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, August 30, 2006

Charleston Area Alliance, Lower Kanawha Valley Mayors Association Strengthen Relationship for Future Growth

Press Release

August 29, 2006
Contact Information:
Jama L. Burton-Jarrett

Charleston Area Alliance, Lower Kanawha Valley Mayors Association Strengthen Relationship for Future Growth

Charleston, WV- The Charleston Area Alliance and the Lower Kanawha Valley Mayors Association are strengthening their relationship to form a more productive and formal partnership. The Charleston Area Alliance Board of Directors voted on Monday to add an ex-offico board seat to be filled by a representative from the Lower Kanawha Valley Mayors Association.

Commissioner Dave Hardy, representing the Kanawha County commissioners on the Alliance board, believes the partnership is an important step. "The Alliance has already been working in the lower Kanawha Valley, but this will formalize that working relationship between the Alliance and the municipalities.” The county commission has designated another ex-offico director representing the Upper Kanawha Valley.

The Lower Kanawha Valley Mayors Association is comprised of the Dunbar Mayor Roger Wolfe, Mayor Richie Robb of South Charleston, Mayor Rusty Casto of Nitro, St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway and the unincorporated area of Cross Lanes. "The mayors of the lower Kanawha Valley have shown true leadership. They have quality ideas for economic development not just for their individual municipalities, but also for the entire valley. We welcome their participation,” said Jack Rossi, Charleston Area Alliance, Board Chairman.

Representatives from the Lower Kanawha Valley Mayors Association and the Alliance have already met to discuss future plans. The Charleston Area Alliance is a private, non-profit economic and community development organization serving Kanawha County.

Post office to hire more than 100 in Charleston

The Charleston Area Alliance and the West Virginia Development Office has been working with the postal service R.E.C. facility for two months now anticipating this great news. That's right folks, they're hiring!

As other facilities are closing, the nation is looking toward West Virginia to lead in quality mail services.

August 30, 2006
Post office to hire more than 100 in city

Encoding center to expand; N. Carolina facility to close

By Eric Eyre
Staff writer

A Charleston postal facility plans to hire more than 100 workers during the next six months, the U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday.

The Charleston Remote Encoding Center, which now employs 350 data conversion workers at the main post office in downtown Charleston, is expanding following the planned closing of a similar facility in Fayetteville, N.C.

At the Charleston postal center, workers manually read addresses that automated machines can’t decipher. The Charleston facility now handles mail images from Washington, Baltimore and Richmond, Va. It also will process mail from North Carolina and South Carolina once the Fayetteville plant closes.

The new jobs will pay $12.63 an hour, and people already have started to apply, said Michael Thompson, who manages the Charleston facility.

“It’s going to be a significant number of people, and it’s going to have a significant impact on our area,” Thompson said. “It’s good news.”

The Fayetteville postal center employed nearly 190 people.

The Postal Service selected the Charleston site for expansion because it’s one of the top-performing remote encoding centers in the United States, according to a news release. The Charleston facility, which opened in 1994, also keeps costs down and has low staff turnover.

“This was an internal postal decision,” Thompson said. “We’re one of the better performing centers. We have a lot of hard-working, dedicated employees.”

Since 1999, the Postal Service has closed 43 of its 55 remote encoding centers. In addition to the Fayetteville facility, a Tampa, Fla., postal center also will close in March, leaving the Postal Service with just 10 remote encoding centers nationwide.

New technology has created mail-sorting machines that can read most addresses, eliminating the need for workers at the remote centers. More than 90 percent of mail is read by automated equipment.

The data-entry workers handle the remainder of mail that the computerized equipment can’t read. The addresses are scanned and sent to employees at the decoding centers where workers read them and attach a code to the letter that ensures it’s delivered to the correct location.

The work requires sitting at a workstation and typing for extended periods of time. The encoding center is housed inside the downtown Charleston post office.

“Before Christmas, we’ll have some of these people hired,” Thompson said. “And we’ll certainly have them all on board when the Fayetteville facility closes in March.”

Paula Barker-Harless, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 133 in Charleston, said the expansion ensures that the remote encoding center will stay open.

“Twelve or thirteen dollars an hour is good money for Charleston,” Barker-Harless said. “I’m glad to see that money coming here. Now the process of getting the people hired and trained and on board begins.”

