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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Helping seniors

July 31, 2007
In addition to creating 1,000 new jobs to boost Kanawha County’s economy, the proposed Cross Lanes tourist resort also would benefit aging West Virginians greatly.

The new state law authorizing table games at racetracks specifies that each track must pay a $1.5 million state license fee the first year and $2.5 million every year thereafter. The revenue goes to the Bureau of Senior Services.

Each $1 million in license money from the Tri-State resort could pay for 200,000 meals delivered to oldsters and 73,000 hours of in-home care, track manager Cathy Brackbill told reporter Rusty Marks.

After the first year, the license fee would amount to 500,000 senior meals annually and about 180,000 hours of care for infirm folks. Since West Virginia has America’s highest ratio of seniors, this is a significant blessing.

“I’ve got a mother who’s a senior, and she’s had to move back to West Virginia,” Brackbill told Marks. The new windfall of resort revenue could help many oldsters who currently slip through the cracks, she said.

Of course, the biggest reason to vote yes for the new resort in the Aug. 11 special election is to inject much-needed vitality into Kanawha’s economy. If the referendum passes, track owners are pledged to invest $250 million in a high-rise hotel, convention center, spa and other facilities to draw busloads of tourists from many states. Hundreds of temporary construction jobs would be created, followed by 1,000 new permanent jobs paying attractive wages.

Thanks to the “multiplier effect,” each job adds around two more. New working families need supermarkets, movie theaters, doctors, restaurants, clothing stores, bowling alleys, car dealers, dentists, plumbers, schoolteachers, hardware stores — you name it — so 1,000 added resort workers could spawn perhaps 2,000 more service jobs.

This economic boost would be wonderful for the state capital region, which has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs over several decades. For this reason, a yes vote is endorsed by virtually every business, labor and civic group in the Charleston area, along with most public leaders.

Sadly, evangelical churches and their allies are waging an intense drive to kill the resort and the 3,000 potential new jobs. The fervor of their campaign has snowballed to huge proportions. It will be a shame if they destroy Kanawha County’s chance for more prosperity — and block meals and care for a half-million aging West Virginians.

We hope progressive Kanawha residents flock to the polls Aug. 11 in sufficient numbers to overcome the negative onslaught. The tourist resort promises to be the best economic gain this region has seen in many, many years. Losing it would be a dismal blow.

Table games will bring more jobs
The community would benefit by making Tri-State a destinationTuesday
July 31, 2007

OPPONENTS of table games at the Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming Center are billing the Aug. 11 vote as a referendum on gambling in general.

The vote is nothing like that.

The racetrack was built for dog racing in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the state added video slot machines. The issue before voters Aug. 11 is whether Tri-State should be allowed to add table games to its mix. The plan is to turn Tri-State into a destination for tourists. Destination gambling is a far cry from convenience gambling. When people board that airplane for Las Vegas, they know they are going to lose money.

The only unknowns are how much and how soon.

People see their gambling losses as a tradeoff for the entertainment. Playing table games such as poker, dice and roulette are diversions for most people. This is a far cry from the convenience gambling at the mini-casinos that dot the state. Those video parlors prey on local people. Two-thirds of the people who visit Tri-State are not from West Virginia.

Owners of the racetrack have promised that if the measure passes, they will invest at least $250 million in their facility to turn it into a resort.

A hotel, an arena, shops and the like will create 750 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs, managers at the racetrack said. The current owners of the racetrack -- Hartman & Tyner -- have a solid reputation and have delivered on an addition. "These are credible people with credible track records," Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who favors a "yes" vote to table games, has said. "It's a $250 million investment that only comes once in a lifetime. They'll follow through."

Only one outcome is certain on Aug. 11:

If this referendum fails, the area will have no chance at all of a $250 million investment, and 1,000 permanent jobs will not be added.

Voting down the referendum would not stop gambling.

It would end an opportunity to add 1,000 jobs to an area that needs jobs.

A "yes" vote is the only vote that makes sense.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Letters to the editor (from our members)

Charleston Gazette
July 27, 2007


As President of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, I would like to encourage Kanawha County voters to vote in favor of the Aug. 11 referendum.

For years, West Virginia has successfully promoted its natural beauty and exciting outdoor activities. Charleston and the state have capitalized on these opportunities and built a thriving tourism industry, which attracts millions of out-of-state dollars to West Virginia each year. Tourism dollars are vital to our economy and bringing the proposed facility to Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming Center will only help this industry continue to grow.

The addition of this facility would expand what we have to offer and help attract thousands of tourists each year — bringing more guests to Kanawha County hotels, customers to our restaurants and patrons to our shops. It will also diversify what we have to offer and enable the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau to attract a wide variety of conventions and out-of state tourists to our area.

On behalf of the Bureau, I urge residents to vote yes on Aug. 11.

Julie Caldwell


As a Charleston businessman, I encourage Kanawha County residents to vote in favor of the upcoming referendum on Aug. 11 because of the economic development opportunities that could arise in the Kanawha Valley.

If the referendum passes, it is my understanding that Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming Center will build a multi-milliondollar expansion to its facility, including a hotel entertainment complex, convention facilities, restaurants, boutique shops and more.

The economic impact of this expansion is twofold. Initially, the 16-month, $250 million construction project will create over 200 transitional construction jobs for our union workers.

Likewise, the expansion will create 600 or more permanent jobs, many of which will pay an average of $35,000 a year (with tips) and offer health care and retirement benefits. These jobs will create an infusion of revenues into the state and local economy for both the short and long term.

