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.

Monday, July 31, 2006

2nd Annual East End Walk for Safety

The East End Main Street Program is hosting our 2nd Annual East End Walk for Safety. Come join us as we walk/tour our East End neighborhood and learn more about clean and safe issues that affect our residents and businesses.

This event is being held as part of the National Night Out on Crime. If we are serious about making our neighborhood a great place to live, work and play you'll join our volunteers, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, Representatives from the Charleston Police Department, Planning Department, Building Department, EE Community Association and others as we hit the streets to take a good hard look at what we're doing right and what we need to improve.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Straight's Laundry
Corner of Washington St. E and Ruffner Ave.

So, what happens after we take our good hard look? The new EEMS committee "Clean and Safe" will start work on addressing these issues that our community identifies. The first committee meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2006 at 5:00, at the Charleston Area Alliance, 1116 Smith Street. Anyone is welcome!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Alliance accepting applications for leadership program
The Charleston Area Alliance is accepting applications for the fall 2006-spring 2007 class of its leadership development program, Leadership Kanawha Valley.

The program curriculum includes team building, time management, strategic planning, negotiation, media training, business etiquette and change management.

Participants commit to attend classes, which will be held once a month from October through May. The registration fee is $495. Deadline for applications is Sept. 1.

For more information or to obtain an application, visit the Alliance Website at or call Susie Salisbury at 340-4253.

Hotel to be built downtown

From the Charleston Gazette

By Eric Eyre
Staff writer

An Albany, N.Y.-based developer wants to build an “upscale” hotel in downtown Charleston, most likely across the street from the Charleston Town Center mall on a site now occupied by the county health department.

“We are interested in developing a hotel in the city of Charleston if the opportunity presents itself,” said Tim O’Byrne, site selection specialist with BBL Development Group in New York. “The stuff we’ve been talking about has been very preliminary.”

BBL representatives have been meeting with Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, Kanawha County Commissioners Kent Carper and Dave Hardy, and Charleston Area Alliance development group leaders in recent weeks.

Jones said Wednesday that BBL was “absolutely serious” about building a hotel with about 120 rooms.

The company, which has a construction division based in Charleston called BBL-Carlton, is building a $14 million Hilton Garden Inn in Albany and a $10 million Spring Hill Suites beside Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. BBL completed a new Residence Inn in East Greenbush, N.Y., last year.

“We need upscale,” Jones said. “We don’t need another discount hotel. It would just complement all the other hotels in the area.”

The new hotel would likely compete against the Charleston Marriott and Embassy Suites in downtown Charleston.

Room rates at Hilton Garden Inns start at about $120 a night, while Spring Hill Suites’ rooms cost about $100 a night.

O’Byrne said BBL Development would have to move “further along in the process” before discussing what hotel chains might be interested in opening in downtown Charleston. He referred additional questions to Jones.

“We definitely could use another downtown hotel, especially at the mall,” Jones said.

BBL-Carlton has built dozens of projects in West Virginia, including the Appalachian Power baseball park, Charleston Newspapers’ parking garage and the Mount Olive Correctional Complex.

Earlier this year, Jones and Carper suggested moving the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and selling the property to a private developer. The health department sits across the street from the Charleston Civic Center and diagonally opposite the Town Center mall.

Jones said BBL was interested in building the hotel on that property.

Carper and Jones have said a nearby city-owned garage could be connected by bridge to a new hotel on the health department site. City officials have estimated the property could fetch about $2.6 million.

The property doesn’t generate property tax revenue now because the county owns it.

Jones said the city could offer a site owned by the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority as a new home for the health department.

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

Alliance to redo building's exterior on East End

The Charleston Area Alliance has spent more than $1 million renovating the inside of its offices on Smith Street on Charleston’s East End.

Now, leaders of the Kanawha Valley economic development group want to spruce up the outside of the building.

Alliance Chairman Jack Rossi announced the start of a campaign to raise $350,000 for the renovations, which would include painting, roof work and turning a loading dock area into a new entrance.

“It would do worlds for the East End of Charleston, if we could accomplish that,” Rossi said during a meeting Monday.

In addition to the Alliance’s offices, the building also serves as a “business incubator” for several small companies.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Two new eateries at Southridge.

From the Charleston Daily Mail:

Charleston Daily Mail


Southridge gets
2 new restaurants

George Hohmann
Daily Mail business editor

Thursday July 20, 2006
A deli, a barbecue restaurant and an expanded cell phone store are preparing to open at Southridge Centre.

