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.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

GW improves rank among nation's top high schools
Daily Mail staff
Thursday May 24, 2007

George Washington High School moved up another 100 spots in this year's "America's Best High Schools" edition of Newsweek.

Last year, GW ranked 447th, up from 810 the previous year. This year, it ranks 347th. The nation has nearly 16,000 high schools. The weekly news magazine selects the top 1,200 for its annual list. GW Principal Nancy Alexander credits the students, faculty and a rigorous curriculum, which includes a broad range of Advanced Placement courses. "We're very pleased with this year's ranking," she said. "Our teachers and students have worked hard and it shows in the results."

Morgantown High also made the elite list, ranked 961st. Morgantown was ranked 998th in 2005 but didn't make it last year. The magazine uses a simple formula to determine its rankings. The number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by students at a school is divided by the number of graduating seniors. This year's rankings reflect last year's graduating class.

"The rigor of the curriculum is vital, as well as the motivation of students to apply their talents," Alexander said.
GW students finished AP testing last week. This year, students at the school took more than 500 exams. Alexander could not say exactly how many students took them. To accommodate the demand, the school had to rent rooms at the Charleston Civic Center and University of Charleston.

Last year, about 300 students took more than 500 exams. In 2005, only 359 exams were given out at the high school. Of those exams given this year, 64 percent were scored at 3 or above. Students receive college credit if they receive a score of 3 and above. AP exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. GW offers about 15 different AP courses, covering all four core subjects -- English, math, science and social studies. A vast majority of the school's students are enrolled in at least one AP course, Alexander said.

She points to this year's sophomore class as an example. Of the 247 students in the class, 87 of them took the AP world history exam. Alexander said the school's rigorous curriculum also is responsible for improved SAT and ACT scores at the high school. GW's average ACT composite score is 23.5 - higher than the national average of 21.1 and state average of 20.6. The school's average SAT verbal and math scores are both 570 - higher than the national average of 503 for verbal and 518 for math. Alexander said she expects GW's Newsweek ranking to continue to climb. She's hopeful more West Virginia schools will make the list. "I think you're going to see growth county-wide in other schools," Alexander said. "I think whatever we can do to prepare students for college and be successful in college, we should."

The results for "America's Best High Schools" are available online at

Contact writer Jessica Karmasek at or 348-1796.

CEO Roundtable Luncheon
June 5, 200712:00 noon
CharlestonArea Alliance, 1116 Smith Street

IT Security

*How to craft an acceptable use policy for company computers
*Choosing a secure infrastructure, operating system and web browser
*Keeping your computers and your employees internet activity secure
*How to keep your website secure without spending thousands of dollars
*Learn what the terms ‘firewalls', ‘unauthorized access' and ‘secure site' really mean

To learn more about how protect the data and intellectual property of your business and to understand the essentials of internet security, please join the Charleston Area Alliance and our panel of presenters:
Keith Morgan, Terradon CommunicationsEric Iskra, Spilman Thomas Battle, PLLC
The CEO Roundtable Luncheon is limited to 30 participants and will be held at the Alliance offices. The event is $5.00 for Charleston Alliance members and their employees; there will be a $20.00 charge for non-members.

To reserve your seat, contact Leanne Stowers at or 304-340-4253. Reserve your seat today!

Art$ to the Max: How the Art$ Power Our Communities

June 1, 2007 8:30 – 10:30 am
Capitol Conference Center Corner of Lee & Capitol Streets -
Entrance on Lee Street


What is the impact of the arts in a community?
What are some best practices of communities where the arts are a vibrant economic driver?
How important are the arts in K-12 education?
What are some good ideas for Charleston to enable us to take “Art$ to the Max?”


