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, April 29, 2008

West Virginia earns “A” for technology in classroom

West Virginia was the only state to earn an overall grade of “A” in Education Week’s “Technology Counts 2008” report. The national annual report gauges the use of technology in teaching STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The grades for all 50 states and the District of Columbia

Monday, April 28, 2008

The below article about the University of Charleston's new business graduate school appeared in the most recent edition of The State Journal. In it, Dean Charles Ryan speaks about partnering with the Charleston Area Alliance to solidify an international exchange program for the school's students. The Alliance has developed a strong bond with Italy, so the partnership makes sense. This could be mutually beneficial for both business and education.

University of Charleston Grad Program Heads Downtown

By Ann Ali

CHARLESTON - While location might not be everything, it will be a big part of the University of Charleston's Graduate School of Business as it launches a master of business administration and leadership degree program from a satellite campus downtown.

The downtown site, on the second flour of the Triana Energy building, will place students in the middle of businesses, entertainment and government and bring a college-town feeling to the Capitol City.

"I don't believe people in Charleston have an appreciation for the depth of capital at UC," said Charles Ryan, dean of the Graduate School of Business. "When we unleash that in downtown Charleston, the dynamic is bound to change.

"At the end of the third year, we'll have people radiating out into the community; people will know these young people, and it will make UC have much more of a presence."

Three programs - the Master's of Business Administration and Leadership, an Executive MBA for those with a few years in the business community who need evening and week-end classes and an Executive Master's of Forensic Accounting - will fall under the umbrella of the Graduate School of Business, which Ryan said he hopes will have about 30 students each year for the next three years.

Ryan said the fast-track, problem-based degree programs would stress leadership, the global market and executive networking.

The curriculum for the MBAL program will include a "two-plus- three" option for all UC sophomores, no matter their concentration of study, and sophomores with one year of business education from any other college or university. Those students will be able to enter the program and earn the MBAs, after three years of graduate study.

The second option is open to all UC junior and senior business majors and students with three or four years of business education from other schools who would enter the second year of study of the graduate program.

Ryan said the problem-based curriculum has its roots in medical education, in which a problem is presented to a group of about five or six students. They share and organize ideas and knowledge, rank the learning issues and solve the problem.

The first-year curriculum is planned to include core business elements, including executive mentor ing. The second semester of the first year will require students to apply fundamentals, such as building and operating a company.

"Our goal is to have one mentor for each student," he said. "I've had quite a few volunteers, so I'm confident we can do that."

The second year of study is planned to include lessons on entrepreneurship and global business operations along with a requirement for community or board involvement.

"As these students learn, they will become a part of this process," Ryan said. "From the day a student gets in the door, he will be part of the network."

The curriculum also will include a summer semester abroad between the second and third years, and Ryan said the school is working on partnerships with West Virginia businesses that have international sales, the Charleston Area Alliance and the Italian Manufacturing Association.

"So if you're in Spain, you might have two Spanish students and two UC students in your cohort," Ryan said. "They would work together then radiate out to the businesses in the geographic area; they might even be shadowing."

Ryan stressed that the required internship experience would be meaningful for both the employer and student, with a workshop for participating companies.

The program also will include a director of student services to serve as a liaison for students, faculty and administration, so the graduate school functions as smoothly as the main campus. Ryan said that person would have a special focus for student athletes - a group that he said often is overlooked in graduate school recruitment.

He said the program's goal is to have a total enrollment of 90 by 2010.

Tuition will run about $23,500, with a $1,000 technology fee that will pay for a laptop for each student.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Generation Charleston Shows "Y We Volunteer"

The Generation Charleston Community Outreach Team would like to thank the volunteers who took time on April 19 to show Charleston "Y We Volunteer."

The project was a huge success.

What Generation Charleston achieved:

The Sojourner's Cooking/Serving group organized the food pantry, which was a feat in and of itself, and prepared a wonderful lunch of chili dogs, slaw and beans.

The Sojourner's painting group scrubbed and painted the dining room walls, perfectly executing the maroon color scheme. The Charleston Gazette and WOWK-TV visited the group during the work. Thanks to Rob and Brad for the lovely "work shot" and to Rossi and Brad for fielding the reporters' questions.

The Child Enrichment Center group primed and painted a large room and a transformed a rarely used bathroom from drab to fab. The director could not stop talking about the bathroom and the great job.

The Past n' Present group sorted and hung 50 bags of clothes. The store manager raved about the effort.

The Shanklin Center group painted two rooms and even had a little time to do some landscaping. The only regret the Shanklin Center director had was that she didn't buy enough supplies to keep her team hard at work ... painting.