The deli, Sabatino Bros., is set to open in the late afternoon Monday, said John Kaiser. Kaiser and John Smallridge are owners of the deli, which is the first of its kind. Kaiser and Smallridge also are partners in the Steak Escape chain of restaurants.

Sabatino Bros. will offer cheese steaks, but "we're going to hand-slice black Angus in the store," Kaiser said. "That's going to bring such a flavor to our cheese steak, people are going to go wild about it. Ours will be a more authentic Philly style."

Kaiser said the menu of 20 to 30 sandwiches is based on sandwiches he and Smallridge have discovered during their travels. "We'll have several additional subs like the Southridge, which will have fresh turkey breast, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo," he said. "It tastes just like Thanksgiving dinner."

Another sandwich will consist of hummus flatbread with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce.

"We'll have no fried food at all," Kaiser said. The restaurant will have salads and there's a kids' menu.

The restaurant is in front of the Big Sandy Superstore and next to MaggieMoo's Ice Cream and Treatery. Sabatino Bros. will have about 50 seats. It will serve breakfast.

Starting Tuesday, "We're looking at opening as early as 6 a.m. and staying open until 11 p.m., probably until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays," Kaiser said. "There's a tremendous movie crowd out here around midnight.

"We want to be a neighborhood deli style restaurant, where people can come in and just relax," Kaiser said. "We hope some of the people who work the early morning and late night shifts out here will want a place to sit down and relax before they head in to work or head home."

The restaurant will employ 20 to 25 people. Kaiser said the restaurant is still hiring and is offering starting pay as high as $9 an hour.

Asked how the restaurant got its name, Kaiser said he and Smallridge played around with several names "and this is the one we liked."

Famous Dave's Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que is moving into the space formerly occupied by Char House. Mark Donahue, one of the owners, said Sept. 15 is the targeted opening date.

Donahue said he, his brother Tim and their father, Rex Donahue, own the Famous Dave's franchise rights in West Virginia. "We have to build a minimum of three restaurants and we're looking for five or six," he said. The Donahues operate under the corporate name Almost Heaven Ribs Inc. They opened their first restaurant, in Barboursville, last December.

The Char House space has been vacant since early last year.

Cingular Wireless is taking over the building at Southridge's front entrance that was formerly occupied by A&W Rootbeer and Long John Silver's.

"We are so excited about this," said Alexa Kaufman, Cingular's regional director of public relations. "We're going to put big orange awnings out front so you'll be really able to see it."

Cingular has had a store at Southridge back near Big Sandy for almost five years. Even though that location is a little off the beaten path, "it is one of the top-performing stores in the Charleston area," Kaufman said. "So we have high hopes for the new location."

The move will triple Cingular's store size at Southridge.

Tim Bondurant is manager of the existing store and also will manage the new store. His staff of 10 also will move over to the new store. "A lot of the folks have been there four or five years," Kaufman said. "It's a topnotch team."

Cingular plans to open at the new location in early September. The high-visibility spot has been vacant since A&W and Long John Silver's left one year ago.

"The tenant mix at Southridge is very strong," said Georgette Rashid George, a spokeswoman for RidgeLine Inc. "We're excited about the expansion of Cingular into its own building. And we're excited about all of the new tenants coming in."

RidgeLine Inc. is the landowner at Southridge Centre and manages a portion of the shopping complex.

The deli, barbecue restaurant and expanded cellphone store aren't the only new businesses at Southridge. Sporting goods retailer Gander Mountain Co. is remodeling most of the former Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse building at Southridge and turning it into a store for outdoor enthusiasts.

Contact writer George Hohmann at 348-4836.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Report from Young Professionals Housing Liason


TO: Charleston Area Alliance Young Professionals

FROM: Charles Roskovensky

RE: Ad Hoc Housing Committee

DATE: July 6, 2005

The Ad Hoc Housing Committee met at 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, June 27, 2006. The meeting took place at West Virginia Housing Development Fund's first floor conference room located at 814 Virginia Street East.

Sam Wood, professional engineer and home inspector, presented to the committee. Mr. Wood discussed the recent legislation requiring the licensure of home inspectors in West Virginia. Home Inspectors will be licensed by the State Fire Marshall and certification will begin starting in August. Mr. Wood examined and explained the new rule and commented on the educational, experience and testing requirements. Also, included within the rule is: what must be included in a home inspection; defines unethical conduct; and creates penalties for prohibitive acts.

