a greater level of engagement on the part of employees," said Greg Gardner, an analyst with Harbour Consulting, a management consulting firm in suburban Detroit. "And that increased focus prevents defects."
What's more, it allows Toyota to build engines faster. Harbour has named the Buffalo facility the nation's most productive engine plant for three years running.
"Their plants are much newer, so they're very flexible, not only from a work-rule standpoint but in terms of the latest in machinery and equipment," Merkle said.
Of course, not every potential employee will mesh with the Toyota Way. Gerald C. Meyers, a Buffalo native who once chaired American Motors, said the company screens out people who might cause trouble.
"The deal essentially is: You will work very, very hard, you will be paid very, very well, and you will not join a union," Meyers said.

Keeping workers happy

Pay at the West Virginia plant starts at about $19 an hour, about what one would make at a UAW facility, and jobs come with full health care benefits and a 401(K) retirement plan, several sources said.
Toyota employees will never enjoy the kind of early retirement plans and generous pensions that were promised to workers at GM and Delphi. Nevertheless, people in West Virginia said Toyota is just about the best employer around.
"Some people there drive three hours a day to get to work," said Gary Walton, executive director of the economic development agency in Putnam County, which includes Buffalo.
And slowly, those good jobs are changing the face of Putnam County. Buffalo's housing looks a bit ramshackle, but new subdivisions are sprouting to the north and south.
County unemployment, 1.4 percentage points above the national average a decade ago, is now a bit lower than the nationwide rate.
Things could get even better for the region. Copenhaver said he expects the plant's automatic transmission operation Toyota's first in America to continue growing.
That's especially likely to happen in light of Toyota's bright future. For proof of how much investors think of Toyota, note that the total value of its stock is higher than GM's, Ford's and Daimler/Chrysler's - combined.

The fear factor

Analysts said Toyota is afraid of only one thing.
"They're frightened to death that America will turn against them for overtaking the U.S. market and putting American auto workers out of work and some companies out of business," said Meyers, who now teaches at the University of Michigan.
To counter that, you'll find Toyota ads on television and in Newsweek and the New Yorker, touting the wonders of its plant in Buffalo, W.Va.
"What makes the story so exciting is that quite a few of Toyota's plants are growing," the print ad says. "Just like the one in Buffalo. Just like the company called Toyota. It's a true story, a happy story, and best of all, a story with no end in sight."
Walton, the local development director, agreed while acknowledging one regret.
He wishes Putnam County had more flat land, so it might be able to lure the next Toyota assembly plant, which experts expect to be built in some southern state.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Future Gen Article from the Charleston Gazette.

W.Va. site competes with 11 others for FutureGen
by George HohmannDaily Mail business editor Wednesday May 10, 2006

West Virginia's competition for the federal government's billion-dollar FutureGen project is now clear: 11 sites in six other states.
Last week Gov. Joe Manchin announced West Virginia has proposed a 397-acre site at Lakin, north of Point Pleasant, for the next-generation, coal-fired power plant. There were reports about other proposed sites, but the complete list was revealed by U.S. Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman on Tuesday.
Four of the proposed sites are in Illinois, two are in Ohio and two are in Texas. Kentucky, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming each proposed one site.
The sites proposed by Ohio are in Meigs and Tuscarawas counties. The site proposed by Kentucky is in Henderson County.
Bodman said in a prepared statement, "FutureGen will be a stepping stone toward a cleaner, more energy-secure future. We are extremely pleased that we have 12 quality locations now in the running.
"One of these sites ultimately will become known worldwide as the place where a new generation of zero-emission energy plants made its debut," Bodman said.
The proposed sites were submitted to the FutureGen Industrial Alliance, a coalition of companies that are partnering with the federal Department of Energy to design and build the power plant. Last Thursday was the deadline to submit proposals.
Mike Mudd, the alliance's chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement, "The level of and number of proposals indicates the growing recognition of the important role that technologies using abundant, low-cost coal will play in securing our energy future with affordable electricity and minimal environmental impacts."
Competition for FutureGen is keen, primarily because of the jobs it is expected to create. The plant is expected to employ 1,300 during peak construction and generate a construction payroll of $250 million, according to the alliance. The plant is expected to have a permanent workforce of 150.
The FutureGen Industrial Alliance said it intends to deliver a list of finalist sites to the federal Energy Department this summer following a rigorous evaluation. The alliance's selection of a final site is scheduled to be announced in September 2007.
Plant start-up is planned for 2012.
Contact writer George Hohmann at 348-4836.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

High Tech U.K. Firm to Locate in Kanawha County
Photo By Jama Burton

Applied Computing & Engineering, a company specializing since 1987 in the development and marketing of computer software for simulating engineering design and manufacturing processes, announced they will be establishing a North American office in West Virginia. The company, based in the United Kingdom, will locate an office at the Chemical Alliance Zone Incubator at the South Charleston Dow Technology Park and begin to develop new clients in the U.S. market. Applied Computing currently works with such respected companies as Boeing, Rolls Royce, Nissan Motors, Daimler Chrysler, Jaguar Cars, and Airbus Industries.