Vivian Conly, President Carnegie Hall Foundation, Inc. Paul Helfrich, Executive Director WV Symphony Orchestra Jeff James, Chair Vision Shared Creative Class Working GroupDavid Wohl, Dean College of Arts and Humanities at West Virginia State University

To register, or for more information, please contact Susie Salisbury at 304-340-4253 or

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Live on the Levee committee is in search of a young professional to volunteer his/her time and lead the planning and event preparation for on-going summer event. This event is supported by the City of Charleston and City Council; therefore, this person would be working closely with both.
This is a great opportunity for someone interested in expanding recreational/entertainment options in Charleston - making a real impact on the attractiveness of Charleston to young professionals.
To express your interest, or for more information, please email

Friday, May 18, 2007

SunTrust has immediate openings
SunTrust Bank is looking for qualified candidates to fulfill the positions of Teller 3 and Lead Teller. Job descriptions are listed below. For more information, please contact Linda McClung at 304-340-4408.
Teller 3

Demonstrates proficiency in performing basic, advanced and complex teller transactions. Performs basic customer service functions such as stop payments, research requests, Safe Box access, etc. Consistently follows defined procedures for bank operations and customer service including mastery of Perfect Hour behaviors. Demonstrates competency in knowledge of risk management and loss prevention. Mentors other tellers on teller and customer service functions. Strong competency in identifying unmet customer needs and making referrals.

Minimum Requirement: High school education or equivalent. One year experience as a Teller at STI and completion of Teller Referrals and Product Knowledge 1 and 2 training, or two years comparable experience at a comparable institution.

Preferred Requirements: Completion of Platform Basic Functions Training.

Teller Lead

Supports branches with a low risk environment and no Teller Coordinator (Tier 1 and Tier 3). Performs all teller functions within the branch and has in-depth knowledge of systems, processing and procedures. Demonstrates competency in operational and risk management policies and procedures and ensures other tellers follow bank policies and procedures. Responsible for such activities in the branch as teller line workflow, cash management and controls, the vault, and assisting other tellers with accuracy in cash handling and balancing. Utilizes tools and skills to coach others on defined procedures for bank operations and customer service. Strong competency in identifying unmet customer needs and making referrals. Contributes to the on-boarding of new Tellers.

Minimum Requirements: High school education or equivalent. Two years experience as a Teller at comparable institution. Demonstrated competencies as attained through completion of Teller Referrals and Product Knowledge 1 and 2 training at STI. In-depth knowledge of risk management and loss prevention and demonstrated strong operational skills.

Preferred Requirements: Two years experience as a Teller at STI. Completion of Platform Basic Functions. Demonstrated ability to meet referral expectations and to coach and provide strong leadership.

May 18, 2007

Plant may employ up to 550; Former owner behind restart

By Tom Searls Charleston Gazette Staff Writer

New operators of the stamping plant in South Charleston promised up to 550 manufacturing jobs within five years Thursday during an announcement of the renovation and restart of the plant.
Ray Park, CEO of Park Corp., is the man behind the plan. Park Corp. owned and leased the building to former occupant Union Stamping.

Park drafted a former plant manager, John Wise, to be the president and CEO of what will now be called Charleston Stamping and Manufacturing Inc.

“The prospect of 550 good-paying manufacturing jobs is tremendous news anywhere in the country today,” said Gov. Joe Manchin, who put together a task force last summer to try to get workers back in the South Charleston plant. “The new enterprise was inspired by the business vision and sincere regard John Wise and Ray Park have for this state.”

The new company will continue to stamp steel and aluminum sheets into auto and truck body parts and build subassemblies for vehicle manufacturers. Park brought Wise, a 62-year-old native of England, out of retirement to take on the task. “This is the most exciting thing to happen to me in 20 years, since 1988,” said Wise. In 1988, Wise worked with Park to keep the stamping plant operating before selling it to another firm. Park said it was only natural for him to purchase the old plant’s equipment and start the plant back since he already owned the structure. “It’s fun to do something like that,” he said.