Mr. Howard Tyree, Committee Facilitator and Area Manager, Southern Field Office West Virginia Housing Development Fund, informed the committee that the Governor’s Conference on Housing will take place in Charleston on September 27, 28 and 29. The conference discusses many housing issues and more importantly sets housing policy for the next 10 to 15 years. This would be an excellent opportunity for young professionals to get involved in the housing discussion which could potentially impact young professional for many years to come.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chesapeake Energy To Build New Eastern headquarters in West Virginia.

From the Charleston Daily Mail

Gas company to build
division headquarters at NorthGate

George Hohmann
Daily Mail business editor

Tuesday July 18, 2006
Chesapeake Energy announced today it has purchased 27 acres at NorthGate Business Park for its Eastern Division headquarters.

Michael John, vice president of operations, said Chesapeake picked the privately-owned business park off Greenbrier Street because of its campus-like setting and proximity to Yeager Airport and Interstates 64 and 77.

Chesapeake's NorthGate property is near the Ticketmaster building, he said.

Asked if Chesapeake looked at many other sites, John said, "I would say we gave it careful consideration. We looked at what we believed to be all of the sites in the immediate area that had potential. Given our space needs and the fact that we have to accommodate for growth in the future, this was the clear winner."

The company said earlier this year it wants a signature structure that helps emphasize Chesapeake's commitment to West Virginia. John said architectural details are still being finalized.

"I would expect the first building to be no more than four stories and I would expect the first building to accommodate 200 employees," he said.

Chesapeake currently leases space in the City Center West tower where it has 140 employees, he said.

The company hopes to break ground early this fall and move in sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, John said.

He described the headquarters as "the first building on a piece of property that can easily accommodate multiple buildings."

John said Chesapeake has contracted with Silling and Associates of Charleston as the local engineering firm for construction. Silling will team with Elliott and Associates, an Oklahoma City-based architectural firm that has done work for Chesapeake at the company's corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City.

"The important point is, Elliot's involvement allows us to ensure consistency of design of the campus here with the campus in Oklahoma," he said. The Oklahoma campus contains 19 buildings. About 1,800 employees work there. None of the buildings there is taller than four stories.

John said Chesapeake is pleased to begin work and fulfill the promise of building the division headquarters that Gov. Manchin mentioned during his State-of-the-State address in January.

Chesapeake Energy bought Columbia Natural Resources for $2.2 billion in November from Charleston-based Triana Energy. Before the deal, Chesapeake Energy's natural gas exploration and drilling activities were focused in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana.

Chesapeake Energy is the second largest independent producer of natural gas in the country.

Contact writer George Hohmann at or 348-4836.

West Virginia, again leading the nation in energy.

Gov. Joe Manchin was elected chairman Monday of the Southern States Energy Board, a regional group that represents some of the country’s biggest oil-, gas- and coal-producing states.

On Monday, the group released a 211-page report calling for a host of tax breaks, government-insurance programs and other incentives to help coal replace foreign oil supplies.

Manchin took up the theme of “energy independence” in accepting the new position.

“Our states, our region and our country are at an energy crossroads. We must chart a new course to supply more of our own energy resources to be more energy-independent,” he said.

Monday, July 17, 2006

FREE Lemonade

If it's over 90 Degrees

Just when you thought nothing was free anymore, the City of Bluefield is giving away free lemonade. I can remember the first time I heard of this tradition. It was back in 2004 when I was serving as Executive Director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. I spoke to the Rotary Club in Bluefield and then the Mercer County CVB Director and HM Board Member Beverly Wellman gave me a tour of the city. SO folks, if you are traveling through Southern WV, not too far off Rt. 77 you can get a great tasting FREE glass of LEMONADE.

This is why West Virginia is the greatest place to live and conduct business. Low cost of living, great people, and hey, free lemonade if the temperature gets over 90 degree F.

Article Below from METRONEWS
There's nothing better than a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. And anyone who's in Bluefield Tuesday can get a taste for free.

Mayor Rev. Garry Moore says, "Whenever the thermometer reaches above 90-degrees, we serve lemonade the following day." He says the city has a reputation to uphold. "We make sure we live up to our name, the 'Air Conditioned City.'"

How did the town get that nickname? Moore says it has to do with the prevailing winds that blow through Bluefield. "It actually blows through a constant breeze through Bluefield. Very seldom do you come through Bluefield and the wind is stagnate."

Moore says with temperatures in the mid-90s predicted for the rest of the week, they'll be serving a lot of lemonade. "In fact, I'll probably be the first recipient of some."

The lemonade will be handed out downtown, at the local Wal-Mart and a couple other spots around town.