Each of the sites was very appreciative of the work.

The Community Outreach Team will soon start planning the 2nd Quarter Service Project. If you would like to be involved in the planning of the next project, please join us at the next Team meeting May 13 in the Clay Center's Conference Room East.

Next Generation Marketing

Workshops are scheduled across the state for senior executives and marketing managers in mid- to large-size organizations. They are designed to help them understand the "new realities of marketing for the 21st century.

•April 30 – Martinsburg, Holiday Inn
•May 13 - Huntington, Pullman Plaza
•May 14 – Charleston, Summit Center
•May 21 – Wheeling, Wheeling Island Resort
•May 22 – Morgantown, Waterfront Place

By the end of the workshop, attendees will have a strong understanding of how to strengthen their strategies and tactics to generate greater return on investment from their marketing initiatives.

7:30am – 8:45am CXO Roundtable Breakfast (Invitation only)
10-15 C-level to Senior VP level executives
9:00am – 4:30pm Next Generation Marketing – Executive Workshop

Monday, April 21, 2008

Calling All First-Time Schedule C Filers

One of the biggest challenges faced by people starting out in business is understanding and meeting their tax compliance requirements. Tune in to the next IRS National Phone Forum entitled "Calling All First Time Schedule C Filers" scheduled for Wednesday, May 21 to find information, resources, products and services available to new business owners filing a Schedule C for the first time.

After all, filing your taxes should not be harder than starting your business.

The forum is free.

Learn about:
· Classifying workers as employees or independent contractors as determined by law, not the choice of the worker or business owner;
· Depositing federal withholding employment taxes, called trust fund taxes, according to the appropriate schedule;
· Making quarterly estimated-tax payments to cover your own income tax and social security self-employment tax liability;
· Keeping good records to protect your personal and financial investment and to make tax filing easier;
· Considering a tax professional to help you with Schedule C;
· Filing and paying your taxes electronically; and
· Avoiding abusive tax avoidance schemes such as the IRS’s 2008 “Dirty Dozen."

Earn Continued Professional Education credit:
• Enrolled agents receive one CPE credit for a minimum 50-minute participation
• Other tax professionals may receive credit if they qualify per their organization
• Register individually for the forum and use your assigned PIN to attend the event
• You must call in on a separate line so we can verify your attendance
• If you qualify, a certificate of completion will be e-mailed to you after the forum

A question and answer sesstion will follow, but due to the public nature of the forum, IRS officials will not be able to address specific client questions.

The forums are scheduled for 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. May 21. Resgister at You will receive a personal identification number to join the conference. If you have never registerd with AT&T, you will need to create a profile beforehand.

Register by May 18. The IRS will e-mail material for the class May 19.

The toll-free number to dial May 21 is (866) 216-6835. Dial in about five minutes early. The access codes are 825428 for 10 a.m., 340870 for 1 p.m. and 294751 for 4 p.m.

IRS Presents IVES Webinar

The IRS in conjunction with the Philadelphia District Small Business Administration has scheduled a May 7 webinar about the Internal Verification Express System (IVES).

Primarily mortgage lenders and others within the financial community use IVES to confirm the income of a borrower during the processing of a loan application. Banking and mortgage lenders, small business owners, industry organizations, credit unions, tax practitioners, accountants and other government agencies are invited to attend this free one-hour webinar.

Learn how to use this new automated service that provides a two-business day processing and delivery of return transcripts. It saves time and money for small businesses. Attendance is limited to the first 99 registrants. There will be CPE credit offered to enrolled agents for this event.

It runs from 10 to 11 a.m.

This webinar will use the ReadyTalk system, SBA’s multi-media training tool. This virtual presentation uses a telephone and computer. You will need Internet access and a telephone to participate. This is a free seminar. To register, please call or send an e-mail to with “May 7, 2008 IVES Webinar” in the subject line. Include your name, organization, agency or company name and phone number. Once you are registered, specific instructions on how to logon will be provided.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The April 17 Charleston Daily Mail included a feature about Jeri Adkins, senior vice president at the Charleston Area Alliance.

Woman keeps an eye on local prices

If you want to save money at the grocery store, Jeri Adkins has this recommendation: "Watch the sales circulars and stock up, especially on the items you use."

Adkins is the voice of experience. She collects Charleston area grocery prices as a regular part of her job.

If you want to keep tabs on consumer prices, national information is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's the federal agency that compiles the monthly Consumer Price Index. The bureau's index for March, released Wednesday, shows that prices have gone up 4 percent overall in the past year, with energy costs up 17 percent and food prices up 4.4 percent. The bureau also publishes indexes for regions.