New data conversion operators must complete two exams and an extensive computer-based training program.

To apply for the written exam — the first step in the hiring process — applicants may call 1 (866) 999-877 and refer to announcement 164130. They also may apply at and refer to announcement 164130.

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

Monday, August 21, 2006

Charleston Entertainment

While the Charleston Area Alliance blog serves many purposes for our organization, one reason we began this blog was to begin using Web 2.0 tools to engage the community. The blog has certainly done that so far and its usage continues to increase each week.

Don’t forget, anyone can leave comments under posts to begin a dialog on a certain topic.

One big reason we started the blog was to keep our young professionals committee engaged. If you read down through the archives you can get an update on their past and planned activities.

As we continue to attract new young professionals to Charleston and to strive to keep those we have, one asset which seems to continue to grow in Charleston are elements of the creative class. Be it the Clay Center, Ecodwell Project (has a great interactive education element to it), boutique shops on Capitol Street or South Hills, or what I’m focusing on now, entertainment in general.

This past weekend, I went to Vandalia with a couple of friends, Charlie Roskovensky and Megan Freeland, to see Natalie Wells play. I heard first heard Natalie play when she played at a friend’s house for a private party. This time Natalie was showing off her guitar riffs atVandalia Lounge. She is an amazing guitar player. In fact, the first time saw her play, she cranked out a version of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Jimmy Hendrix that was amazing.

Friday night at the Vandalia her great music brought together a diverse, eclectic group of listeners. There were patrons from 21-71 listening to Natalie and people began to even dance! People dancing = ultimate compliment to your abilities.

Now over the next two weekends we see Charleston featuring more entertainment. First this coming weekend’s Taste of Charleston. The following weekend will be the Charleston Regatta. Personally, I’ll be at Taste of Charleston on Saturday of this coming weekend. Next weekend, Friday I’ll be at the Italian Festival in Clarksburg, whereas Saturday, I’m headed back to Charleston for the WVU Vs. Marshall Game then to Regatta.

Enjoy the pleasures of our great city as Fall is upon us!

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Taste of Charleston.

Please find the details of Taste of Charleston which I have cut and pasted from the WSAZ web site. This sounds like it is going to be a fun event.

Welcome to the 2006 WSAZ TASTE of Charleston, the Gourmet Event of the Sternwheel Regatta Festival.

2006 is our 26th year and it has been very well received by the Charleston area community, drawing an average of 20,000 attendees over the two days of the event.
This year we have MOVED THE TASTE to the weekend prior to Labor Day, August 26th and 27th, in the Charleston Civic Center (noon to 6:00PM each day) to avoid conflict with the Marshall-WVU football game being played in Morgantown , Saturday September 2nd. The weekend prior to Labor Day has been our primary weekend for the event for most of our 26 years so we don't envision anything but a positive impact on attendance so “Save that Date!”

If you are a restaurant and you would like more information on how you can participate, click on this Restaurant Sign-up link.

For you “gourmets” out there, click on this Example Menu link for a sample of last year’s “tastes.” And everyone can enjoy a photo gallery of WSAZ Taste of Charleston Scenes by clicking on this 2005 Photos link, and the winners of our “Taste Awards by clicking on this 2005 Winners link.

You and your whole family are invited to join us for this fun, traditional event. Save that date, Saturday and Sunday August 26th and 27th, noon until 6:00PM each day in the Charleston Civic Center .

Remember, your unused food tickets can be placed in donation boxes around the Civic Center dining area. The value of these tickets benefits the WSAZ Children’s Charities. COME HUNGRY!

Don Ray
General Manager, WSAZ NewsChannel 3

J. Craig Casto
WSAZ TASTE of Charleston
747-7019 (w)
746-5561 (h)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Diamond Electric plant
a success story

Picture: Gov. Joe Manchin and first lady Gayle Manchin renewed acquaintances with Diamond Electric Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Shigeji Ikenaga and his family during the company’s celebration Monday at Eleanor. From left are Kento Ikenaga, the middle son of Tatsu Ikenaga; Tatsu, who is president of Diamond Electric in the United States; Gayle and Joe Manchin; Takuya Ikenaga, Tatsu’s youngest son; Hiromi Ikenaga, Tatsu’s wife; and Shigeji Ikenaga, the family patriarch.