Power Baseball Park an Economic Success

Phil Kabler reports in today's Charleston Gazette that the attendance at the Power Park is consistent and higher than expected. The Power Park, geographically located near the center of Charleston, has indeed be an economic success. Thanks to all those who made this project happen and to the WV Economic Development Grant Committee.

Please read Phil's commentary below:

Finally, baseball poets often refer to ballparks as the living rooms of cities, and with three consecutive standing-room-only crowds of 6,406, 5,537 and 6,337 for a homestand earlier this month, it is evident Appalachian Power Park is fulfilling that role in Charleston.

That brings season-to-date attendance to 153,879, on pace to smash last year’s record attendance of 233,143, in spite of several rainouts and generally wet and dreary weather in April and May. (So much for the naysayers who said attendance would sag after the novelty of the new park wore off.)

Perhaps the park is truly most like the city’s living room on non-game Thursday “buck nights,” which draw a smaller, but more representative cross-section of the neighboring East End communities. It gives neighbors from north and south of Washington Street an all-too-rare opportunity to come together, to listen to local bands and enjoy movies on the park’s video board.

More and more, it appears the civic leaders who stood up to severe criticism to build the park have provided the city with an amenity that will serve it well for years to come.

To contact staff writer Phil Kabler, e-mail or call 348-1220.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Internet Creator Visits West Virginia.

O.k. Just kidding. But seriously Al Gore did visit West Virginia this week to promote his new book, "An Inconvenient Truth." Gore spoke for about 30 minutes at The Greenbrier Resort on Wednesday as part of the National Associations of State Treasurers Conference. This year marks the first year that the conference has been held in West Virginia.

Congratulations to the Greenbrier and West Virginia for hosting this important event. If you have never visited the Greenbrier, you can learn more about it here.

In a related news story, The Greenbrier will be re-opening its secret bunker for tours. A secret Eisenhower-era underground bunker, designed to house members of Congress and their staffs during [and after] nuclear attack, will soon be re-opened to tours by guests of the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. The bunker was built underneath the resort.

I have personally toured the bunker and it is something you must do while you're in West Virginia. Following repairs and renovations, the former U.S. Government Relocation Facility, commonly known as the bunker, reopens for tours on July 17 for guests of The Greenbrier. Non-registered guest tours begin August 20. Public tours will be available twice a week, Sundays and Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m., from the White Sulphur Springs Civic Center.

For information or reservations, call 304-536-7810 or email Greenbrier reservations (

Other things to do in West Virginia? WV Tourism. Our state is a wonderful tourist destination. Find out about Charleston Tourism Here!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

West Virginia = Low Crime and Good Samaritans
Looking for a place with the finest people in the world? It's great here in West Virginia. Check out this feel-good story, the type that those who have been here can tell you "happens all the time."

Man finds $1,000 bank deposit,
returns money to owner

Ann Ali
Daily Mail Staff

Wednesday July 12, 2006
It's understandable to see a penny and pick it up -- but to see $1,000, pick it up and then return it takes a truly Good Samaritan.

Greg Falbo, 41, was on his way home one day last month after working from 8 to 9 p.m. as a personal trainer at the Charleston YMCA and also as a maintenance worker for a local property owner.

He saw an envelope on the ground and bent down to throw it away but noticed it marked "BB&T," so he opened it.

"I thought it may be important, so I went ahead and opened it up," Falbo said.

Turns out the envelope belonged to Michael Mounts, who owns United States Investigative and Protection Agency, a private investigating firm that recently relocated to Virginia Street East.

Mounts had just left his office that Thursday evening.

He placed garbage in the nearby dumpster on Brooks Street then drove to BB&T to make a bank deposit totaling nearly $1,000, but arrived and realized he did not have the envelope he needed.

"I was carrying several things out, and it must've fallen from my hands," Mounts said. "It was a couple of checks and a money order made out to PMS, Property Management Service."

Mounts said he figured he had left the envelope on his desk, so he went home for the evening. But he soon received a call from Falbo.

Falbo told Mounts he had found the money Mounts hadn't even realized he had lost.

"It's very easy to get checks cashed in the Kanawha Valley," Mounts said. "Those could have easily been altered."

Melissa Miller knows both men. She is an intern with Mounts' company and also works at the YMCA with Falbo.

She said she wouldn't expect anything less from Falbo.

"I just wouldn't expect him to be anything other than nice," she said.

Falbo said his act of honesty was no big deal and he thought anyone would have done the same thing.

On the other hand, he's been the victim of theft before. None of his personal property was recovered after a break-in a few years ago.