Furthermore, this project will make Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming Center a prime tourist destination for visitors throughout the eastern United States. It will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars and attract visitors to many other tourism industry businesses in the state.
Kanawha County needs this economic growth.

Jack Rossi

Statement of
James Sturgeon
Chamber of Commerce Chairman
Matthew Ballard

Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce
July 26, 2007

The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the gaming referendum to be presented to Kanawha County voters on August 11, 2007.

The Charleston Area Alliance has taken no official position on this issue.

As one of the oldest chambers of commerce in the United States, the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce has served the businesses and people of Charleston and Kanawha County for over a century. Its board of directors consists of 27 distinguished business and community leaders who donate their time for the benefit of our entire community.

The chamber’s board of directors held several meetings concerning the upcoming table games referendum. After long discussion and thoughtful consideration, the overwhelming majority of directors voted to endorse the measure. The board of directors is the chamber’s official policy making body.

The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce recognizes that table gaming is a complex issue on which our members and the public may hold various viewpoints. We appreciate the perspective of those who may disagree with our decision. However, as a leading advocate for economic growth in our community, we believe it is vital for us to publicly endorse and actively support this measure.

All chamber members and citizens can make their views known at the ballot box, and we encourage everyone to exercise his or her right to vote. Voting early is easy and avoids the necessity of going to a polling station on a Saturday. Any registered voter can vote early by going to the Kanawha County Voter Registration Office during normal business hours at 415 Quarrier Street, Charleston, (the corner of Court and Quarrier Street).

Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce Supports Referendum

The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the gaming referendum in Kanawha County on the August 11, 2007 ballot. If passed by a majority of the public, the referendum would allow the Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming Center complex in Kanawha County to expand its facility, creating an additional 1000 new jobs and a capital investment of more than $250 million.

Jim Sturgeon, Chair of the Charleston Chamber, says the endorsement of the referendum is based on new job creation, increased tourism for the region and support of the tax base. “This project alone will create over 900 permanent jobs in Kanawha County and help to solidify our tax base that supports our schools and education systems. Our Chamber Board of Directors has deliberated on the issue and endorses the referendum and encourages the voters of Kanawha County to support the referendum on August 11.”

From an economic development standpoint, Matthew Ballard, President of the Charleston Chamber, believes passage of the referendum will add a positive element to the regional economy. “There is an important missing piece to our local economy – a consistent over-night tourism draw to the area. The passage of this referendum will draw more out-of-state tourists to the entire county, and when tourism increases on this scale everyone benefits.”

Sunday, July 29, 2007

How difficult is it to own your own franchise?
(reproduced from The Herald-Mail ONLINE)

One local owner says hire an attorney and an accountant before you take the plunge


TRI-STATE - Sharon and Robert Wyne split parenthood with split shifts after they opened Hagers-town's first 7-Eleven franchise on Dual Highway in 1968.

Nearly 40 years later, the Wynes - now in a different Dual Highway location - continue taking turns tending the franchise they bought as an enterprising young couple.

"We had a lot of high hopes as young people," Sharon Wyne, 62, said in a recent phone interview. "Some years have been good. Some years have not. Some years have been disastrous."

Whether it's young adults looking for a business opportunity or older adults looking for ways to spend their retirement, the attraction to franchised small businesses has increased across the United States in recent years, said Terry Hill, vice president of communications for the International Franchise Association.

Since there's no such thing as a franchisee license, figuring out how many franchises are locally operated is a difficult task, said Cassandra Latimer, deputy director of the Washington County Economic Development Commission.

"There's not a franchisee-specific license that companies would have to have to do business in Washington County," Latimer said.
Hill agreed that the numbers are hard to pin down since there are so many different layers of ownership.

There are three main types of franchises, according to
  • Business format franchises, such as 7-Eleven and Meineke, companies that sell to franchisees the right to sell their goods or services and use their business models.
  • Distributorships, such as auto dealerships.
  • Trademark or brand name licensing, which grants licensees permission to use a company's trademark in conjunction with a business, such as Coca-Cola and the New York Yankees, according to

Buying into a passion.

Retired Hagerstown Police Department Lt. Rick Johnson bought baseball business franchise Extra Innings last year as a way to spend his retirement doing something he loved alongside his baseball-loving son, Matt Johnson.

Matt, 24, is serving as the general manager.

Rick Johnson learned of the Extra Innings franchise in 2005 and, after doing research, decided that owning the business was how he wanted to spend his retirement. Johnson said he enjoys following children's baseball and softball successes in the newspaper, and makes sure to congratulate the youths on their improvements when he sees them at the training facility.

"You really have the ability here to make a difference in kids' lives," said Johnson, 54. At the 20,000-square-foot facility on Business Parkway in Huyetts, children and adults receive baseball and softball training and hit balls in indoor batting cages. The facility offers a variety of baseball and softball instruction, and also has a store where players can buy equipment.

The work atmosphere is much different for Johnson, who spent more than 30 years at the police department, 20 of those performing and supervising drug and criminal investigations. "I want to be able to feel good and have fun doing something a lot different than police work," Johnson said. As a police officer, he often saw "the dark side of humanity." Now, Johnson said, he smiles a lot more.

He said his transition into franchisee was made easier because of all of the research and interaction among Extra Innings franchisees he had before he bought the business. Johnson stressed that it's important for anyone getting into a franchise to hire an attorney and an accountant. He has support on business dealings from the franchise headquarters in Massachusetts, a perk other franchisees share with their headquarters.