Wise and a group of about 20 others have evaluated the 922,00-square-foot facility and Park plans to invest about $35 million in refurbishing the plant with automated equipment, while repairing the roof, painting the facility and remodeling it. That amount includes a $15 million loan the state Economic Development Authority approved Thursday. “[Park] wanted to put this plant back together,” Wise said. That will include 45 large press-tending robots that will be used to automate four of the plant’s six lines. “We’re investing in technology because without technology we can’t be a success,” Wise said. He said the robots will be among the biggest in the industry and allow the plant to produce large auto and heavy truck parts. “We’ll be competitive today and for many years to come,” Wise predicted.
The old plant needed about 16 people working on a line. Those workers could turn out about 200 pieces an hour, Wise said. The robotic lines will produce 350 to 400 pieces an hour, he said.
“Robots are not replacing people, they are creating jobs,” Wise told the large group in Manchin’s reception room for the announcement. He and Park readily admitted they have no customers lined up, but believe if they renovate the plant, business will follow. “We believe when we get done with this plant and modernize it we will have no problems,” Wise said.

Park began the plant in 1969, spending about five years in the area. He then leased it to several firms, including Volkswagen of America. When VW announced it was leaving in 1988, Park Corp. bought the assets of the MacCorkle Avenue plant and kept Wise as the plant manager. In 1989, Park Corp. leased the building and sold the business to Checker Motors Corp., which operated it separately from its main business. In 1996, Mayflower Vehicle Systems took over the facility and then got out of the business in 2004. Union Stamping took over until 2006. “So once again I got John out of retirement and said, ‘I guess we’ll do this thing all over again,’” Park said.

In early 2006, the plant employed about 350 people and had an annual payroll of $14 million. That was down from almost 1,000 employees a few years earlier. Last summer, Manchin established a task force to identify ways to bring business back to the MacCorkle Avenue plant. He pulled together state, county and community leaders, along with help from the federal level. The group sent out a brochure espousing all the positives of the plant site. Kent Carper, Kanawha County Commission president, said “a lot of people threw the towel in” and believed the plant would never come back. “The city of South Charleston didn’t do anything,” he said. “The mayor at the time just said, ‘That’s the way it is.’” South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb did not return calls for comment.
“We, the people of Kanawha County and West Virginia, owe this governor a great, great deal of gratitude,” Carper said. He noted the plant will be taken off county tax books for several years, but said that doesn’t matter. “I can live with that. These are real jobs,” he said.

A number of county legislators were in attendance and said they found the news exciting, also.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha. “And this is wonderful news, particularly for South Charleston.” Five hundred new jobs, she said, “is something to look forward to.” “I think any time you can bring together these guys who have a proven record of success it’s the best possible scenario,” said Delegate Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha. Wise said the jobs will pay a “competitive” salary, benefits “and every employee will share in the profit of the company.”

The plant will hire 79 workers in the first year, increasing that to 140 jobs the following year and up to 200 by the third year, Wise said. By the fifth year it hopes to employ 550 workers. It’s not clear if the jobs will be filled through the United Auto Workers union, as they were under the plant’s most recent manager, Union Partners LLC of Cleveland. The plant’s closure last year was precipitated by Local 3399’s rejection of pay and benefits concessions. Park said in the past that union concessions would have been necessary to keep the plant running under Union Partners.
UAW representatives could not be reached for comment.

Those interested in applying for the first wave of jobs can start June 1. Positions will be open for manufacturing specialists and skilled trade positions.

To apply, contact WORKFORCE West Virginia at 558-0342 or (877) 967-5498 during the two weeks after June 1.

Staff writer Joe Morris contributed to this report. To contact staff writer Tom Searls call 348-5198.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Alliance Advertising at Yeager Airport

“More people move through Yeager Airport than one might think,” says Matthew Ballard, President and CEO of the Charleston Area Alliance. Because of the high level of traffic, particularly from the business community, the Alliance has placed a new advertising campaign in the baggage claim area of the airport.

Yeager airport offers a prime opportunity for marketing, especially for a business and economic development organization. “Yeager has eleven direct destinations, 230 weekly departures, and over 9,500 weekly seats. As business leaders arrive at our airport, we want them to be welcomed by an announcement that the Charleston region is a great place to do business,” said Ballard. The headline of the advertisement is a play on air travel, stating, “Land, Now Expand.” The advertisement features just a few of the globally known companies in the Charleston region like, NGK, DuPont, Bayer, Toyota, and Dow. “Our global companies host many guests, customers and vendors, we want them to keep West Virginia in mind for their next big project,” said Ballard.