"I'm sure it just ended up in a dumpster somewhere," he said. "It really would have been nice to have some of my personal items back."

So, understanding how it feels to lose important things, he went about the painless task of simply looking up Mounts' name in a phone book to say he had his check.

"It took a half hour of my time, and that's really not a lot to do for someone," he said.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Charleston WV featured in US Airways Magazine

Charleston WV featured in US Airways Magazine:
July publication includes Profile: Charleston

After months of planning and anticipation, Profile Charleston has made its way into the July issue of US Airways Magazine. Representatives from the Charleston Area Alliance, Mayor’s Office, Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Yeager Airport, Department of Commerce, WV Division of Tourism and the WV Development Office contributed their time, knowledge and vision on this project.

The 24-page section of Profile Charleston is devoted entirely to displaying Charleston as one of the nation’s foremost places to live, work and visit. It is a comprehensive look at the economic successes and opportunities, the sites and sounds of tourism, and the historic nature that shape the lifestyles and business landscape of West Virginia’s Capital City.

Highlights include Mountain Stage, Vandalia Lounge, Capitol Market, Downtown Charleston, Brass Pineapple, and Blossom Deli, just to mention a few. Local writers JoAnn Elmer Adkins, Jack Bailey and Jake Stump contributed their keen writing talents and skills to this special publication.

“Profile Charleston has identified and highlighted our capital city as a progressive community with many great attractions. It has been an exciting experience for the individuals and businesses involved and we are eager to share with the world the attributes that make Charleston so enticing,” said Jama Burton, committee member and Communications Manager for the Charleston Area Alliance.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Local Company Working on Vehicle to detect IED's.


Media Contact: Barbara Cavender
Web Site:

Terramite Corporation Robotic Vehicle Tested at Fort Leonard Wood, MO

Charleston, WV---June 28, 2006 ---Terramite announced today that it has completed the assessment testing of an unmanned route clearance and interrogation system based on its awarded subcontract from the National Center for Defense Robotics (NCDR), an initiative of the Technology Collaborative, a Pittsburgh based non-profit economic development organization. This assessment testing supports the NCDR’s prime contract with Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, in Crane, Indiana. The system is developed for use in potentially hazardous areas to clear explosives, rubble and debris. Terramite provided two units with multi-functional manual and robotic modes to the US Army Maneuver Support Center located at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Robert Cunningham, President, says, “The unmanned remote controlled machines are designed and produced around our time tested commercial backhoe/loaders. The systems performed exceptionally well, and met or exceeded all Key Point Parameters. We feel it is an excellent tool for IED detection and deletion that will help save the lives of our Military Personnel in Iraq and future conflicts”.

about Terramite…
Terramite Corporation is the leading manufacturer of compact construction equipment. In business since 1965, Terramite is the pioneer of the compact tractor loader backhoe. The company has won numerous awards and has been recognized in the market for the innovative design of their construction equipment.

about NCDR….
The National Center for Defense Robotics, an initiative of The Technology Collaborative, pursues Department of Defense and other federal appropriations to fund and manage projects that accelerate the development and transition of robotics technologies to meet the requirements of defense-related unmanned systems, vehicles, and other applications. The NCDR is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Charleston’s Young Professionals Organize

The Charleston Area Alliance Board of Directors want these headlines to appear in local newspapers in 2010: “College graduates flock to Charleston region” and “Average age in West Virginia reaches 36.”

The Alliance, a local economic and community development group, charged the group’s Business Development Committee at its 2006 strategic planning retreat to find ways to attract and keep young professionals in the region.

Jack Rossi, Chairman of the Alliance Board said, “We must keep and support our young professionals who build our intellectual capital, a critical piece of a healthy economy.”

The Alliance has formed a young professionals team to develop strategies and the first topic targeted was affordable downtown housing. A forum was organized with the West Virginia Housing Development Fund who were so impressed with the ideas suggested that they asked Alliance Executive Vice President Matt Ballard to appoint a liaison to the Fund’s housing committee. Charles Roskovensky, an attorney with the West Virginia Legislature, recently assumed that role.

Roskovensky says, “Young professionals are looking for affordable housing opportunities downtown – revitalized warehouses remodeled into flats, renovated homes on the East End, and locations in and nearby the city that allow them to take advantage of evening and weekend activities.”

“The recent announcement of a housing project on Charleston’s East End planned for CAMC residents and medical students is an exciting beginning,” said Sally Smith, an attorney with Bowles Rice who chairs the Business Development Committee for the Alliance.