"We are eager to open our West Virginia operation," said Dr Stewart Allinson, Managing Director of Applied Computing. Yash Khandhia, Technical Director for Applied Computing believes the Charleston operation will become significant in the first two years. "If our plans succeed, we will move a substantial portion of our software development operations to Charleston. In two years we anticipate that we may have up to ten graduate engineers working in software development and technical support."

Applied Computing has been working with Advantage Valley and Charleston Area Alliance for months on completing their move to the United States. "We are pleased Applied Computing will be locating in Charleston. They have chosen the right place when it comes to finding a wealth of brain power to further develop their business," said Bill Goode, President of the Charleston Alliance.

Charleston Area Alliance, Advantage Valley, Putnam County EDA, and the Huntington Area Development Corporation have been working together with a European consulting firm, U.K. Trade and Investment and the Business Link Warrington to assist companies such as Applied Computing in gaining knowledge about business opportunities in West Virginia. The groups believe this relationship may help augment the successes the West Virginia Development Office is experiencing. "It is exciting that our groups are partnered together, without regard to geographic boundaries, working toward a better economy for West Virginia," said Matthew Ballard, Executive Vice President of the Charleston Alliance.

"Applied Computing's move to West Virginia is great news for our region's high tech economy. They will be the first of what we hope will be a significant trend; technology-oriented firms taking advantage of the CAZ Incubator and the South Charleston Technology Park to grow their businesses in West Virginia. The environment in the Park, with its infrastructure, the presence of Dow, Bayer, EDS, CDI, Battelle, MATRIC and the involvement of the universities offers small technology-oriented firms an ideal environment to access expertise, resources and partnerships," said John Maher, Executive Director of the Chemical Alliance Zone

To find out more about Applied Computing, please visit their website at The Charleston Alliance web page is located at, the Chemical Alliance Zone at and Advantage Valley at

In June or July of 2006, Dr. Allinson and Mr. Khandhia will be back in West Virginia. If you would like to meet the leaders of this new company or believe your company might be in need of their technology, please contact Matthew Ballard at the Charleston Area Alliance.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Students In Kanawha County Learn the In's, Out's, and Challenges of City Planning.

May 08, 2006
Model citizens
Students play city planners for a day
By Eric EyreStaff writer
It wasn’t until the developers arrived that things got dicey.
About two dozen eighth-graders from John Adams Middle School designed a mock city last week at the West Virginia State Theater in Charleston. They plunked down cereal and shoe boxes that represented downtown buildings. They set aside land for a zoo, peach orchard, parks and a small beach and performing arts center. Everything was darn near perfect.
But then the “evil” developers arrived.
They wanted to level the park and build a cigarette factory. They wanted to raze the historic district and put up a giant shopping center. They planned to tear down a church and open a liquor store in its place.
That’s when the arguments started.
The students playing the role of environmentalists howled. The “mayor” and “city council members” were up in arms. The debate was heated.
“Now you’re starting to see what city council meetings are like,” said Linda Harper, an Arlington, Va.-based planning consultant who facilitated the land-use planning program for students last week.
“All day long, you’ve worked really well, and all of a sudden, the issues get put on the table and you’re like cats and dogs.”
The students were taking part in a pilot program called “Planners R Us.” The Charleston Area Alliance, a local economic development group, sponsored the program. Funding was provided by the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.
It was a chance for students to build a city from scratch.
They started with nothing but a large white sheet and a few roads scrawled across it.
Then they generated a list of what communities need to function: schools, utilities, police and fire departments, grocery stores and hospitals. They fashioned office buildings out of cardboard boxes and dropped them on the sheet. They added parks, libraries and retail shops.
At one point each student was handed a plastic “berry basket” and assigned an occupation. They rushed to find the best location for their office or store in the mock city.
Eighth-grader Emma Grose was an innkeeper, searching for a site for a bed and breakfast inn. Her classmates were quickly dropping their baskets throughout the city. The empty spaces were filling up.
“By the factory?” Grose asked her teacher.
“A B&B by a factory?” wondered teacher Mary Francis Williams.
“But there’s no room anywhere else,” Grose said.
At length, Grose squeezed her basket between a pet shop and jewelry store, just a few doors down from the Cool and Cream ice cream parlor.
“I wanted it to be a little far from the downtown hotel and residential area,” Grose later explained. “But near the university, if parents wanted to stay there.”
Earlier, students met with Charleston, S.C., Mayor Joe Riley, who was in town to give a speech at the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s annual conference.
Riley, an eight-term mayor, praised students for wanting to protect historic buildings. He said city planning should start with ideas from locals. You don’t have to be a planning expert to build a successful city, he said.
“Now you start with the citizens, with the people in the neighborhoods,” Riley said. “What are their values, what are their hopes and dreams?”
Susie Salisbury, community development director with the Charleston Area Alliance, said the organization might expand the pilot land-use planning program to other Kanawha County middle schools next year.
The hands-on program gives students a chance to think about where they live, how to make their community better and how to balance economic development with environmental concerns.
“They’re learning about business, land use, environmental issues, social issues,” Salisbury said. “It’s a way to introduce kids to community planning. Some of them could wind up some day on a municipal planning commission. Or they could become mayor.”
To contact staff writer Eric Eyre, use e-mail or call 348-4869.