To view the Yeager ad, click here. If your company would like to learn more about advertising at Yeager Airport, please call Robert Hill at 304.344.8033. Alliance business members receive a discount on advertising at Yeager Airport.

SBA Featuring Access To Capital Segment At Teaming To Win Conference
“Loan Blitz” Provides Small Businesses Direct Contact With Financing Resources

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Are you a small business owner looking for funding to diversify or expand a business, renovate an existing facility, purchase a business or property, or just looking for funding for a small business start-up? The U.S. Small Business Administration is bringing an Access To Capital “Loan Blitz” program to the 2007 Teaming To Win Conference event on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The event is being held in Conference Room 5 at the Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, W.V.

Extensive small business resources will be available during the conference to meet exclusively with small business owners for individualized 30 minute consulting sessions. Open to existing, expanding or start-up businesses, this unique FREE business program will provide access to top small business lenders, consultants, specialists, and experienced credit counselors. Industry professionals will be available to discuss various SBA loan programs including SBAExpress, Community Express, 7(a) and 504 Fixed-Asset Loan and provide financial guidance whether your business is looking for $5,000 to start or $2 million to expand.

Depending on the type of financing, it may be possible for businesses to complete the loan application process during their 30-minute session. For loans under $25,000, the SBA Community Express program offers a streamlined application with no requirement for collateral, financials or business plans. With the necessary good credit rating, borrowers can complete an application and receive instant approval with funding within two weeks. Businesses wanting to apply will need to provide: current personal identification (driver’s license), business license, business banking account, and have a current credit report with scores for all applicants. Credit reports may be obtained during the event for a nominal fee.

Space and times are limited. Appointments are 30-minutes in length, on a first-come, first served basis, and must be scheduled prior to the event. Registration deadline is Friday, May 25, 2007. To participate and for additional information, contact the SBA’s West Virginia District Office at 1-800-767-8052 extension 8 or via email at Information is also available by selecting the SBA Loan Blitz feature under the Spotlight section at or on the Teaming To Win web site at

Monday, May 14, 2007

May 13, 2007
Homegrown company becomes global leader

Contact: Lara Ramsburg, 304-558-2000

Pharmaceutical makers Mylan Laboratories Inc. and Merck KGaA on Saturday announced the signing of a definitive agreement under which Mylan will acquire Merck’s generics business for $6.7 billion, making Mylan the world’s third-largest manufacturer of generic drugs.

Canonsburg, Pa.-based Mylan Laboratories, which was founded by Milan Puskar and Don Panoz in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., in 1961, now will employ about 10,000 and would have had 2006 combined revenues of $4.2 billion. The Mylan Pharmaceuticals division is headquartered in Morgantown, W.Va., and employs 2,000.

Gov. Joe Manchin today congratulated Mylan’s Chief Executive Officer Robert Coury and Chairman of the Board Milan Puskar on this monumental step in the company’s 46-year history. “Mike Puskar and Robert Coury have taken a bold and logical step to secure the growth of Mylan’s future,” the governor said.

“This is an amazing accomplishment which shows once again Mylan’s leadership team executing on its vision with drive and commitment, while maintaining and enhancing their leading position in the generic pharmaceutical industry,” Manchin said. “This acquisition immediately transforms Mylan from the nation’s third-largest manufacturer of generics to the world’s third-largest manufacturer. As Mylan continues to grow globally, West Virginia will remain part of its solid foundation.“I am very proud that Mylan was founded in, and remains a leading employer in, the great state of West Virginia.”

Mylan Laboratories Inc. is a leading pharmaceutical company with three principle subsidiaries, Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., Mylan Technologies Inc. and UDL Laboratories Inc., and a controlling interest in Matrix Laboratories Limited, India. Mylan develops, licenses, manufactures, markets and distributes an extensive line of generic and proprietary products. For more information about Mylan, visit

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Business for Breakfast
The State Journal and SCORE (Counselors to America’s Small Business) will host a Business for Breakfast on Friday, May 25 at 7:30 AM at the Charleston Marriott Town Center’s Whitewater Grille. The event will end at 8:30 AM.