The below article by George Hohmann of the Charleston Daily Mail highlights the success of Diamond Electric and their West Virginia automotive coil production facility. It also demonstrates the success auto parts manufacturers can have in West Virginia. With companies like Diamond Electric, and Toyota's Transmission Manufacturing Facility in Buffalo, WV, finding high success levels in West Virginia our economy is ripe for additional auto parts manufacturing facilities. What better place to be located? Charleston logistically, provides a capital city, with three major US Interstates intersecting at its center. Charleston provides part suppliers with a logistics center to serve the automotive industry in Michigan, the mid-west, and the growing assembly plants in the South.

George Hohmann
Daily Mail business editor

Tuesday August 01, 2006
ELEANOR -- Diamond Electric Manufacturing Corp.'s plant here is a success story, having grown in 10 years from 8 employees to nearly 200 and expanding three times, from 30,000 square feet to 112,000 square feet, said Tatsu Ikenaga, president of Diamond Electric in the United States.

The plant has had many accomplishments in the past decade, including quality awards, International Standards Organization certifications and increased sales and new business, Ikenaga said.

Several hundred state and local leaders and Eleanor residents gathered at the company's plant in the Eleanor Industrial Park Monday to celebrate the plant's 10th anniversary in West Virginia and its third expansion.

The Eleanor plant has become the larger of Diamond Electric's two United States plants. It now has the capacity to produce 13 million ignition coils a year. When the plant reaches that production level it will have about 20 percent of the entire North American automotive coil production business, Ikenaga said.

The plant began making ignition coils for Chrysler and Toyota in 1997 and for Ford in 2005, Ikenaga said. Diamond Electric hopes to make some parts for General Motors' 2008 models, he said.

Ikenaga said Diamond Electric faces many challenges, including complying with environmental rules, striving to constantly improve quality and responding to pressure from customers to reduce costs.

Ikenaga's father, Shigeji Ikenaga, is the company's chairman and chief executive officer. Eleanor Mayor Fred Halstead presented Shigeji with the key to the town and a proclamation declaring Monday "Shigeji Ikenaga Day" in Eleanor.

Many businesses and organizations throughout the community, from the Dairy Queen to the Foodland to the First Baptist Church, displayed signs on Monday honoring the elder Ikenaga.

In his speech, Shigeji Ikenaga said, "I am delighted to have such good managers and team members." He said that when he told his wife he was being honored, "My wife said, ‘You didn't contribute anything to West Virginia. It was your sons!'

"My wife is a very outspoken woman," he said. "But it is true!"

Halstead and others disagreed. They said Shigeji Ikenaga was the driving force behind Diamond Electric's decision to locate in Eleanor.

David Bagnall, Diamond Electric's director of community affairs, said the company decided to build a plant at Eleanor even before Toyota announced it would build an engine plant 6 miles down the road at Buffalo.

Many top executives from Diamond Electric's operations around the world were at the ceremony, including Shigeji Ikenaga's eldest son, Shigehiko Ikenaga, who was president of Diamond Electric in the United States when the Eleanor plant was built.

In his remarks, Gov. Joe Manchin recalled the West Virginia trade mission to Japan last summer. In Osaka, where Diamond Electric is headquartered, the company hosted a dinner on an upper floor of a hotel with a spectacular view of the Osaka Castle, first built in 1583. During the toasts, Shigeji Ikenaga sang a few lines of "Country Roads" -- in English.

Diamond Electric is active in community affairs and a supporter of education. The company distributes dictionaries to all third graders in Putnam County each year.

The company continued its support of education on Monday by presenting a $10,000 check to kick off a building fund for a new Eleanor library and presenting a $10,000 check to help the George Washington Middle School re-stock its library. The school was destroyed by fire six years ago but has been rebuilt.

Bagnall said the company now has plants in Japan, the United States, Hungary and China. "India will probably be our next location," he said.

Contact writer George Hohmann at 348-4836.

Technology company
opens Hurricane office

The below article from the Charleston Daily Mail highlights the opening of Global Science and Technology's expansion in the Kanawha Valley.

Tuesday August 08, 2006
Global Science & Technology announced it has hired three additional employees and opened an office in Hurricane to serve the Kanawha Valley.