Friday, May 05, 2006

East End Main Street Charleston Wins Big at Annual Award Ceremony

If you haven’t been to the East End of Charleston recently, things are on the move. Thanks to the hard work of Mary Alice Hodgson, East End Main Street Program Manager, a host of volunteers, and the spirit of the businesses and citizens of the East End, many awards were bestowed to our program at the recent Main Street Annual Celebration.

Awards Taken Home by the Team:

Best state-wide example of exterior historic building rehabilitation for a large community: State Theater

Best state-wide example of interior historic building rehabilitation for a large community: Bluegrass Kitchen (take it from me, the food is good!)

Continuing Education Award

Best Comprehensive Committee Award for a large community organization.

Program Manager of the Year for a Large Community – Mary Alice Hodgson

Congratulations to all the winners and the East End Community, the true winner!

Further congratulations go to West Side Main Street, Program Manager Jennifer Jordan, and St. Albans Main Street. We look forward to the future sucesses of each of these Main Street Programs.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Automotive Company Comes to Putnam County

Congratualtions to our good friend and partner in Economic Development, Gary Walton, Executive Director of the Putnam County EDA.

Gov. Manchin and Sen. Rockefeller Welcome the Company to West Virginia

ELEANOR, W.Va. – Gov. Joe Manchin, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and representatives from Meiji Corporation today announced the location of a 2,000-square-foot sales office and warehouse in the Appalachian Rail Car Building in the Eleanor Industrial Park.

“Employment in the state’s automotive industry is growing as companies from across the globe realize the advantages of West Virginia’s strategic position on the East Coast automotive corridor,” said Gov. Manchin. “We thank Meiji Corporation for their investment and welcome them to the growing, international automotive community in Putnam County.”

“Today’s announcement of Meiji locating an office and warehouse in West Virginia is another example of economic development breeding more economic development,” said Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV). “We’re glad that Meiji is coming to West Virginia, we look forward to working with them, and we are looking forward to the jobs they will bring to West Virginia. I think everyone knows that the Mountain State has become a home for the nation’s automotive industry.”

Based in Nagoya, Japan, the company distributes factory automation components, specializing in equipment for the automotive industry but also serving the chemical, plastics, steel, printing and food processing industries.

“Meiji Corporation is locating in Putnam County to support the Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia plant as well as the Japanese plants supporting TMMWV in the area,” said Courtney Williams, account manager for Meiji Corporation. “We look forward to building long-lasting relationships with our West Virginia clients and expanding our opportunities within the industries we serve.”

The West Virginia Development Office, and the Putnam County Development Authority played key roles in bringing the company to the state.

“We are extremely pleased to have another Japanese company join Putnam County’s economic family,” said Gary Walton, executive director of the Putnam County Development Authority.

Meiji Corporation’s U.S. headquarters is in Elkgrove Village, Illinois. The company’s West Virginia office will serve as a branch of their Lexington, Kentucky, location. For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

West Virginia Strong in Education:

Despite recent stories concerning lack of geographic aptitude by US students, West Virginia's students are excelling in all areas of academics. Consider the following educational bits!

-George Washington High School moved up nearly 400 spots in the most recent issue of Newsweek Magazine's "America's Best High Schools".

Last year, GW was ranked 810. This year they came in at 422. Newsweek ranks the top 1000 high schools each year. GW's jump of more than 400 places is thanks to a surge of Advanced Placement classes.

-Members of the Herbert Hoover debate team departed for Washington, DC last week in hopes of snagging a national trophy.

The team made up of twenty-four seniors, will participate in "We the People...The Citizen and the Constitution", a nationally acclaimed program that helps students understand the history and principles of constitutional government.

-Students from Capitol High School will compete against 64 other teams at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Science Bowl.

Teams from 42 states are vying for the championship. The science bowl is one of the nation's largest academic competitions.

The Education Division of the Charleston Area Alliance is led by Leanne Stowers, Vice President of Education. As Leanne points out, "Today's Students are Tomorrow's Leaders." It's good to see our students of today preparing for their future roles.