Housing is not the only issue on the minds of Charleston’s young professionals. Erin Molchany, Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s Urban Magnet Project (PUMP), joined the Charleston group during FestivALL to share other ideas at an Alliance meeting on June 23. The event was catered by Meticulous, owned by Charleston young professionals Ehren and Wendy Johnson. “Charleston is a great city and FestivALL is exactly the kind of activity that generates interest in this age group,” Molchany noted. “Reducing the brain drain of under-40 professionals is a critical goal for economic development in cities like Charleston and Pittsburgh.”

Jessica Faulkenberry, Vice President at BB&T, is coordinating projects with Huntington’s young professionals group to ensure a regional effort.

Other young professionals interested in participating can contact Charleston Area Alliance Vice President Matt Ballard at 340-4253 or on the Alliance blog at

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

West Virginia a Big “Deal” in Economic Development

According to the spring edition of Southern Business and Development Magazine, West Virginia is succeeding in its economic development efforts. West Virginia placed second in the magazine’s ranking system of states that garnered major economic development deals over the past year. On a per capita basis, only Alabama ranked higher than West Virginia in the ratings. Mike Randle, editor of Southern Business and Development Magazine says, “Compared to last year's totals, ten Southern states turned more deals that feature 200 jobs and/or $30 million in investment and seven states lost ground from last year. The biggest gains were earned by Florida (+23 deals) and North Carolina (+21 deals).”

The spring magazine included economic development projects in West Virginia such as International Coal Group’s headquarters, Coldwater Creek’s expansion, AEP’s transmission line investment, and Toyota’s expansion. In a separate article, the magazine featured two Kanawha County projects – the expansion of CDI’s help desk operations creating 50 new jobs and the New Finishing Line project creating 40 new jobs. “With West Virginia being a small state, it can be challenging to get attention in the national and international markets. It is very refreshing to see West Virginia recognized for these substantial corporate investments. Businesses believe in West Virginia, and the word is spreading,” said Bill Goode, President of the Charleston Area Alliance.

The ranking proves West Virginia can deliver on economic development projects, regardless of size. Matthew Ballard, Executive Vice President of the Charleston Area Alliance believes West Virginia provides a competitive advantage for businesses. “No matter the size of the project, West Virginia’s small size as a state allows us to mobilize key stakeholders to work with all companies considering our area. Finalizing the deal through hard work and personalized attention creates win-win projects – an efficient place to do business for the company and good jobs with benefits for our citizens.”

Southern Business & Development Magazine focuses on economic development efforts in the "world's third-largest economy” – the Southern States of the U.S. More information about Southern Business and Development Magazine can be found at and about the Charleston Area Alliance at

Young Professionals Crying Out for Their Type of Housing Everywhere.

Coming of age now includes real estate
People 25 and younger bought 501,000 homes nationally last year.
By Nicole Tsong
Saturday, July 01, 2006

Besides college graduation, their first "real" job and their first new car, young single adults are adding another common milestone to their list: buying a home.

More adults under 30 are entering the real estate market, and many are doing it at ages uncommon a decade ago. And buyers are getting still younger.

In 1995, people 25 and younger bought 172,000 homes nationally, said Walter Molony, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. In 2005, that number jumped to 501,000.

"The children of the baby boom generation — approximately 75 million (nationally) born between 1982 and 1995 — that generation is just entering the years in which people buy a first home," Molony said.

"That's a strong fundamental factor for the next decade."

Though sales prices for Central Texas real estate are heading up — the median price for condominiums was $145,500 in May, up 2 percent from last year — it's also more attractive than ever for young singles to buy, with cheaper conversions of apartments to condos, creative financing options and slick marketing campaigns aimed at them.

At the Pedernales Lofts in East Austin, prices range from $174,000 to $249,900, said Gregg Bell, a financial analyst with Pauly Presley Realty. In South Austin, units in the second phase of the Bel Air lofts on South Congress Avenue are going for $193,000 to $337,000, said Monica Stone, director of marketing for Interurban Development LLC.

Yet both developments are attracting young buyers, who are a big factor in driving up demand for the units.

There also is fear among young adults — and their parents — that they won't be able to afford real estate in the future.

"There seems to be a lot more peer pressure, more parental pressure to buy at a younger age," said Warren Ballard, vice president of Williams Marketing in Seattle, which sells new condos and conversions. "The attitude really has changed."

But just because more young adults are buying doesn't mean the purchase is easy.

Young buyers are making major compromises and using creative financing to buy their first homes — including recruiting roommates or siblings, borrowing from parents, sacrificing space and living in less desirable neighborhoods.