Sean Nichols of ExecuTrain will discuss “Internet Security Made Easy.”

“Keeping your computers, your customers, and your internet activity secure is vital to your business,” said Nichols. “How do you stay secure in the rapidly changing environment? We'll review the key concerns and solutions to protect your site and your customers secure without spending thousands of dollars. “

“I keep hearing phrases like ‘fire walls’ and ‘unauthorized access’ and ‘secure site’,” said Kimberly Donahue of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “So this is the time and the place to get up to date on these concerns.”

There is no fee, although businesses are encouraged to purchase breakfast. Pre-registration would be appreciated but is optional. Those who wish to pre-register can do so on-line at or e-mail SCORE at

“Business for Breakfast is a real-world learning opportunity,” said Charleston Area SCORE Chairman Paul Smart. “A healthy breakfast will improve but not interfere with your work day.”

”As an added incentive, we’ll be throwing in a free 6 month subscription to The State Journal for everyone there,” added Rebekah Hogue of the State Journal.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Alliance Board Chair to be honored at upcoming event
Congratulations and thank you to Jack Rossi for his dedication to the Alliance, and to the many other community organizations he has devoted himself to over the years.

Business leaders to be honored in May
The West Virginia State University Foundation is set to honor two Charleston business leaders during an annual dinner to be held May 24.

Charles H. James II, whose father started one of the oldest and biggest black businesses in the country, and accountant Jack Rossi will receive awards for contributing to business in West Virginia.

"This is an opportunity to honor [and] really distinguish people," said foundation president James Rowley. Both men have given in many ways to the university and state, Rowley said. The University Foundation, which supports WVSU and West Virginia State Community and Technical College, hopes to raise $1 million this year, said foundation vice president Robin Baldwin. "The money involved goes almost entirely into student scholarships," Rowley said. "These are students that are deserving. They are needy students and they are primarily from West Virginia."
Anyone interested in supporting the foundation can sponsor the dinner, buy tickets or give money directly to the organization. The 30th annual dinner will start at 7 p.m. at the Embassy Suites in Charleston. A social hour begins at 6 p.m. Individual tickets cost $150.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Job Opportunity with Distinctive Gourmet

Distinctive Gourmet
, the exclusive caterer to the Charleston Civic Center is searching for a fun, energetic TEAM player to manage our catering sales and marketing duties. This position is less about meeting demanding sales quotas and more about building lasting relationships with current and prospective clients. An honest, dependable, detail oriented, hard working person will be rewarded with a fun, satisfying career. If you are fed up with 50 to 60+ hour work weeks, we can offer a more flexible schedule to allow time to enjoy life.

We are searching for the type of person who takes care and concern in all aspects of their career and want to be a part of an energetic atmosphere. We are seeking an individual who will take an “ownership” attitude towards the operations and not a worker bee perspective. Even if you have never worked in the “catering” industry but have a food and beverage background, or excellent people skills and willing to learn our industry, send us your resume.Catering, restaurant, hotel, or sales experience is a plus, but we are also looking for the right personality and strong leadership qualities.
“I come from a restaurant background working 75 hours a week and was not able to “have a life”. This job requires hard work and dedication but the rewards are well worth the effort. This career allows more flexible hours, and the ability to have a balanced work and home life. I have been here for 10 years and can honestly say, I enjoy my job.” ----Todd Tinney, GM.
Email your resume to No phone calls please.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Position Opening for Vision Shared Inc.

Vision Shared Inc., a nonprofit corporation, seeks a President to oversee and champion A Vision Shared, the state’s economic development implementation plan. This new position provides an excellent opportunity to serve West Virginia through working with hundreds of volunteers, many diverse organizations and a cadre of state leaders committed to improving the state. The President has roles in planning, governance, external relations, finance and fundraising. The successful candidate, in part, will clearly demonstrate administrative leadership, excellence in communications, a natural knack for organizational and process management, proven collaborative skills and the ability to work effectively with broad and diverse stakeholders. Must possess great flexibility in being able to respond quickly and willing to travel around West Virginia.