But the federal government does not publish costs for specific communities. That's where Adkins and an army of price collectors from about 300 cities across the country step in. They collect data for the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which is produced by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The council was created in 1961 to promote excellence in community and economic research. It has published the ACCRA Cost of Living Index continuously since 1968.

The Consumer Price Index and the ACCRA Cost of Living Index are different. The price index measures inflation, which is the change in prices over time. The cost of living index measures differences in prices among areas at a single point in time. It provides no information about how rapidly prices are changing within an area.

But Adkins knows higher or lower prices when she sees them. That's because she collects prices three times a year for the cost of living index. She does this work as part of her job as a senior vice president at the Charleston Area Alliance.

The cost-of-living index is especially useful for workers who are transferring from one city to another and want to know if the cost of living in the city they are moving to is higher or lower.
Adkins must abide by a lot of rules so the prices she gathers can be accurately compared to prices in other communities.

For example, she and all other price gatherers were most recently required to check prices on April 10 and April 11. Also, they were required to gather prices for 26 specific grocery items. And they gathered the same information at five locations whenever possible so the averages they reported were accurate.

Adkins always gathers prices at the Wal-Mart at Southridge Centre; at Foodland, either on Spring Street or in Kanawha City; and at three Kroger stores. The data she collected last week will be published in May.

Adkins shops in each store for some generic items. For example, she looks for the price of a half-gallon of the lowest-priced whole milk. But many items are specific.

"For dishwashing powder it has to be Cascade, 75 ounces, and it has to be the powder, not liquid," she said.

Overall, the grocery prices gathered last week hadn't changed much from January's prices, Adkins said. The average price for all 26 items surveyed was $62.96 last week, up from $61.53 in January - a 2.3 percent increase.

However, the price for a few specific items jumped. For example, that half-gallon of whole milk went from $2.12 in January to $2.29 last week - an 8 percent increase in just three months.

Adkins said that she's gotten to know the Krogers and Foodlands in the Charleston area pretty well over the years.

"It used to take me probably two hours to gather prices in one grocery store," she said. "That's partly because of the specifications for each item. But now it probably takes me 30 minutes per store because I know all of the items."

Even so, Adkins sometimes has to backtrack because she missed an item. "That's the most frustrating thing, especially as you near the end of the day and you're tired," she said. "It tends to be something in the frozen food aisle. You learn to take a jacket."

In addition to checking grocery prices, Adkins regularly checks clothing prices at department stores like Macy's, Elder-Beerman and Kohl's, and drug prices at Rite Aid and K-mart.
While Adkins is in the stores, two other Alliance employees check prices on products and services ranging from a dentist office visit ("ADA Procedure 01110; teeth cleaning for established adult patient, no exam") to gasoline ("1 gallon unleaded regular, including all taxes; cash price at self-service pump; use only national brands.")

Adkins noted that the average price of gasoline in Charleston went from $3.23 in January to $3.45 last week.

Adkins has been pricing items regularly for eight years. She said it has made her very aware of prices but added, "I actually think most people are. A large percentage of what people spend is on groceries as well as the other items we price. I was always a good shopper but, yes, I think I do tend to shop smarter now.

"I'm certainly watching for sale items and seasonal items," she said. "T-bone steak was on sale last week for $6.99 a pound as opposed to $8.99 a pound in January. That's a significant savings.
"At Kroger, I stock up on Diet Coke when they have four 12-packs for $10. That's so much better than buying one out of a machine for $1.50."

It takes Adkins and her associates a total of about 25 hours every three months to collect and report all of the information required. She used to have to write everything and figure the averages. Now she just enters the data online and the Council for Community and Economic Research checks for accuracy, computes averages and compiles the reports.

The ACCRA cost of living index information for Charleston and other cities is available from the Charleston Area Alliance by contacting Adkins at 340-4284, Extension 202.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

WV Center for Nursing seeks Associate Director Recruitment & Retention

An EO/AA Employer
Position Announcement

Position: Associate Director Recruitment and Retention
West Virginia Center for Nursing

Description of Work: The Associate Director for Recruitment and Retention, with the Executive Director, plans and implements the Center’s comprehensive statewide and evidence-driven workforce program. The Associate Director reports to the Executive Director and supervises staff assisting with projects related to recruitment and retention.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Administration: Identifies areas of need in nursing recruitment and retention, based upon the Center’s supply and demand data. Assists with the development and implementation of a strategic statewide plan for nursing by contributing knowledge about the issues and priorities related to workforce development. Prepares proposals to obtain outside funding for workforce development activities. Plans, implements, and administers recruitment and retention programs, and provides oversight for recruitment and retention initiatives including the ability to manage data and measure outcomes of these initiatives.

Communications: Effective verbal, written and electronic communication with board members, advisory committee members, and stakeholders. Disseminates workforce development strategies generated by the center, other state entities, and national sources to nurses and stakeholders. Represents the Center at selected meetings, conferences, and committees. Prepares written reports and manuscripts for publication related to workforce development activities.

Supervision: Assists the Executive Director with administrative responsibilities.
Evaluation: Plans and implements the evaluation of recruitment and retention and other center projects.

Qualifications: Master’s degree in nursing with a diverse background in nursing education and practice, health policy, public relations, and human resource management. Must be eligible for or possess a WV registered nurse license. Earned Doctorate degree preferred along with expertise with grant writing submission, implementation, and management; experience in the non-profit/for profit environment and experience in working with volunteer boards.

Salary: Base $60,000. Salary will be commensurate with education and experience

Apply to: Margaret V. Buttrick, HRA
WV Higher Education Policy Commission
1018 Kanawha Blvd. East, Suite 700
Charleston, WV 25301-2800

Monday, April 14, 2008

Brad Smith Comes Home for the 2008 Annual Celebration

The 2008 Annual Celebration is only a few weeks away, and the excitement over another great keynote speaker is growing.

Brad Smith is a success story coming out of West Virginia. The Kenova native is president and CEO of Intuit, Inc., a company that has heavily influenced and shaped how people file taxes and run businesses in the U.S.

Intuit manufactures TurboTax and QuickBooks, along with other notable software, and these programs have made accounting and tax filing easier, faster and less stressful (while dramatically cutting paper needs).

Smith is one more example of a West Virginian doing good work. John Chambers and Jennifer Garner are a couple of other names that come to mind.

Smith’s return to West Virginia May 6 fits well with Gov. Joe Manchin’s “Come Home to West Virginia” concept, discussed during this year’s State of the State Address. He wants former West Virginians to return to work in the state or expand their businesses into the state.

That West Virginians are talented is evident. How can that talent improve West Virginia and make it more attractive? Do some West Virginians have to leave their home to find success, and if so, how do we change the cycle?

Hopefully, Smith can provide some insight during his speech.

The Annual Celebration’s grand reception begins at 6 p.m. May 6 at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences. The main program follows at 7 p.m. Visit or call (304) 340-4253 to RSVP by April 30.

Join us to welcome home a proud West Virginian who is helping fight the negative clichés and stereotypes about the Mountain State.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Charleston Area Alliance Remains Committed
to Advancing Transportation Improvements

The Charleston Area Alliance Executive Committee today reaffirmed its commitment to improving the region’s transportation system, despite the suspension of a project to launch an ultra low-cost airline at Yeager Airport. The Alliance had recently invested $200,000 toward the $3 million seed capital requirement for “Jet America,” a new airline proposed by South Charleston native John Weikle.

Weikle terminated the project over the weekend in response to recent bankruptcy announcements by other low-cost airlines, including Skybus, which he founded.

“All investors, including the Alliance, are expected to receive refund checks in the very near future,” said Alliance President/CEO Matt Ballard. “Mr. Weikle has notified all investors that he will return their investments this week.”

External forces and economic uncertainties rendered this project unfeasible at this time, Ballard noted. “Naturally, we are disappointed that it has been shelved for now. Jet America, which had a very strong business model, had the potential to be one of the most significant economic development projects in recent history,” he said.

Despite this setback, the Alliance remains firmly committed to advancing initiatives to improve the region’s transportation system. Limited direct service to major destinations from Yeager Airport and high airfares are a major hurdle to economic development in our area, Ballard said.

“Our plan is to move on to the next economic development and transportation project. We won’t let up in our efforts to make our area more accessible to relocating businesses and tourists,” Ballard said.

In coming months, the Alliance plans to work with the City of Charleston, the Kanawha County Commission, Yeager Airport, and the local convention and visitors bureaus to determine possible next steps.

The Alliance stands by its decision to support Jet America, Ballard said. “Given the tremendous upside potential of the project and the strength of its business model, we believed – and still do – that it was well worth pursuing," he said.

“It has been a pleasure to work with John Weikle over the past year on this innovative project,” Ballard said. “John brought a lifetime of experience in the airline industry to an effort that could have had tremendous benefits for his home state. We wish him well as he considers other new opportunities,” he said.

“Economic development is often a two-steps-forward, one-step back process, and setbacks frequently outnumber successes,” Ballard added. “However, by continuing to push forward, we will make progress in building a more vibrant community and prosperous economy.”

Monday, April 07, 2008

The March 27 Charleston Daily Mail piece below includes a mention of Generation Charleston and the role it could play in the University of Charleston's new business school.

UC Grad School Work Gets Down to Business

by George Hohmann
Daily Mail Business Editor

Charles Ryan was named dean of the school in November. He said that over the last several months the school has established a mission, brand and curriculum; drawn up a floor plan for its campus on the second floor of the former Boll Furniture building; is recruiting students for its inaugural class; and is recruiting faculty and staff.

The school's mission is "Preparing and Enabling Great Leaders" through entrepreneurial leadership, international commerce and communications. The brand is fast-track, problem-based learning that leads to a Master of Business Administration and Leadership degree and creates a deep pool of career opportunities.

Ryan said problem-based learning, which is rooted in medical education, aligns teaching with real-world problems and solutions. He said students will work in small cohort groups to seek information and propose solutions to business problems.

"We'll try to assign students real-time issues and projects," Ryan said. "Some business problems will be real. We want to offer problem-based learning that's almost as real as the actual world."
Ryan is recruiting local executives who want to be mentors and provide students with advice and guidance.

Enhancing the mentoring is the fact the school will be in the former Boll Furniture building. Triana Energy, headed by Henry Harmon, is remodeling the structure. He has donated the second floor to the school. Triana and related companies will have offices on other floors.

Ryan is optimistic there will be lots of interaction among students and Triana's executives. "The students will be rubbing elbows with serial entrepreneurs - people who are trying to create businesses and wealth in a very distinct financial center," he said.

Also, Ryan is working with Generation Charleston, the Charleston Alliance's young professionals group. "We want Generation Charleston participants in our school as often as possible, interacting with our students," he said.

One feature of the graduate program will be a six-week summer semester abroad. This component will take place between the second and third year of studies. Ryan said students will most likely go to Italy, Germany, Sweden or Japan.

Another feature will be a requirement that students serve on a nonprofit community organization's board of directors during the second and third year of studies. "This is important because it's a real-world situation," Ryan said. "Every business is involved in its community to give back, network and learn from others who also serve."

The third year of the program will feature several capstone activities, including production of a thesis.

Ryan said 30 students will be recruited annually for the next three years, with a goal of reaching a total enrollment of 90 in 2010.

The program is open to all sophomores at the University of Charleston at the end of their sophomore year and to sophomores from any other college or university who have at least one year of business education. There also will be a program for juniors, seniors and people who have just received an undergraduate degree and have at least three years of business education.

Students with little business background who enroll at the end of their sophomore year can graduate in three years; individuals with a business background who have just received an undergraduate degree can graduate in two years.

Annual tuition is $23,500 and there is a $1,000 annual technology fee. The tuition for the summer semester abroad is $3,800. Ryan said some grants and loans are available.
In addition to recruiting students, the school is advertising for two faculty members who have doctorates, entrepreneurial skills, and experience in problem-based learning and international commerce.

Ryan also expects to recruit several adjunct professors and expects to receive help from the university's business faculty. Robert Bliss, chairman of the Jones Division of Business, will have an office at the downtown campus and on the university's main campus.

In addition to the Master of Business Administration and Leadership program, the downtown campus will host the university's executive Master of Business Administration Program and a forensic accounting program, Ryan said.

The forensic accounting program is currently a certificate program. It will evolve into an Executive Master of Forensic Accounting program, he said.
For more information about the Graduate School of Business, visit the program's Web site at

Friday, April 04, 2008

Charleston Remains One of the Least Expensive Cities for Business

That's according to a national survey from the accounting company KPMG LLP, which reported the costs of operating in the area are 4.7 percent below the national average.
When KPMG last conducted the survey two years ago, Charleston costs came in 5.3 percent below the national average.
The researchers analyzed cost factors including labor, real estate, utilities, transportation and income taxes. They also weighed "non cost" factors such as labor availability, economic conditions, infrastructure, the regulatory environment, cost of living and quality of life.
Charleston features low transportation, electricity and natural gas costs, as well as the city's tax rate and lease costs, said Hartley Powell, head of KPMG's Strategic Relocation and Expansion Services practice, which advises businesses on where to locate.
The city also still ranks among the country's least expensive for plants and offices, according to a national survey of business expenses.
Charleston costs were most competitive for businesses in the research and development and back-office/call center sectors, according to the study.
"Your labor costs are very reasonable," Powell said. "But they're a key driver, they're one of those very important recurring costs, and if they were lower, you'd be more competitive."
Charleston ranked third least expensive when grouped among KPMG's Northeast region.