Dawn Wiggin, 27, decided she was ready to buy a home only weeks before she signed the paperwork for a condo in NoMa Ballard in Seattle.

When she signed the final papers, she was so happy she cried.

But the 475-square-foot condo, priced in the low $200s, will be tough financially. The mortgage is $700 more per month than the one-bedroom apartment she's renting until her condo is finished this fall.

"It's going to be a challenge," Wiggin, a program manager, acknowledged. "I'll be paying a lot more, but it'll be fine. It'll be a great investment."

Matt Parker, 27, and his 24-year-old brother, Sean, decided to combine resources and buy a 900-square-foot home together. That way they could invest in a nicer house and still live with a roommate they trusted.

Matt Parker, a real estate agent, can reel off several reasons to buy young — among them: When you rent, "you're just making rich people richer."

Taylor Halverson, 26, bought at a time when many young adults don't even know which career they're headed for.

He bought his 580-square-foot loft two years ago with money he had saved. With a steady job, he saw the purchase as an investment.

"You're not paying money for nothing, i.e. rent," Halverson said. "At the same time, you're investing in something that gives you a reasonable return."

His mortgage (about $200,000) has forced him to cut back on little expenses, such as picking up breakfast on the way to work and buying lunch. Those costs add up, he said.

Though Halverson was among the first of his friends to buy a place, he said he didn't feel any pressure.

Still, when asked what prompted him to buy at such a young age, he responded:

"Is 25 young?"

Want to buy a home?

Here are some Web sites to help you decide whether you can afford to buy:

•HUD Home buying site:

•Bankrate mortgage information and calculators:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Robert Byrd's 4th of July Comments in Charleston West Virginia

The city if Charleston welcomed the state's senior Senator for a 4th of July celebration that is always very well attended. This year Senator Byrd gave a great speech on our democracy.

July 04, 2006
Robert C. Byrd

The Greatest Country on Earth: Constitution the framework for America’s success

Here are Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s remarks from Monday’s Independence Day celebration in Charleston:

We gather together to commemorate a defining historical moment. For it was on July 4, 230 years ago, that members of the Second Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, and the world’s greatest experiment in government began.

In 1787, after a half dozen years of laboring under our country’s first Constitution, the flawed Articles of Confederation, a new Constitution, one that would stand as a beacon to man’s best hopes across the ages, was born.

It is that same Constitution that governs our great country today, and the first words of its Preamble are, “We the people....”

Three simple words, “We the people,” set forth the bedrock principle for the most radical and revolutionary form of government ever to illuminate the human mind. Under our system, the people are sovereign. In the United States of America the people are King. The government serves at the people’s pleasure.

Think of it — citizens as sovereigns. What an earth-shaking approach to managing the earthly affairs of men!

Its underpinnings, of course, are the experience of history, and the novel conviction that a government ought to reflect the values and common beliefs of those who give their consent to be governed.

Ours is a representative democracy, mind you. We the people choose our fellow citizens to go to Congress, go to the White House or the Statehouse, and speak and act for us. But, should they fail our trust, we can replace them through peaceful and open elections.

It is because this country, these United States of America, has so closely reflected the values and morals of its people that we have become the Greatest Country on Earth.

That’s right. We are great, not because of our military might, although that might is the envy of the planet. We are great, not because of our popular culture — our means of dress, our movies, our music — although that culture has certainly invaded the world marketplace. No.

We are a great country because we are an idealistic country — a nation of dreamers and dreams that has put those dreams down on parchment, and enacted them into laws. We the people are America.

We the people of America believe in freedom to pray, speak, and work. We the people believe in due process, the right to a fair trial, protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and unreasonable searches and seizures of property.

We the people believe in fairness, honesty, kindness to one’s neighbor, whether that neighbor be down the street or across the Atlantic. We the people know children are our hope for the future and the family is the crucible of an orderly, just, and caring society. We believe in openness and accountability, and we know that too many secrets breed abuse of our laws and of our freedoms. We all know the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. And, while the story may be a myth it highlights the universal American admiration for truth, and for those who endeavor to always tell it.

Here in this beautiful city among the hills of this beautiful state, all those values are vibrantly lived and cherished each and every day. America’s heritage, the soul of her greatness lies with each and every one of you here tonight, and millions of other Americans like you who quietly live their lives with decency, respect and reverence, far, far removed from the arrogance, corruption, and rudeness that sometimes dominates our political discourse and occasionally seeps into our national policies.