"We're building a team committed to delivering leading edge information-technology solutions to the Kanawha Valley that our customers throughout the country have grown to expect," Cannon Wadsworth, Global Science & Technology's director of state and commercial projects, said in a prepared statement.

The company's new office is at 3751 Teays Valley Road. The additional employees are:

Daniel Carter, a 12-year technology veteran who helps Global Science & Technology support a variety of projects for state agencies, joined the company last year. He previously worked for Ablesoft in Charleston.
Marc Beacom, who has worked as a consultant and information technology sales professional in state government and commercial markets for 20 years. He currently is an account manager and recruiter. He has expertise in document imaging and data management solutions; outsourced application development projects; and recruiting and staffing. He joined the company in May. He previously worked for CDI Information Technology Services in Charleston.
Jeff Sines, a Gulf War veteran. His background includes computer and document-imaging systems. He joined the company in July. He previously worked for EMC Corp. in Charleston.
Wadsworth said Global Science & Technology sees a lot of potential in the Kanawha Valley market and plans to hire more people in the near future.

"GST already has a strong track record of providing cost-effective and efficient technology solutions to the state and we believe our new office and capable staff will be keys to expanding our success story," he said.

Global Science & Technology was established in 1991. The company is headquartered in Greenbelt, Md. The company bought TMC Technologies Inc. of Fairmont in March 2005.

In addition to the three employees at its office in Hurricane, the company currently has 76 employees in Fairmont; 2 in Morgantown; 169 in the Washington, D.C., metro area; 2 in Colorado, and 9 in North Carolina.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Belgian consulting company chooses W.Va. for U.S. base

A new Belgium-based company has selected Charleston for its first United States operations, Gov. Joe Manchin announced Wednesday.

Industrial Projects Services USA Corp., which operates offices throughout Europe, provides assessment, strategies consultation and project management services to the steel, aluminum, chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, automotive, energy and paper industries. The company, which has offices throughout Europe, will be housed at the Charleston Area Alliance in downtown Charleston until a permanent site is selected next year.

“IPS USA Corp.’s engineering, planning and project management services will be a valuable asset in helping our state’s industries grow,” Manchin said in a press release. “We’re making significant progress in our efforts in Europe. We thank Industrial Projects Services for its investment and welcome the company to our community.”

The company will employ 10 engineers and architects and invest $3 million within three years by building its own competence center, which will provide space for training employees and other industry professionals and conference space for industry events.

IPS USA Corp.’s parent company, Group-IPS S.A., was founded in 1992 and has managed projects for Arcelor, Corus Aluminum, Coil, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen and others.

After initially being contacted by the West Virginia European Trade Office, Luc Tasiaux, company founder and operational manger, visited West Virginia in early April. While visiting, Tasiaux met with the West Virginia Development Office and West Virginia University about the possibility of educational collaborations for the competence center. Later in April, Manchin met with Tasiaux during his Europe marketing trip.

“Group-IPS S.A. first chose West Virginia because of its strategic location amidst the industry of the state itself and that of surrounding states,” said Wouter Zwart, junior project engineer for Group-IPS. “Furthermore, the proximity of West Virginia University implies a large pool of engineers to sustain growth of our company. We are confident that the unique character of one of America’s smaller states is its strength and we’re looking forward to doing business in West Virginia. “

Eco-friendly house going up

August 10, 2006

Eco-friendly house going up
‘We’re building a big cooler’
By Eric EyreStaff writer

This is no ordinary house. Robert Dorsey is building the home of the future.
Dorsey and his crew were putting up 6-inch-thick walls Wednesday afternoon. The walls were something called SIPs, or structured insulated panels, pieces of Styrofoam sandwiched between two boards of plywood.
Such walls are exceptionally strong and energy-efficient. The house’s 8-inch-thick ceiling also will be made of the stuff.
“We like to say we’re building a big Styrofoam cooler and putting a heck of a thick lid on top,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey is building The EcoDwell Project, a three-bedroom, two-bath home at 1547 Jackson St. on Charleston’s East End.

It’s a “green” house — eco-friendly and energy-efficient — that someday will be owned by a low-income family. The Charleston Area Alliance and Religious Coalition for Community Renewal are sponsoring the $200,000 project.
“You want to try to use as many materials as you can that are recycled or those that can be recycled when they go out, and preferably both,” said Dorsey, 53, who usually does home remodeling.

