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, June 28, 2007

Tax will be half of original by July 2008
Gov. Joe Manchin said the reduction of the food sales tax to 4 percent effective July 1 is part of his and the Legislature’s continuing effort to ease the tax burden on West Virginians. This is the second food tax reduction since Manchin took office and it marks a cut of 1/3 off the original 6 percent tax.

“Since taking office, we have reduced the sales tax on food 33 percent – a tax break of $50 million for all West Virginians – and it will be half of its original amount by July 2008,” Manchin said. “We will continue to evaluate our tax structure as our economy grows and look for ways to cut taxes fairly and responsibly.”

The governor said the gradual step down of the sales tax is fiscally responsible and won’t place hardship on the state’s revenue or cash flow. “This will benefit our residents and will allow our businesses to enjoy a more level playing field with those in neighboring states.”

The sales tax on food and food ingredients for human consumption will be reduced from 5 percent to 4 percent July 1. Prepared food, along with food sold through vending machines and soft drinks will be taxed at 6 percent.

During the 2005 special session of the Legislature, both the House and Senate, with the support of the governor, passed legislation to reduce the state sales tax on food. The food tax previously dropped from 6 percent to 5 percent Jan. 1, 2006.

Tax Commissioner Virgil Helton said the State Tax Department has been working with grocers and retailers to ensure the correct rates are applied.

Information about the sales tax on food may be found in Publication TSD 419 on the Tax Department Web site, or by calling 1-800-982-8297.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


$8.6 million investment to hire 80; First vehicle assembly plant in West Virginia

WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. – At a ceremony today, Gov. Joe Manchin joined Hideichiro Chikahiro, president of Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc. (HMMUSA), Sen. Jay Rockefeller and local officials to announce that the company will assemble medium and heavy-duty trucks here.
This is the first vehicle assembly facility in West Virginia.The $8.6 million investment will be used to upgrade the former Walker Systems facility and install manufacturing equipment at the 30.35-acre site at 1000 Innovation Drive. Once operations begin in November, the 194,000-square-foot plant will employ about 80 people who will build 2,500 trucks annually.
“We are extremely proud to welcome Hino Motors to West Virginia and to officially announce the formation of what I’m sure will be a wonderful, long-term partnership,” Manchin said. “This announcement is the result of remarkable cooperation and coordination among state a gencies, local development authorities and private industry. The Williamstown plant is not only West Virginia’s first vehicle assembly plant, it’s also the first assembly plant for Hino Motors in the U.S.,” the governor said. “It’s a great day for Wood County and for West Virginia.”Chikahiro said, “We are happy to call Wood County, West Virginia, home to our new truck assembly plant. This represents the latest step in our ambitious growth plans in America and we will strive to be a good corporate citizen while growing with the city, county and state.” Rockefeller said he is incredibly proud to have helped bring Hino Motors to West Virginia.

“It’s remarkable to think that in just 15 short years, our state has become home to an automobile parts manufacturer, a sheet-metal stamping plant, a producer of oxygen sensors, ignition coils and sparkplugs, and now a full-scale automotive assembly plant in Williamstown,” Rockefeller said. “This is truly a proud day for all West Virginians. We have all worked very hard - government, business and most importantly, West Virginia’s workers - to put our state on the map, and it’s clear the rest of the world is realizing that West Virginia is a world-class place to do business.”
Rockefeller, who has a long history of attracting Japanese investment to West Virginia, first pursued Hino in 2001 and invited the company to participate in an investment seminar in the state. Following their visit, Rockefeller met with Hino officials that same year during a trade mission to Japan where he urged the officials, including current Hino Chairman, Mr. Jagawa Tadaaki, to consider locating in West Virginia. Since that time, Rockefeller has continued to encourage Hino to locate a facility here, and has worked with Manchin and others to ensure this day became a reality.
Manchin said the state’s strategic location puts Hino’s trucks close to the company’s customer base in the eastern United States. West Virginia is within overnight shipping distance of more than half the U.S. population.
HMMUSA employs more than 930 employees across the United States and its investment is $321.2 million. Current operations include: Company headquarters in Farmington Hills, Mich., Component production in Ontario, Calif., for Toyota, Component production in Marion, Ark. for Toyota, and final tage truck assembly at TABC Inc., in Long Beach, Calif.
Last month, HMMUSA announced it will invest an additional $70 million to add equipment to its 400,000-square- foot Marion, Arkansas, plant. The plant represents a $230 million investment and employs more than 600 people.Toyota owns controlling interest of Hino Motors Ltd.
Outline of Hino West Virginia Location: 1000 Innovation Drive, Williamstown, West Virginia. Plant overview: Medium and heavy truck production. Production capacity: 2,500 trucks per year. Site area: 30.35 acres. Investment: $8.6 million. Start of production: November 2007. Employment: Approx. 80.
Editor’s Note: High-resolution images of the type of trucks that will be assembled in Williamstown are available in the media center section of the governor’s Web site.