In truth you are America, for you are the people — the last best hope of the Framers as they put their dreams on parchment in the form of a Constitution for the ages — the framework for a country that has inspired the world. America, like the fireworks we will soon watch illuminate this night sky, has illuminated the darkness for millions of people around the globe with her bright promise of dignity for all.

I love the people of this state, and I love the people of this country. I have watched America change and grow to become the giant that it is. There have been disturbing days and periods of deep despair in our history. But whenever we have been blown off track by the tempestuous winds of events, our ship of state has corrected course because the Constitution lives, and the people reign. We the people must pass on with careful hands what a great and good Creator gave to our forefathers over two centuries ago. We are the living stewards of that declaration of July 4, 1776, and the guardians of precious centuries of lives both lived and lost for freedom. We are the people. May we ever reign!

Byrd is West Virginia’s senior senator.

Diamond Electric to celebrate 10 years

Parts for millions

By Jennifer Ginsberg
Staff writer

ELEANOR — Workers at a Putnam County auto parts maker are preparing to celebrate its 10th anniversary in West Virginia later this month.

The nearly 200 workers at Diamond Electric make ignition coils used in Toyota, Chrysler and Ford engines.

Company CEO Shigeji Ikenaga decided to build his second U.S. factory in the Eleanor Industrial Park in 1996. The facility has expanded three times since it opened in 1997.

The initial five workers began making ignition coils for Chrysler in a 30,000-square-foot facility. The facility’s first expansion added a product line for Toyota in 2002, when plant workers began making coils for the automaker’s Georgetown, Ky., assembly plant.

The plant expanded again in 2003 to make room for new Toyota, Chrysler and Ford product lines. The most recent project involved expanding the warehouse, which brought the building up to 112,000 square feet.

The warehouse’s exterior was finished two months ago and the storage racks went up a few weeks ago. Politicians, company executives and workers will celebrate these expansions and the plant’s 10th anniversary during an event on July 31.

Assembly machine operator Connie Lovejoy has been impressed by all the changes during her eight years at the plant.

“[It’s] kind of like job security,” she said. “Everybody’s got to drive.”

Lovejoy has lived in Eleanor for about 40 years — all her life — and said Diamond’s presence has been good for the community. Fellow assembly operator Bonnie Smith agrees.

Smith was a convenience store cashier before coming to the plant on Nov. 10, 1997, and likes the plant’s people, money and work.

The majority of the company’s workers live in Putnam or Mason counties, said Human Resources Manager Cathy Davis. All the employees work full time and earn an average of $11 an hour.

Putnam County’s economic indicators have continued to improve since 1995. In a decade, the number of companies in the county has increased by 288 and the number of employed workers has gone up by 3,588, according to data from the West Virginia Bureau of Employment Programs.

The average weekly wage has increased almost $100 after inflation in the past 10 years.

Director of Community Relations David Bagnall said Diamond likes to locate in smaller communities such as Eleanor where it can make an impact. The company has donated dictionaries for every third-grader in Putnam County and will announce some significant community support projects at its July 31 celebration, he said.

“Absolutely the best move and best decision our company has made is to locate in West Virginia,” Bagnall said. “Our work force is excellent and we’ve had a really low turnover rate, which is so important in manufacturing.”

Five out of the first eight or nine people hired at the plant still work there, and the turnover rate is less than 6 percent, he said.

The Eleanor facility is the larger of Diamond’s two U.S. facilities and is becoming the global company’s biggest corporate plant, edging out facilities in Hungary, Japan and China.

West Virginia workers made a couple of hundred thousand coils in 1997 and are on track to make 10 million this year and 14 million in a few years. This year’s West Virginia sales should equal $58 million.

While the company doesn’t have any plans for other additions, it will continue to grow and mature in its new space, Bagnall said.

“I think it’s kind of like a child growing up,” he said. “We are making more higher-quality products than when we first started.”

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

Monday, July 03, 2006

Manchin pays homage to small businesses

From the Charleston Daily Mail

Gov. Joe Manchin was scheduled to issue a proclamation today designating July 1-7 "Independent Small Business Week" in West Virginia.

"Small, independently operated West Virginia businesses are the lifeblood of this great state," Manchin said in prepared remarks. "They provide jobs, make our communities unique, keep entrepreneurism alive and give back to the local area in time, talent, goods and services.

"I ask all West Virginians to take time out during the July 4th holiday week to consider the positive impact locally owned businesses have on our daily lives, and to support them to the best of our abilities."

Members of the West Virginia Oil Marketers & Grocers Association were scheduled to join Manchin at the proclamation announcement. The association represents independently owned grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations.