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, April 30, 2009

Need help getting a job?

Don't miss the programs scheduled at Kanawha County Public Libraries (KCPL)
this April through August

Throughout the spring and summer KCPL will be hosting a series of programs geared toward helping you land a job during the current economic downturn.

Creating a Resume

Main Library · 304-343-4646
Wednesday, April 29, 9 a.m. - noon
Thursday, April 30, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.Thursday, July 23, 2 - 4 p.m.
Thursday, July 30, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Dunbar Branch Library · 304-766-7161
Friday, May 8, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Friday, May 8, 1 - 3 p.m.

One of the most crucial tools for a job search is a professional looking resume. Create and format your own resume using Microsoft Word for Windows. Participants should be able to type and operate a mouse with relative ease. Bring a list of your previous employers, former job titles, dates of employment and educational history (names of schools and dates of attendance). This class does not include resume coaching or critiques of existing resumes – it is strictly for the creation of new resumes. You will leave with an electronic version of your resume, ready for printing. Main Library sessions are limited to eight; Dunbar Library sessions are limited to five. Registration required.

Marketing Yourself in the New Economy

Main Library · 304-343-4646, John V. Ray Room
Monday, May 4, noon

When you are looking for a new job, knowing how to market yourself to prospective employers is essential. Jane Smith of Career Consulting Services will help you identify the key areas on which to focus. They include identifying your skills and goals, how to network and more. Smith has more than thirty years experience helping people make career changes, whether by choice or necessity. Marketing yourself is an essential skill to acquire to make those changes. Let her point you in the right direction. Registration required.

Job Interviewing Basics

Cross Lanes Branch Library · 304-776-5999
Thursday, May 14, 6:30 p.m.Riverside Public Library · 304-949-2400
Monday, May 11, 6 p.m.Sissonville Branch Library · 304-984-2244
Thursday, May 7, 6 p.m.

Learn how to put your best foot forward when interviewing for a job. This program is designed for those who are new to the job market or are hoping to re-enter the job market. Stan Wilson of Workforce West Virginia will help you prepare for your interview by giving you tips on answering interview questions, the do’s and don’ts of proper interviewing etiquette, and important steps to take after the interview that are often neglected by job applicants.

Polish Your Resume with Expert Help

Main Library · 304-343-4646, Technology Center
Tuesday, May 12, 2 - 4 p.m.

In today’s competitive job market, your resume can make the difference between getting your foot in the door for that all-important interview or being overlooked. Bring your resume to the library and let a professional help you fine tune yours. Assistance will be provided by Ron Huiatt, who has managed public and private mental health, education, arts and social service programs for more than 30 years. As a professional fund-raiser during most of that time, he has led initiatives which have raised more than $135 million for organizations from Ohio to South Carolina, including the Clay Center and Mountain State University in West Virginia. Call the Reference Department to make an appointment.

Jump-Start Your Job Search

Main Library · 304-343-4646, John V. Ray Room
Saturday, August 1, 10 a.m. – noon

If you’re looking for a job, the library is here to help. Sign up for this workshop presented by a representative of the Workforce Investment Board of Kanawha County. You’ll learn important tips about resume preparation and job skills.
Registration required.
For more information, please call Kanawha County Public Libraries 304.343.4646 or visit their website at

Access to Capital in the Age of Toxic Assets

CEO Roundtable Luncheon
Wednesday, May 6
Noon - 1 p.m.
Charleston Area Alliance

Please join us for our next CEO Roundtable as we discuss "Access to Capital in the Age of Toxic Assets." This roundtable, led by Skip Hageboeck and John DeRito of City National Bank, will address the banking industry in light of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), the economy and, most importantly, what business owners, CEOs and presidents can do to position their firm to access capital in today's uncertain times. Cost is $10 for current Alliance members and $20 for future Alliance members. Seating is limited, reserve your seat today!

Skip Hageboeck has served as president & CEO of City National Bank for the last four years. Prior to that, he was City's Chief Financial Officer. City is the largest bank headquartered in the Charleston MSA and the only publicly traded company based in the City of Charleston. Skip holds a Ph.D. in economics from Indiana University and a B.S. from Butler University in Indianapolis. City is now recognized as one of the most profitable community banks in the U.S. and is the largest bank based on branches in the Charleston MSA, the Huntington/Ashland MSA, the Beckley MSA, Greenbrier County and Mason County with significant operations in a number of other parts of West Virginia and Kentucky.

John DeRito has served as executive vice president and director of commercial lending for City National Bank for the past five years. Prior to that, he was the regional credit officer for BB&T in Charleston and was the Senior Vice President and Credit Officer for One Valley Bank, which was purchased by BB&T in 2000. John is a CPA and is a magna cum laude graduate of Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston) and also is a graduate of the American Bankers Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking, held at the University of Delaware. John has taught various financial analysis and cash flow analysis courses for the American Bankers Association, the West Virginia Society of CPAs, the West Virginia Bankers Association and is a member of the Board of Regents of the RMA Carolinas-Virginias Commercial Lending School held annually at East Carolina University. Prior to his career in banking, John was the controller of coal operations for Carbon Industries, an ITT subsidiary located in Charleston. He has served, and is currently a board member and finance chairman for a number of non-profit organizations in the Charleston area.

To register for this event please visit our website at or contact Lesley Hager at

TechKnowledge Classes Still Available

The Charleston Area Alliance and West Virginia State Community and Technical College are teaming up to offer TechKnowledge, a course designed to teach employees how to get the most out of Microsoft programs.

A class focusing on Microsoft Word kicked off the series April 24. Intermediate-level classes covering Excel, Access and Powerpoint are scheduled for May 8, May 22 and June 5, respectively. They run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All classes take place at the West Virginia State University Development Center, 1506 Kanawha Blvd. West. The facility is about two blocks from the Patrick Street Bridge and right beside the David Saul used car lot. Parking is available.

TechKnowledge is part of "Skills for the 21st Century," which launched last year. The goal is helping area residents gain the skills that will help them succeed in today’s competitive environment.

The per-class fee is $20 for members and $30 for future members.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Small Business Loans for Business Owners & Entrepreneurs Workshop

West Virginia State Community and Technical College
May 12, 2009 9:00 – 11:00 am
Room 112 Cole Complex
$25 per person (WVSCTC/WVSU Students free with college ID)

The workshop will cover the many options out there for entrepreneurs to finance their business venture, everything from the Small Business Administration to local community banks to large commercial financial institutions. Phillip A Bright, a previous Small Business Administration Financial Award winner and Emma Wilson, Branch Manager of the Charleston Branch of the Small Business Administration have the expertise to guide participants through the process of obtaining financing for their new or existing business venture. Come to campus and learn about the ins and outs of what banks are looking for when considering a small business loan. Mr. Bright is retired from banking and is currently the Director of Alumni Relations at West Virginia State University and conducts business consulting and refers small business loans to local banks.

This is the second workshop in our Economic Recovery Therapy for small business owners and future entrepreneurs. It will be followed by Marketing Strategies on May 28th and the Entrepreneurs Round Table discussion on June 9th. “The key word moving forward is entrepreneurship,” says Chad Moutray, Chief Economist and Director of Economic Research at the Office of Advocacy for the U.S. Small Business Administration in a recent article in Community College Entrepreneurship. Job growth is going to come from new ventures and community colleges can play a key role in educating small business owners and entrepreneurs on topics such as, financial management, venture capital, and marketing.

Contact Kim Sovine at WVSCTC if you are interested.

If you are interested and would like more information, call (304) 766-5248 and speak to Kim Sovine, Program Manager at WV State Community & Technical College.

Register online at You may also call 304-766-5113 or e-mail to register. Members of Charleston Area Alliance, Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, and South Charleston Chamber of Commerce receive a five percent discount. For information on other programs offered by the West Virginia State Community and Technical College, visit our web site at

Great Days in the Neighborhood
A Message from CEO/President Matt Ballard
& Chairman Jack Rossi

More than 400 people chose to spend the morning of April 11, a Saturday, exploring the East End’s Warehouse District. Nine businesses there were offering deals, sales and activities during Warehouse Warm Up, an East End Main Street event that celebrated the Warehouse District and the start of another West Virginia Power baseball season. The Capitol Market was full of children participating in bubble making and art activities provided by the Clay Center. Appalachian Power Park opened its gates and welcomed the public in to enjoy the Fun Zone.

To think: Not long ago, the Warehouse District was dormant and decrepit.

When we talk about building a more vibrant community, we’re referring in large part to the work of EEMS.

We applaud our program director Ric Cavender and the dedicated group of volunteers who work continuously to improve the East End, brightening the area’s atmosphere, shining a spotlight on its creative class and adding to the Kanawha Valley’s overall prosperity.

Warehouse Warm Up, which will be an annual event, is just one cobblestone of Main Street.
More and more residents of and visitors to the East End are enjoying the free East End Wireless system.

EEMS is working to make Charleston a little more green with the growing popularity of its Eco East End initiative. Last year, for example, volunteers passed out energy-efficient light bulbs during a Power game and partnered with six different environmental groups and agencies across the city and state to further educate Charleston on how easy it can be to be green.

The LemonAID project, meanwhile, targets homes slated for demolition and sells valuable items in the house – such as fixtures and doors – at very reasonable prices. It illustrates the virtues of historic preservation and is an effective version of reuse and recycling.