Responsible Government helps ensure future of retirement programs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The governor’s “Responsible Government” efforts to pay down the state’s massive Teachers’ Retirement System debt, including using $807 million from the June 14 tobacco settlement bond sale, will save West Virginia taxpayers more than $2.5 billion and ensure the future of the retirement fund, the governor announced today.

“When I took office in 2005, we had a $5 billion deficit and a Teachers’ Retirement System that was only 22 percent funded,” Manchin said. “Our cost just to pay the unfunded portion of the teachers’ retirement was expected to grow to almost a quarter-billion dollars a year.

“If we want West Virginia to prosper, we simply could not leave that unmanageable bill to our children and grandchildren to figure out how to pay.”

Working with the Legislature, Manchin has appropriated an additional $768 million more than the state was required to pay toward the Teachers’ Retirement System debt. Those advances, combined with this tobacco securitization, will result in more than $1.5 billion in additional deposits to that retirement system.

“Paying down this debt has cut our required payments from an eventual estimate of over $720 million to a much more affordable $285 million a year, and ensured the well-deserved retirement of our teachers,” Manchin said. “Together with additional payments to the troopers’ retirement system, we have saved West Virginians well in excess of $2.5 billion.”

The $768 million in advance payments and the tobacco securitization will enable the state to amortize its unfunded debt on a level annual basis at $285 million for the next 27 years. The Teachers’ Retirement System will have gone from 22 percent funded to 51 percent funded during this period.

In addition, nearly $300 million in excess payments have been contributed to the state troopers’ pension funds since fiscal year 2004, resulting in more than $100 million in savings on future debit payments toward that retirement program, the governor announced. The tobacco securitization was finalized earlier today.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Expansion Management also praises three West Virginia metro areas

West Virginia is among the nation’s leaders when it comes to attracting businesses the last eight years, according to an extensive study completed by Expansion Management magazine and the National Policy Research Council.

The state ranks 8th among all 50 states and three West Virginia cities are among the top 20 small metro areas for business recruitment and attraction in the study which was published in this month’s edition of the magazine. Charleston was ranked 8th, Parkersburg, 14th, and Wheeling, 17th. Also, Arlington, Va., which is part of the Washington-Virginia-West Virginia metropolitan statistical area, was ranked 20th for top small counties for recruitment and attraction.

Gov. Joe Manchin said the state’s high rankings illustrate that the state’s business climate has witnessed dramatic improvements in recent years and it’s making a difference in how companies perceive West Virginia. “This study provides substantive, statistical evidence of what we’ve been talking about: West Virginia is truly ‘open for business,’” Manchin said. “There’s no better indicator of that than the actual companies that have located here and succeeded here and this study reflects that.”

According to Bill King, chief editor of Expansion Management, the rankings are based on the number of businesses that relocated to another market and the number of branches opened during the most recent eight-year period that still survive today, as a percent of all business establishments in the market.

The study uses the National Policy Research Council’s interactive database of 19 million companies. The editorial focus of Expansion Management is to provide information that helps business leaders evaluate potential locations, while NPRC is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to serving state and local policymakers.

In an introduction to the rankings, King said for the metropolitan statistical areas and counties that ranked high in this study, it represents the best of all possible validation that their local economies are on the right track. “To put this into perspective, it is important to note that there are 362 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) and 3,141 counties in the United States, so making this list puts these locations in pretty rarified atmosphere,” he writes in the article.

“In a very real sense, this is a reflection of the marketplace at work, only in this case, the market is making buy-no buy decisions where the product is cities and towns as a good place to establish one of your company’s operating facilities,” King wrote.

Manchin emphasized that the study points out that government can have a positive role in recruiting businesses. “West Virginia is a profitable place to locate and expand your business and we’re going to continue our efforts to push forward to make it even better.”

More information about the study and a complete listing of rankings is available at the magazine’s Web site,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Young Professional's Housing Sub-Committee Releases
Minutes from May Meeting

The Charleston Area Alliance Young Professionals' Housing Sub-Committee met on May 23, 2007 at the offices of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP.

To review the minutes from this meeting, click here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Michael C. Gibbons, President of Ann Arbor based Mainstreet Ventures Inc., has been elected Treasurer for the Board of Directors of the Washington-based National Restaurant Association for the 2007-2008 term. Mr. Gibbons was elected by his peers to serve as Treasurer and took the office effective May 20th. The official announcement took place at the Association’s Board meeting and annual convention in Chicago, May 18th through May 22nd, 2007.

The Treasurer is a volunteer position, responsible for overseeing the financial well-being of the organization. The position is given to a member of the Board of Directors who is a leader in the restaurant industry and shows leadership skills, involvement in the Board activities, stature and involvement in restaurant industry activities.