Owning a franchise.

Sharon Wyne said she, too, likes being able to call on the franchise headquarters with any problems. Johnson said his franchise has an online message board that franchisees use to communicate about their issues.

Larry and Krissy Lederer are embarking on their first franchise as franchisees with Express Personnel Services in Greencastle, Pa. He, too, said he likes the support system available through the business' corporate headquarters. Franchisees also have the benefit of paying into a marketing pool that helps distribute and produce advertising, Hill said.

Like Johnson, Larry Lederer said he did a lot of research before settling on Express Personnel Services. He said that the chain shares similar values with him, including a foundation in Christianity. "When you're a franchisee, you have some opportunities and leeway that you don't have when you have a boss," Wyne said.

On the other hand, most franchisees have to pay for their own health insurance and retirement. Wyne said that as franchisees, she and her husband also are responsible for doing the store's taxes.

Although franchisees pay for the rights to run the business, they must pay back a percentage of their gross sales to the franchiser under the terms of their contract, according to "You have a contract, and it's very much spelled out what's expected from you and what you can expect from them," Wyne said.

There also are restrictions.

For example, franchisees are restricted in the use of the franchise, such as what they can sell and how they can operate, according to Wyne and her husband moved to Hagerstown in 1968 to open the franchise and to raise a family. Their original store was in a former mom-and-pop grocery store. In December 1982, after that first store was closed, the couple opened another 7-Eleven store farther down the road.

Owning a franchise is a lot like owning any other type of business, Hill said. "It's going to require long hours, hard work and capital, but you're starting much farther down the path than an independent business owner," Hill said. "(The franchise) puts you in a marketing position of building that business where you would be well ahead." Johnson said, "Bottom line, if you're going to do a franchise, if you don't have the time to spend at your business, you're not going to be successful. You have to know what's going on."

At the outset, franchises generally cost more money to start up than private businesses, but Hill said that's because more money has been spent to develop the business than one that hasn't taken off yet.

"It's not for everyone," Hill said. "There are some people who would not feel comfortable taking orders from someone else."


Friday, July 27, 2007

Vote Yes for Kanawha County Rally...TONIGHT!!!
Please join us in the Plaza East parking lot\ (near Marty’s Tire Store) across from Appalachian Power Park Friday, July 27, 2007 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm.

FREE food and drinks provided. T-shirts and yard signs also will be available. Don’t forget early voting now through August 8, 2007.

Expetec of Charleston, WV to Hold Grand Opening

Expetec Technology Services, Inc., a full-service information technology (IT) franchise with locations in 15 states and Canada, recently announced the opening of a new location in Charleston, WV. Expetec franchisee, Tim Wilson is opening his doors at 803 Quarrier St. Suite 210 on August 9, 2007.

There will be several key events throughout the day to honor the grand opening of Expetec in Charleston. Corporate representatives Dale Bain and Todd Sayler will be visiting the Charleston location to assist in kicking off the grand opening. The first 50 visitors to the new location will receive an IT Survival Kit.

Expetec, derived from Experts in Technology, specializes in a wide array of computer products and services. This product line includes remote monitoring, managed services, network security, web building and design as well as network and computer sales and repair. The cutting edge products have been designed to assist small and medium sized businesses which may or may not have an internal IT department.

“We are excited to bring Expetec to this region and our fellow businesses to assist them in improving their technology. The benefits of being part of a large franchise with local owners will reflect to our clients through our service, knowledge and competitive pricing,” states Wilson. “We invite everyone to visit our new location and join in the activities. Our staff is here to serve you and be a part of your team.”

Expetec Technology Services was founded in 1992 and is the Nation’s only IT Franchisor to hold the American Association of Franchisees and Dealer’s (AAFD) prestigious seal of Fair Franchising.

The organization was acquired in 2005 by Jet Company, an Aberdeen venture capital group. The company can be found on the web at

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lofty goals
Developers test market for downtown dwellings
July 24, 2007

Sarah K. Winn
Charleston Gazette Staff writer

Leora Davalos’ front yard has a brick sidewalk, a trash can and parking meter. Taking in her groceries and walking her dogs attracts stares, she said.

“It’s a mysterious attraction for people,” Davalos said in front her Hale Street loft. “I tell them, this is my neighborhood. You are in my front yard.”

Nationally, downtown housing rates doubled between 1970 and 2000, according to a study of 44 cities done by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit research and policy organization.

Some local downtown dwellers and developers are trying to invest in an untested market in Charleston-downtown living for the young professional.

In a July survey of the Charleston Area Alliance’s young professionals group members, 77 percent of said they considered living downtown. More than 50 percent surveyed even went looking. However, 90 percent said they weren’t happy with the options.

In response, current downtown residents hosted a loft walk for about 50 young professionals last week.

Davalos, 27, and her husband Julio, a urologist, have lived at 225 Hale St., above Saad’s Oriental Rugs, for two years.

As the young professionals walked through, most just stared, semi-starstruck at the renovation. Some, like Andre Nabors, were taking notes.

“Everything I need is right downtown,” Nabors said as he walked out of the master bathroom, after snapping a picture of the bathtub with his cell phone. “And walking to work is a luxury of most big cities.”

Nabors, who works at the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, continued his picture-taking throughout the apartment.

“This kitchen is even better,” he said, as he walked up into the open living room. “I need to get a picture.”

For Julio Davalos, living in a downtown area was always the goal.