When Dorsey and his crew needed to fill a space under the house’s concrete porch, they used crushed glass from the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority’s recycling center on Slack Street — instead of sand and gravel. The authority donated the ground-up mix of old bottles and jars.
The crawl space under the 1,300-square-foot house is enclosed, which will keep the foundation and first floor at the same temperature. The siding will be made of cement board instead of vinyl or metal. The roof will be aluminum.
Inside, hardwood floors will be “sustainable forest certified,” meaning “for every tree you take, you plant one,” Dorsey said.
A high-efficiency gas furnace will heat the house while a heat pump will provide air conditioning.

“You will heat and cool this for half the cost of the house next door,” Dorsey said. “Green is all about conserving natural resources.”
The EcoDwell Project also will serve as a learning laboratory.
Starting at 3 p.m. today, local builders, architects and building inspectors are invited to the site for a series of classes about building energy-saving and environmentally friendly homes. Dorsey and other experts will talk about the crawl space and Styrofoam-plywood walls this afternoon.
Future topics include landscaping, roofing, siding, windows and doors. There will be eight training sessions that will run through November, when Dorsey hopes to finish the house.

The home will be open for tours for a month or two, and a family is expected to move in sometime early next year. The house’s sale price is expected to be far less than the cost to build it.
“This family is going to get a top quality house,” said Susie Salisbury, senior vice president of community development at the Charleston Area Alliance. “It’s an awesome house.”
A Web site — — includes floor plans, construction videos and a schedule of classes.

The project, which received local, state and federal grants, was started by the former Charleston Renaissance Corp. WVU Tech students assisted with the house design.
The project’s sponsors hope the Jackson Street house will serve as a springboard for more eco-friendly building in West Virginia.

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

Crushed glass from the Charleston recycling center was used to fill in a space under the front porch.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

University of Charleston Pharmacy School - Open for Business!

From the Charleston Daily Mail

UC pharmacy school opens
Ann Ali Daily Mail Staff

Tuesday August 08, 2006

It may seem a little early to head back to school, but the future pharmacists at the University of Charleston have already started learning, two weeks before classes start.

Eighty students walked under the yellow banner proclaiming "Welcome, future pharmacists," and began looking around their new educational home, carefully avoiding wet paint still on some doors.

They gathered at the new pharmacy school on Monday for orientation.
Jennifer Wang, 26, who chose UC from her Los Angeles-area home after talking with friends and searching the Internet, said she was very satisfied with the brand new setup at the school.
Wang was impressed with the new building that will be the home of the pharmacy school, especially all the technology -- wireless Internet throughout the building, outlets for laptops in every room and computerized mannequins that will show physical reactions to medicines the students administer.

The 80 students were split into 16 groups of five to begin their School of Pharmacy experiences, and the orientation was more than just tours and pictures for IDs.
The students are required to attend and will receive one class credit.
"They began course work already," said School of Pharmacy Dean Richard Stull, Ph.D. "CPR, privacy, biohazards, handling infectious diseases and communicating with patients."

The first professional school at UC expects a lot from its students but has provided most of the tools in the new building.

The three-story building on a former dormitory lot has conference rooms, computer classrooms, two lecture halls that can accommodate the entire class of 80 and a few study lounges to keep the students working with one another.

There are many laboratories, one with a closed-off chemotherapy room, and all are wired for video recording.

"So we could send three of you in there to work and the rest of us could stay out here and laugh at you," said David Bowyer, RPH, who led students on a tour Monday. "But we'll all have the opportunity to be laughed at."

Each classroom could be recorded to broadcast in another part of the building, archived for later studying or even posted on a professor's Web site.
Andy Spradling, director of University Relations, said everything has been done with Internet use in mind to stay as technologically up-to-date as possible.

A potential working pharmacy has been built on the first floor with countertops and consultation rooms. The school is seeking a company to come in and operate a pharmacy to enhance the school and the students' learning experience.
Sixteen professors are on board, and Stull plans to have 32 by 2009. He said there were about one dozen applications for every position filled. The professors at UC are required to contribute to the pharmacy world, so a lab has even been dedicated to the administrators to pursue their own research.