The National Restaurant Association was founded in 1919 and is the leading business association for the restaurant industry which is comprised of 935,000 restaurant and food service outlets and a work force of 12.8 million employees. (

“I am honored and humbled to have been elected by some of the very best restaurateurs in the country to serve the industry in this capacity,” said Mr. Gibbons. “Our industry faces many challenges, but I look forward to putting forward my best effort to lead us to a brighter future.”

Mr. Gibbons is a 30 year veteran of the restaurant industry and president/owner of Mainstreet Ventures, Inc. which owns and operates 15 fine dining venues in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Florida. In downtown Charleston West Virginia, The Chop House, Tidewater Grill and Gratzi at the Charleston Town Center are with of the Mainstreet Ventures family of fine restaurants.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


WESTON, Fla. – Gov. Joe Manchin on Wednesday will share in person West Virginia’s “Open for Business” message to risk management officials and executives from some of the country’s leading corporations as part of the AIG Risk Management Advisory Board Meeting. Manchin will speak for about 30 minutes and take questions about improvements to the state’s economy and West Virginia’s business climate since he took office in 2005. His topics will include civil justice and insurance reforms, reduction in long-term debt, clean coal technology and the state’s role in national energy independence. Corporations scheduled to attend include Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Dow Chemical, Entergy and Florida Power and Light, in addition to representatives from AIG.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sign up to Clean-up!

VOLUNTEER for some good, clean fun at the urban neighborhoods Adopt-A-Highway Event.

Saturday, June 16th at 9:00 a.m., volunteers will meet at the University of Charleston Ballroom (Geary Student Union, 3rd Floor). The 6-mile clean-up starts with a free breakfast, brief training video, supplies, and route distribution.

This event is co-sponsored by the East End Clean and Safe Committe, West Side Main Street and the Kanawha City Community Association with the support of the West Virginia Divisions of Highways and Natural Resources.

Please contact your neighborhood representative at the number listed below to volunteer by June 14th.

East EndWashington Street East clean-up
Mary Alice Hodgson

West SideWest Washington Street clean-up
Jennifer Jordan

Kanawha CityMacCorkle Avenue clean-up
Pam Burka

Friday, June 08, 2007

Business Writing Seminar

Want to improve your writing skills? How would you like to create persuasive, tactful and effective documents? Are you interested in career advancement? If you answered yes to these questions, then register now to attend the Business Writing Seminar, hosted by the Charleston Area Alliance. Modules include:
Correct Writing
Clear Writing
Persuasive Writing
Tone in Letters
Readability in Memos
Graphics and Data in Presentations

Space is limited! Cost is $50 for Members and $75 for Non-Members. Register today! For additional information or questions please contact Leanne Stowers at

This workshop is a program of is owned and operated by Joseph Judge.

The Economic Development Committee of the Charleston Area Alliance is implementing a summer series of meetings titled "Let's Listen" beginning with our regularly scheduled meeting at 8:00-9:15 AM on June 15 at the Alliance offices at 1116 Smith Street.

Our speakers for the first meeting will be Tom Lane from Bowles Rice McDavid Graff and Love and Scott Rotruck from Chesapeake Energy Corporation discussing recent litigation related to the oil and gas industry.

The purpose of the summer series is to provide information and education to Alliance member businesses on significant issues which have been recently publicized as having the potential to impact our local economy.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Komen Community Challenge Rally in Charleston, WV

Every person diagnosed with breast cancer is someone’s child, mother, sister or best friend. And every one of them deserves an equal chance at early detection and treatment that could save their life. You get it. We get it. Does our state legislature?

On June 7 beginning at 10 a.m., breast cancer survivors, activists and other special guests will gather at the Appalachian Power Park in Charleston for the West Virginia Komen Community Challenge to tell their state legislators they MUST close policy, research and funding gaps that keep thousands of women from receiving breast cancer screening and treatment that could save their lives.

Join us in the mission to end breast cancer forever.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Area schools named ‘Schools of Excellence'

From Daily Mail Staff ReportsMonday May 28, 2007

Five area schools have earned the state's prestigious School of Excellence award.

The Schools of Excellence for 21st Century Learning are selected based on the following criteria: a rigorous and challenging curriculum, a safe and drug-free learning environment, participatory leadership, active teaching and learning, an environment that strengthens teacher skills, documented student achievement, and the implementation of advanced and innovated programs.

Area schools honored as 2007-08 Schools of Excellence:

· In Kanawha County - Albans Elementary, Mary Ingles Elementary and Ruffner Elementary
· In Putnam County - Poca Elementary
· In Boone County - Scott High School

Individual school applications were reviewed by a special panel over a two-day period. During site visits, schools provided verification and documentation to support the final recommendation for recognition