“I wanted to live in a city when I finished my residency,” he said. “Charleston, in my opinion, is the only urban-feeling place to live in West Virginia. ... We looked at other options, but downtown made a lot of sense.”

The couple is also renovating 227 Hale St., with plans for a bar on the first floor and two units upstairs. The upstairs units will be finished within three months, he said.

This mixed-use concept comes with some possible drawbacks, specifically residual noise, Davalos said. At first, Davalos plans to rent the two units above the bar to make sure the sound isn’t too much.

“To live above a bar, is, well, to live above a bar,” he said.

In the young professionals’ survey, 85 percent of responders said they were interested in owning, not renting, a downtown abode. If they were renting, 35 percent want to pay between $759 and $1,000 a month.

When it came to owning, the young professionals wanted more for less. Forty percent wanted a 1,501- to 2,500-square-foot apartment. But, 40 percent wanted to pay $100,000 to $150,000 for a loft.

That price point is low, Davalos said. He sees a $135- to $200-per-square-foot charge for finished space as more realistic.

One part of the survey surprised Davalos — the loft amenities young professionals were looking for. While on-site parking and the proximity to downtown locations (48 percent and 38 percent, respectively) ranked high, 68 percent of survey responders wanted individual laundry in each unit.
Davalos said the downtown housing market in Charleston is largely untested. There have been other plans for lofts, but the most successful downtown housing project, he said, is Paula Butterfield’s 816 on the Boulevard and some individual projects.

“I look at it as a smart risk — untested also means untapped,” Davalos said. “Being on the leading edge of a trend is always better than jumping on later.”

The Davaloses aren’t alone on Hale Street. Jeff Miller and Gina Puzzuoli have called 217 Hale St. their home since 2004.

“I didn’t want to do it,” Puzzuoli admitted. “We would drive downtown, and [Miller] would point and say, ‘We could get this building.’ For a year, he harped on it.”

Miller has a long history with design, construction and historic preservation. He is the managing director of projects and technical services at Vandalia Heritage Foundation in Fairmont, a non-profit organization that works to revive local economies through historic preservation. Vandalia has completed loft projects in Thomas and Wheeling.

For a 1,000- to 1,500-square-foot raw space, Miller estimates a person could renovate for $75 to $90 a square foot, including adding a kitchen and a bathroom. Renovating comparable commercial space costs between $55 and $75 per square foot.

That’s not much of a difference, considering what goes into residential construction and inevitable aftereffects, he said. With residential development comes a resurgence of retail, not the other way around, he said.

“The only thing that will bring retail back downtown are heads on a pillow,” Miller said, as he sat outside Taylor Books on Saturday. “No one has put a plan together that connects the damned dots.”

To make downtown living a reality, it takes cooperation from a variety of entities, from the city building authority, banks, the construction community and even utility companies.

When Miller and Puzzuoli first moved downtown, there were problems with the bank loan, homeowners insurance and utilities. The first year the couple lived on Hale Street, they paid a commercial rate for utilities on half their building.

However, those problems will be lessened once more people move downtown, Miller said.
“It’s a risk, but those that take the risk early are those that profit early,” he said. “The only salvation [for Charleston], or a major piece of the salvation, is downtown living.”

To contact staff writer Sarah K. Winn, call 348-5156.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Terra Insurance elects GAIPresident/CEO to Board

July 20, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-Gary M. DeJidas, P.E., President and CEO of GAI Consultants, Inc. (GAI), a national engineering firm with a local office in Charleston, has recently been elected tothe Terra Insurance Company (Terra) Board of Directors. Terra’s shareholder selected Mr. DeJidas to the Board during the recent annual shareholders meeting. An insured-owned, domestic risk retention group, Terra offers Liability Insurance, Environmental Liability Insurance, and Professional Liability Insurance.

Mr. DeJidas will serve on the seven-person board addressing policy decisions and other issues. GAI has been a Terra shareholder for over 35 years. As GAI's President and CEO, Mr. DeJidas directs the 500-plus employee, multidisciplinary, engineering and environmental consulting firm, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2008.
Office locations include Charleston, Fort Wayne, Ind., Philadelphia, Pa., Pittsburgh, Pa., Orlando, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., Cincinnati, Ohio, Florence, Ky., and Richmond, Va.

More West Virginians Have Jobs as Unemployment Edges Down

From The Governor’s Desk: A weekly column by Gov. Joe Manchin

Earlier this week, I received the Workforce West Virginia report for West Virginia’s June unemployment rate, which was 4.5 percent. I was extremely pleased that we had the lowest June rate on record and that total unemployment is down 5,500 for the first six months of 2007.

West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent, which is lower than the national average of 4.5 percent. What’s even more encouraging is that the record-low unemployment for the month of June is not unique. For each month so far this year, the state’s unemployment rate has been the lowest on record, which puts us on track to have the lowest-ever overall unemployment rate for an entire year. We’re working hard to reach that goal.

Since 2005, total employment in West Virginia has risen by more than 19,000 jobs with approximately $3.73 billion worth of business investments being made in our economy. That’s a lot of companies putting their faith and dollars in our state and our citizens. With all those statistics, it’s easy to get lost in the figures, but the bottom line is that we are creating jobs, and businesses are taking notice of the sweeping changes we’ve been able to accomplish with this Legislature.

Among those changes that are making a difference and helping to create jobs are lower taxes for consumers and businesses. At the beginning of this fiscal year, we lowered the sales tax another 1 percent to 4 percent, which is one-third less than it was just two years ago. We’ve also reduced the corporate net income and business franchise taxes and gathered a broad statewide coalition of experts to look at comprehensive tax modernization.

What we’ve accomplished the last couple years toward improving our economy and creating jobs is remarkable. We’ve privatized a struggling government-run workers’ compensation system, enacted insurance reform that’s made it much easier for businesses and consumers to obtain liability insurance, paid down billions in unfunded debt and dramatically improved our state’s bond rating. But we also recognize we have many challenges ahead.

The No. 1 priority of our administration is to create good-paying jobs with benefits for our hard-working West Virginians. We have a great way of life here in the Mountain State, including our beautiful scenery, safe and friendly hometowns, low cost of living and variety of recreational activities.

We’re listening to employers and working to share the message that West Virginia is a great place not just to raise a family, but to grow a business. We’ve been fortunate this year to put a greater percentage of West Virginians to work than ever before, and we’re not slowing down in our efforts to ensure our citizens continue to have those opportunities.

Friday, July 20, 2007

ReStore Offering Additional 10% Discount!

With summer renovations in full swing, the ReStore is seeing a ton of items come and go every day. As dedicated email subscribers, we at the ReStore greatly appreciate your support. That’s why we’ve decided to offer you an extra special discount!

Anyone who brings a copy of this message to the ReStore will receive an additional 10% discount from items featured in this month’s advertisement. Click here for the latest ad. Come by to receive your discount today!

Calling All Contractors, Businesses, Landlords and Retailers!

The ReStore is always looking for additional partners in its ongoing efforts. If you or someone you know regularly possesses and/or trashes extra building materials, please contact the ReStore at (304) 720-8733 or to find out how you can help the environment, and earn tax benefits through ReStore donations.

The ReStore is a building materials re-sale store. New and surplus materials are donated to Habitat for Humanity and the materials are sold at the ReStore. The proceeds help build Habitat for Humanity houses in Kanawha and Putnam Counties. Additionally, tons of materials that would be sent to the landfill are now able to find new homes, literally!

The ReStore is a way for people on tight budgets to repair and maintain their property and people from all walks of life shop at the ReStore. For more information on Habitat for Humanity and the ReStore, please visit

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Young Professionals Tour Downtown Lofts

Click here to read story and see video from WOWK TV 13.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

SBA and Trump University Launch Innovative Online Training Course for Entrepreneurs

The U.S. Small Business Administration and Trump University have teamed together to develop a new free online training course on How to Start a Business on a Shoestring Budget, designed to help entrepreneurs understand how to take their small business ideas to market despite limited outside resources.

The SBA and Trump University have combined the best that each organization offers, bringing together a vast array of resources, information and experts to guide students through the essentials of planning and executing a business idea by bootstrapping, a common method used to minimize the amount of outside debt and equity financing needed from banks and investors.

How to Start a Business on a Shoestring Budget is a self-paced course available through the SBA’s Small Business Training Network, a virtual campus of business courses, trainings, education resources, learning tools and information assistance at under the “Training” icon. It is a creative training experience and interactive assessment tool that features fictional entrepreneurs who are engaged in raising money for their small businesses, while the student entrepreneur provides advice on how to help evaluate readiness for starting a business. An added highlight is the availability of “Ask the experts” video clips, which are strategically featured throughout the course.

“We are pleased to work with an experienced leader in online education,” said SBA Administrator Steven Preston. “The cosponsorship with Trump University is an inventive partnership that provides the best in small business resources to students of entrepreneurship, while offering a unique opportunity to learn about one of the most challenging areas of starting a small business—business financing.”

The course helps to evaluate eight key areas of business start-up on a shoestring, including what it takes to make something out of nothing, market research for the budget minded, budget branding and what to do when you outgrow your bootstraps.

The SBA’s Small Business Training Network at offers a range of online business training and counseling tools to assist entrepreneurs with business start-up, from developing marketing strategies to effective employee management. It also provides valuable information for existing small business owners. The training network is an easy-to-use tool that provides 24-hour access to business courses via the Internet.

About the SBA:
The U.S. Small Business Administration is the nation’s largest financial backer of small businesses. The SBA’s programs and services help business owners start, run, and grow their businesses, and provide a range of financial, technical, and management assistance. The SBA also plays a major role in the government's disaster relief efforts by making low-interest recovery loans to both homeowners and businesses. America’s 25 million small businesses employ more than 50 percent of the private work force, generate more than half the nation’s gross domestic product, and are the principal source of new jobs in the U.S. economy.

About Trump University:
Trump University, an online educational institution, has been teaching its thriving community of members everything from real estate investing, marketing, entrepreneurship skills and business planning, to management, wealth creation, and many other subject matters that appeal to aspiring entrepreneurs and business professionals.

SBA’s participation in this cosponsorship does not constitute an express or implied endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs, services and cosponsored activities are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Jones pushes table gaming
Mayor cites jobs potential, says city can’t miss chance

By Rusty Marks
Staff writer

Like a television evangelist, Mayor Danny Jones took the stage in front of the Rotary Club of Charleston on Friday to preach words of salvation.

And those words are table games.

“There is good and bad gambling,” Charleston’s mayor told a room full of Rotary members at the University of Charleston.

Regulated, centralized table gaming like that proposed at Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming Center will bring jobs, economic development and tourists to Kanawha County, Jones said. However, video lottery machines in the dozens of gambling parlors that currently dot Charleston and neighboring towns provide no public benefit, he said.

“The neighborhood machines don’t give us anything,” Jones said. “I’d go so far as to call them predators.”

Unlike Tri-State Racetrack, where 65 percent of the patrons come from out of state, neighborhood gambling parlors prey on local residents, many of whom can’t really afford to gamble, the mayor said.

Between wisecracks, humorous asides and flamboyant references to local politicians and newsmakers, Jones made the point that local voters and state officials can’t afford to pass up table gaming.

Kanawha County voters will decide Aug. 11 whether to allow Tri-State to add casino-style games to the facility, which already offers dog racing and video slots. Racetrack owners have promised a $250 million upgrade to the facility that includes a hotel, convention center and entertainment venue. They say the expansion will create 1,000 full-time jobs and hundreds of construction jobs.

For an area that fights for 10, 30 or 150 jobs at a time, Jones said, 1,000 jobs is a major promise.

Proponents of table gaming in Kanawha County believe adding casino games at Tri-State will bring tourists from out of state. Officials for Yeager Airport believe table gaming will increase air traffic to and from the area. And Jones said people who come to visit the racetrack will stay at local hotels and shop at local businesses.

Those against table games argue they can lead to crime, violence, suicide and drug abuse.

A 2004 study by the U.S. Department of Justice that compared people arrested in Las Vegas — where casino gambling is legal — and Des Moines, Iowa, found a higher percentage of compulsive gamblers in Las Vegas. Those arrested in Las Vegas also were more likely to steal or sell drugs to support their gambling habits, and more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, the study suggests.

Jones said there are drawbacks to any industry. He believes, though, that the benefits of table gaming for local economic development outweigh the risks.

“It’s easy to be against something,” Jones told the crowd. “All you have to do is say no.

“If you have someplace else where the state can get this kind of money, I’d like to know what it is. If you know somewhere we can get 1,000 jobs, I’d like to know what it is.

“If you’ve got a quarter-billion investment in economic development, I need to know what it is. I’ll help you get it.”

Jones said 17,000 people a week already go to Tri-State Racetrack.

“If you vote no, there’s still going to be gambling out there,” he said. “There’s still going to be 17,000 people going there.”

He said state officials already rely on gambling for one-sixth of the state’s budget and that voters can’t afford to pass up table gaming.

“All you have to do is vote yes,” he said. “You don’t have to work there. You don’t have to go there.”

To contact staff writer Rusty Marks, call 348-1215.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Creating New Bloggers at the Charleston Area Alliance

Up until about 6 months ago, I, Matthew Ballard, maintained this blog as a way to disseminate information about the Alliance and about the principles of economic development in West Virginia and in our local region. As I became President, we are using the blog more now to communicate with our young professionals committee (now over 295 people) and to talk more about the Alliance globally.

About 5-6 months ago, I was able to help Drew Dunlap and Jama Jarrett of our staff to use the blog. They are now both contributing to the content. So welcome to the world of blogging Drew and Jama. It is always good to have a few more of us getting the word out about our wonderful region and state and the Alliance which is truly leading in economic and community development as well as our Chamber issues.

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Recipe Challenge Deadline Extended
Award Winning “Recipe Challenge” Returning to State Fair

The second annual West Virginia Recipe Challenge will be held on Saturday, August 18, at the State Fair of West Virginia. Entrants in the competition compete for over $10,000 in goods and services to help launch their food product as an actual business. Because of overwhelming public enthusiasm towards the Recipe Challenge, the deadline for entries has been extended. Potential contestants will now have until July 27 to enter their recipes into the Challenge.
This competition debuted last year as a chance for emerging entrepreneurs who have dreamed of taking their home-cooked product to the grocery store shelf. Thanks to the success of last year’s Recipe Challenge, the State Fair was recently awarded the Outstanding New or Unique Class of Competitive Exhibits Award at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions Convention in Las Vegas.
“We’re thrilled with the response to last year’s Recipe Challenge,” said Stacy Turner of West Virginia State University Extension, who initiated the idea for the contest. “Our winners are doing great now, and we’re looking forward to a bigger and better event this year.”
Response was tremendous for the event’s first year, with winner Darrell Vowell launching his own business, Cowboy Cook’n Company, after winning the competition’s new entrepreneur category with his barbeque sauce. A second category for existing entrepreneurs is part of the competition as well.

Prizes include recipe refinement, packaging design, label development, nutritional panel creation, technical assistance, production time in a commercial kitchen, product marketing, and more.

The West Virginia Recipe Challenge is a collaboration of West Virginia State University Extension, the State Fair of West Virginia, Mountain Bounty Kitchen, Opening Soon Inc., Tamarack, and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

Contestants must register for the 2007 competition by 4:30 PM on July 27. Registration forms, category definitions, and more information about the contest are available online at or by calling Stacy Turner at (304) 466-7113.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July Let's Learn Topic Announced

The Economic and Business Development Committee of the Charleston Area Alliance has implemented a summer series of meetings titled "Let's Listen" which will continue with our regularly scheduled meeting at 8:00 on Friday July 20 at the Alliance offices at 1116 Smith Street. We always adjourn by 9:15 AM.

Our speakers for the July meeting will be Bob McLusky from Jackson Kelly who will give the legal analysis and also representatives from the coal industry who will discuss the industry impact of the recent southern district federal court decisions in the case titled Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition v. United States Army Corps of Engineers (commonly called the "Chambers decision").