Salary will be based on experience and an attractive benefits package is being offered. Bachelor’s degree required.
For more background about A Vision Shared (e.g., the full job description, a Board member listing and other information), visit

Send cover letter describing specific interest, résumé, minimum salary requirements and contact information for at least three references by mail to: President Position, 364 Patterson Drive, #257, Morgantown, WV 26505 or email The application deadline is May 31, 2007.

Breakfast with BrickStreet

The Charleston Area Alliance will be hosting a roundtable discussion on Workers’ Compensation on Friday, May 11 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at our Smith Street location. Greg Burton, President and CEO of BrickStreet Insurance, will be on hand to provide an update on NCCI and their application of NCCI Loss Cost Rates and E-Mods effective July 1, 2007.

Do not miss this opportunity to learn about important workers’ compensation business issues.

This event is free, but reservations are required. Please RSVP by May 8 to Jama L. Jarrett at or 304-340-4253.

Friday, May 04, 2007

East End Main Street Program and Merchants Receive Awards and
Recognition during Main Street Banquet

The Charleston Area Alliance would like to congratulate our East End Main Street program and volunteers, on their awards received during the West Virginia Main Street Awards Banquet. On Wednesday, May 2, Governor Joe Manchin presented the East End Main Street program and East End merchants with awards during this annual banquet, hosted by the West Virginia Development Office and the West Virginia Main Street program, at the Embassy Suites Hotel.

The volunteers for the East End Main Street Design Committee were awarded with the "Most Outstanding Design Committee" for a large community award based on their wonderful work on educating the public on historic preservation issues, the East End Facade assistance grant program, and the East End Public Arts mural. They also assisted numerous East End merchants and property owners with design assistance.

Program Manager, Mary Alice Hodgson, was also recognized for completing the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Manager Certification program. Mary Alice is now one of only two practicing Certified Main Street Managers in the state, and one of approximately 120 in the nation.

First Lady Gayle Manchin presented several volunteer recognition awards to EEMS recipients:

Volunteer of the Year - Janie Woodson-Claytor
Businessperson of the Year - Tray and Jackie Coleman
Board Member of the Year - Lori Brannon
Public Official of the Year - Chief Brent Webster

The East End Main Street Program was also presented with a Continuing Education Award for providing outstanding volunteer and staff educational opportunities in community and economic development.

Congratulations to all of our winners and to our East End Main Street Program.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Job Announcement

Client Services Professional

Maple Creative, a full-service marketing firm, is seeking a client services professional. Basic duties include public relations, media relations, project management, creative concept development, client interface and writing. The candidate's writing skills will be a key determinant in the hiring decision. The successful candidate must be able to write ad copy, as well as more traditional scholarly writing (reports, press releases, etc.). This person should be as effective in bullet points as they are in paragraphs. The successful candidate will possess a bachelor's degree in business, communications, public relations or journalism. The candidate will have at least three years of employment experience in marketing, advertising or public relations. Agency experience is strongly preferred. Please send resume, cover letter, references and writing samples.

Reply in confidence to:

Skip Lineberg (via e-mail to
Maple Creative, P.O. Box 3312, Charleston, WV 25333

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

CEO Roundtable Luncheon

"Going International"

How to take your business international
Why go international?
Resources to help you take your organization international
Advantages and disadvantages of going international
Success stories of local companies who have gone international

To learn more about taking your business international, please join the Charleston Area Alliance and our panel of presenters:

Mike Friel, Jaguar Educational

Jim Bradbury, Kanawha Scales

John Goetz, Charleston Steel Company

Steve Spence, West Virginia Development Office

Join us at the Alliance offices on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 12:00 noon for this roundtable.

The event is limited to 30 participants. You must pre-register and can do so by contacting Leanne Stowers at or 304-340-4253. The event is $5.00 for Charleston Alliance members and their employees; there will be a $20.00 charge for non-members.