Stull has started schools of pharmacy before, in Texas and Virginia. He said with only about 93 schools of pharmacy in the country, one at UC should be popular.
Stull said a strong emphasis in a community pharmacist is emerging instead of simply a pharmacist as a pill dispenser, and the school has chosen students who will do well working in the region.

"The lower, southern counties have an acute need," Stull said. "The chains here can't fill their positions."

Andrew Goble, 22, from Louisa, Ky., has just finished his pre-pharmacy work at Morehead State in Kentucky and was headed to pharmacy school no matter what. He's just glad he gets to stay closer to home now.

"Coming from a public school to here, I see a big difference," Goble said. "It's smaller, nicer and everyone seems to have time to help you."
Spradling said most of the students are in their 20s and have just finished their undergraduate degrees.

One student was ready to head to West Virginia State University for biological technology and found out last week he had been accepted. He quickly changed his plans.
Another student is eagerly enduring the two-week orientation then heading on her Hawaiian honeymoon before classes pick up the next week.

About 60 of the 80 students are from West Virginia

Stull said the school received about eight applications for every admitted student. The building seemed open and roomy during the Monday tours, but Spradling said the school will grow in the coming years and most of the areas would be filled.
Contact writer Ann Ali at 348-4819.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Yeager Airport Update.

Things are going well at our airport. Our transportation committee led by Chair Mike Basile of Spilman,Thomas, and Battle has been working with Rick Atkinson, Executive Director of Yeager to continue to grow the desinations and flights in and out of Yeager. Most recently, we called upon our members to write letters of support for a grant application that could result in a direct flight from Yeager to one of two New York Airports.

Finally, an existing air carrier at Yeager has offered to analyze the possibility of adding a regional jet direct flight from Yeager to Detroit. The Transportation Committee helped to mobilize businesses, particularly those with frequent flights to Detroit to aid in this effort.

Please find a copy of the most recent Yeager Newsletter here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Trip to North Carolina Leads to Flickr Encounter

This past weekend I was traveling in various parts of North Carolina as my wife Staci and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. We decided to travel to North Carolina to visit my good friend, Brandon Aragona and his wife Michelle. I grew up with Brandon in Shinnston West Virginia. He is a WVU graduate who recently received his PhD in Neuroscience from Florida State. He was recently published in Nature Neuroscience Magazine. Michelle his wife, has just opened a new retail furniture/décor store called Uptown Nature in Carrboro in the Historic Carr Mill Mall. We were excited to visit the shop and purchase a few great items, like a unique humming bird feeder and blanket. The items Michelle has stocked in the store are very unique and I think they this line of goods would fit perfectly on Capitol Street, the East End, or South Hill here in Kanawha County.

While traveling in the Chapel Hill/Durham area we were able to visit some great restaurants, like Top of the Hill in the heart of UNC’s campus and Mad Hatter in Durham, one of the best breakfast places on earth, well particularly if you are looking for Loxs. I also took some time to visit Whole Foods. I had been hearing so much about Whole Foods as a place I should investigate to expand with an operation in West Virginia. Now that I’ve visited one of their locations in person, I can see why people really like to shop there.

Anyway, the reason I share all of this is to set up a story about Flickr particularly for you bloggers out there who may use Flickr as a resource for photographs and photography for blog usage. For those who may not know, Flickr is an online photo management and sharing application.

While in Raleigh on the way to dinner, several people with professional cameras stopped us as we walked on the sidewalk. They ask, “Could you help us with our contest for Flickr?” Brandon and Michelle immediately refused; not knowing about Flickr. I however, decided to participate having used Flickr before and wanting to help. The group further explained that they were taking casual street pictures for a contest sponsored by Flickr and of which the winning pictures would be featured in a local Raleigh Art Gallery. They placed a blue piece of cardboard behind us, explaining that the pictures could not identify a certain place or location and then the flash bulbs began. It felt a bit like a red carpet walk as you arrived at a movie you were staring in… multiple photographers, lots of flashing lights. Anyway, we were happy to help. It is amazing what applications such as blogs and Flickr are doing at a grassroots level to connect people.

We look forward to continuing this blog as a resource for you to stay informed about the region and the Charleston Area Alliance.