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

Our June meeting was an excellent analysis by Tom Lane from Bowles Rice McDavid Graff and Love and Scott Rotruck from Chesapeake Energy Corporation discussing recent litigation (the Tawney case) related to the oil and gas industry, and we expect our upcoming meeting on July 20 will be an enlightening business analysis concerning the coal industry segment of our local energy economy.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Wi-Fi'ed East End Means More Foot Traffic, Residents, Businesses for East End.

The East End Main Street announcement that an RFP is being issued for Wi-Fi service for the East End of Charleston is a testament to the progressive and innovative model of economic and community development that the Charleston Area Alliance is utilizing. It's no wonder that Charleston was recently named in a national magazine as the 8th best small metro for attracting new business.

So what does this mean? Well how about once the greenspace is complete near the Clay Center, putting your feet up there and being able to surf the web or check e-mail? What if you are at the Power Baseball Park and want to get a little work done while taking in a game? Live on the east end and like to go out on your porch or deck to work or surf the web? Done. All of these possibilities will be available once this project is complete.

The Charleston Area Alliance and its East End Main Street program are clearly providing a return on investment for its members. In short, the Alliance is building a better community and a more vibrant economy.

Picture: Matthew Ballard, President/CEO of the Charleston Area Alliance introduces the wi-fi topic to members of the press and public. Governor Manchin, Mayor Jones, and Councilman Marc Wientraub joined the Alliance and East End Main Street in making the announcement at Contemporary Galleries on Smith Street in downtown Charleston.

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East End Main Street Announces Plan for Technology Enhancement for the East End

Free Wi-Fi Service for East End neighborhood

Governor Joe Manchin and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, unveil the East End Main Street Wireless Internet logos that will be displayed in merchant windows as a result of the Wi-Fi project.

Charleston, W.Va. – Representatives from East End Main Street (EEMS) announced today their plans to provide the entire East End neighborhood with free Wi-Fi service for the next three years. Today, EEMS sent out their request for proposal (RFP) to vendors for submission of bids and plans for this project.

The implementation of this project would offer free wireless internet service to approximately 12,000 residents, more than 200 businesses, and visitors to the East End area. The coverage area will include the 35th Street Bridge to the east, Leon Sullivan Way to the west, the Kanawha Boulevard to the south and Piedmont Road to the north; totaling an area just short of one square mile. This is believed to be the largest planned, free Wi-Fi zone in the state of West Virginia.

East End Councilman Marc Weintraub says “Wi-Fi will be an amazing thing for our neighborhood. The residents and visitors will be able to use this service and more importantly, this will open new doors of possibility for our small businesses. Imagine how much easier it will be for our retailers to sell on-line or attract customers to our restaurants who may also want to work while they dine.”

“This project will benefit the state immensely,” said Governor Joe Manchin III. “Bringing Wi-Fi to the East End neighborhood creates more opportunities for businesses and residents. These progressive volunteers from East End Main Street are working hard on revitalizing the East End neighborhood, and this will be a great tool to further their work and the state’s technology plans. My pledge is for West Virginia to be open for business and to do that we need strong neighborhoods and accessible technology. This project provides both.”
EEMS has received a LEDA (Local Economic Development Assistance) Grant for this project from the West Virginia Development Office. Intent to bid must be made no later than the end of day on July 20, 2007, and proposals must be received by 1:00 p.m. EST on August 10, 2007. Selection notification will be made by 5:00 p.m. EST on August 24, 2007. Copies of the RFP and instructions can be found at

About East End Main Street:

East End Main Street is a volunteer driven organization hosted by the Charleston Area Alliance that is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the East End neighborhood. The organization believes that thriving businesses make vibrant neighborhoods. Their previous endeavors include the East End Public Art Mural, the Façade Assistance Grant Program, and on-going safety and small business workshops. For more information about East End Main Street, visit

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Thursday, July 05, 2007


The State Journal, SCORE and the SBDC today announced the July Business for Breakfast -Friday, July 27 at 7:30 AM at the Charleston Marriott Town Center’s Whitewater Grille. The event will end at 8:30 AM.

Tommie Brown of Enervest will discuss “Strategies of the Top 100 Businesses”.

The success of a business today often depends on developing and maintaining quality employees. Tommie will highlight some of the key ways the 100 “best to work for businesses” accomplish this.

There is no fee, although businesses are encouraged to purchase breakfast. Pre-registration would be appreciated but is optional. You can pre-register 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.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dow Chemical creates new business unit
Daily Mail business editor
Tuesday July 03, 2007

The Dow Chemical Co. announced it has completed the acquisition of Bayer's Wolff Walsrode cellulosics business for $725 million and created a new business unit that includes two product lines manufactured at Institute.

Dow said it has created the new specialty business unit, Dow Wolff Cellulosics, by combining its water soluble polymers business with Wolff.

The new unit includes Cellosize hydroxyethyl cellulose and Polyox water-soluble resins, which are manufactured at Institute, said Dow spokeswoman Rosemarie Rung. About 65 people support the new business unit at Institute, she said.

Dow said the new business unit will have annual revenues of more than $1 billion and employs 2,200 people worldwide.

Cellulosics is a high-growth area, Rung said. "The new business unit is not a new legal entity but a new business approach to accelerating growth," she said. "It's to focus and bring together the best of both worlds to drive growth in the area of cellulosics. Wolff brings advantages we didn't have to Dow, and Dow brings advantages to Wolff. We're confident this will be very successful and strengthen our position as an industry leader."

Dow announced in January that it would expand operations at Institute to increase production of Cellosize products and reduce energy costs. The Midland, Mich.-based company did not say how much the expansion would cost but Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the company would invest $20 million.

Dow has said it expects the project announced in January to be completed in 2009 and to save more than $3 million in energy costs annually.

Rung said the investment announced in January will better position the Institute operation to take advantage of growth.

Dow Chemical became a major employer in the Kanawha Valley when it bought Union Carbide Corp. in 2001. Dow has several operations in the Kanawha Valley, where it employs about 800 people.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Charleston Area Alliance proud of progress

Sarah K. Winn Charleston Gazette Staff writer

The Charleston Area Alliance is meeting its vision, albeit slowly, board chairman Jack Rossi told alliance members during the group’s annual meeting Thursday.

“We are making an impact and that change begins with a vision and continues with actions,” Rossi said. “No one would say that it would happen overnight.”

Financially, the alliance has faired well, with about $6.6 million in net assets in 2006, said treasurer Virginia L. King of Kanawha Stone. The figure includes $9.5 million in assets and $2.9 million in liabilities. Revenues for 2006 were about $2.9 million, coupled with $2.7 million in total expenses, King said.

The 2007 balanced budget of $2.2 million for both revenues and expenses has already been approved, she said.

The alliance worked diligently in 2006 on business and economic development, said Sally Smith of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love.

In 2006, the business and economic committee went on 70 retention visits to local businesses, she said. “Retention has been our top priority,” Smith said. “We should be bringing value to our businesses. It’s our goal and should continue to be.”

She pointed to the reinvestment in South Charleston’s stamping plant and the addition of 600 jobs by CASCI as recent successes.

The alliance hosted 25 new international and domestic companies and saw expansions in Aker Kvaerner, Spatial Integrate Systems, NGK Sparkplugs, Ashley Furniture and Leslie Equipment. Also, the alliance’s small-business incubator helped 104 companies, creating 257 jobs, she said.

In community development issues, Susie Salisbury, senior vice president of the alliance, said the committee was very active during the year.

In the past year, the committee has completed the EcoDwell house on Charleston’s East End, continued planning the $2 million Gateway Greenspace on the corner of Leon Sullivan Way and Washington Street East and helped the alliance’s Young Professionals group with their downtown housing goals.

In addition, a large part of the community development work of the alliance includes Leadership Kanawha Valley, which graduated 31 students in 2006, said Joseph Jones of Appalachian Power. The next class already has a waiting list of 25 to 30 students, he said.

Another arm of the alliance is its East End Main Street program, which helped bolster the business community of the Charleston neighborhood in 2006, said Mary Anne Crickard of Contemporary Galleries.

In 2006, the East End added eight new businesses and expanded six existing businesses, which created 14 full-time and 26 part-time jobs, thanks in part to East End Main Street, Crickard said.

James M. Sturgeon, who is part of the Chamber of Commerce arm of the alliance, said the chamber successfully convinced legislators to support metro government and to eliminate the business franchise tax. “We were heard, while others were ignored,” he said. “We are the voice of business and the voice of [alliance] members.”

Overall, 2006 was noteworthy, Rossi said. “Now, if we could just get carpet on the floor,” he said, half-joking, in reference to the alliance offices’ unfinished construction.

Old Colony going indie

By Sarah K. Winn Charleston Gazette Staff writer

A longtime Charleston-based real-estate firm is doing something many businesses aren’t — going independent after years of corporate affiliation.

Old Colony is new again,” said Robert Thomas, chief operating officer of Old Colony Holding Co. “All of us have grown accustomed to companies downsizing. We, at Old Colony, have chosen the opposite course.”

On Thursday, Old Colony Realtors, which was founded in Charleston in 1944, announced that the company is ending its 15-year relationship with GMAC’s real-estate franchise.

This move, effective July 1, will direct between $3.5 million and $5 million back into the local economy over the next 10 years, company officials said.

Old Colony’s relationship with GMAC has been a good one, with GMAC offering training for realtors, marketing services and relocation assistance for buyers, said Joe Miller, president of Old Colony.

However, with the GMAC contract up for renewal, the company decided to take a different direction and give those franchise dollars to local vendors, Miller said. The company has hired a marketing firm to create a new logo and advertising materials.

With the disaffiliation comes no increase in customers’ fees, no layoffs or downsizing, Thomas said. "We are very confident about going into the field of independency and will continue serving our customers,” said Old Colony Holding Co. President Bill Dawson, who has worked for Old Colony for 43 years. “It just makes much more sense to steer our own ship.”

Community leaders also joined the company on Thursday for the announcement.
“We are excited about the broad economic impacts,” said Charleston Area Alliance President Matt Ballard, “and Old Colony realizes that their project can be successful here in the Valley.”

St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway said the local focus of Old Colony will likely help St. Albans, which has become much of a “bedroom community” of Charleston. “This will get young families coming to our area,” he said. “Anytime we can help the realty industry, it is good for us.”

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he hopes for continued success of Old Colony for a personal reason. “I bought my house through Old Colony and, if I sell my house, I’m going to sell it through Old Colony,” he said.

While Old Colony is becoming an independent firm, Miller stressed that doesn’t mean the company is backtracking.

“Being identified specifically as a West Virginia company is important. That is who we are,” he said, “but we should not become too insulated. It is very important that we see a larger picture.”
Since its formation in 1944, Old Colony has grown to include 13 locations — 11 in West Virginia and two in Ohio — and has 225 sales associates. The company had $580 million in sales in 2006.