The program also works to help East End businesses grow and prosper. For instance, EEMS is partnering with the University of Charleston Executive MBA program to provide all East End businesses a full professional business plan assessment at no cost to the businesses. Students choose area businesses and perform thorough assessments from top to bottom. They prepare reports that include suggestions on how to improve efficiency and better control their budgets. EEMS plans to provide the program a list of businesses willing to participate.

EEMS works to make the community feel more like, well, a community. Its annual Garden Showcase (June 13-28) and Yard Sale (May 9) are just a few ways the program brings people together. And the upcoming and unprecedented StreetWorks project will turn Washington Street into an art gallery during FestivALL and beyond.

The façade grant program of the Alliance and EEMS has improved the aesthetics of the East End traveling from the Capital street toward the heart of downtown. We said we would do it, and we executed that plan.

Most importantly, EEMS asks East End residents to invest in their community. When people care about their neighborhood, that neighborhood thrives. We’re proud to be a part of this thriving community. The best is yet to come.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Generation Charleston to Celebrate Gateway Greenspace
with Block Party

Generation Charleston, the emerging leaders group of the Charleston Area Alliance, is hosting a First Friday Block Party from 5 to 7 p.m. May 8 to celebrate the group’s support of Gateway Greenspace.

The event, originally slated for May 1, had to be rescheduled due to weather.

Gateway Greenspace, to be located on a one-acre tract at the corner of Washington Street East and Leon Sullivan Way near the Clay Center, is the group’s year-long community outreach project. Generation Charleston will work to raise money for the project and volunteer for some of the physical labor involved in developing the site.

Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Join Us for the Business Event of the Year

The Charleston Area Alliance and title sponsor Jackson Kelly are presenting the 2009 Annual Celebration June 3 at the Clay Center.

West Virginia's own Ray Lane, managing partner of one of the country’s most successful venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and former president of Oracle Corp., will be the featured speaker. Tickets are $150 for members and $200 for future members. The prices increase to $200 and $250 on May 16, the paid reservation deadline. Tickets are limited.

Click here to register.

More than 800 leaders from around the region will gather for this uplifting tribute to our community and the progress that has been achieved in the past year.

From helping Oracle become the second-largest software company in the world to capitalizing on the opportunities presented by the “the ‘new’ new economy,” Ray Lane has been at the epicenter of growth and innovation throughout his career. Kleiner Perkins was an early investor in Google and Netscape and has a strong focus on sustainable growth, including investments in firms that focus on coal to gas conversion, enhanced gas recovery from fossilized hydrocarbons to concentrating solar energy.

Lane is a graduate of West Virginia University and was recently named to the WVU Board of Governors. We look forward to hearing his perspectives on opportunity and how his Mountain State roots have influenced his success.

The gala celebration will also include presentation of the “Expect the Best” awards, which honor businesses and organizations that promote quality of life and excellence in the workplace and community.

The Annual Celebration, our largest fundraiser of the year, is your opportunity to share in the pride for our community and sustain our vital work in creating jobs, attracting investments, enhancing our community and developing the talent and resources to sustain success today and tomorrow.

For more information regarding sponsorships, contact JoEllen Zacks at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sit Back and Relax at Business After Hours

Take a load off 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23 at Well Home Furnishings for Business After Hours. The showroom will make this event feel like home.

Wells and Star Federal Credit Union are presenting the event. Wells is located just off Corridor G.

Business After Hours is an excellent networking opportunity. Enjoy food, drinks, entertainment and a great time.

Admission to Business After Hours is $10 for Alliance members and $20 for future members. Click here to register. Prices increase to $15 and $25 at the door.

To expedite your registration, you may pay online or contact Deb Coffman for more information. We are unable to invoice for groups under 10 or issue refunds for cancellations received less than 48 hours prior to the event.

Verizon now hiring full-time Consultants, Charleston WV

Customer Sales and Services Representatives will work in a call center handling requests from existing or new customers for installation, disconnection, or changes of telephone systems and services. This position involves sitting at a computer workstation and using a telephone headset while processing continuous incoming calls. Must have excellent customer contact skills, meet or exceed sales or exceed sales objectives through identification of customer needs and recommendation of telephone product and services. This is a sales-intensive position. The successful applicant will possess customer service, sales and keyboarding skills. Mandatory job performance results must be met, including those objectives set for sales, call-handling times, and customer courtesy.

These are Regular Full-Time positions which offer very attractive and generous benefits. The pay ranges for these positions are $469.00 to $1,037.00 per week. Wage credit may be given based on recent work experience, education, and training. All applicants must qualify on pre-employment testing, medical and background checks.

To apply now, please visit our website at

Position availability is limited so please apply today.


Verizon is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer supporting workforce diversity. M/F/D/V.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The story below aired Sunday on WSAZ-TV.

Housing Results In: Good News for Charleston

The results are in, and it turns out there are quite a few people ready to make the move to downtown Charleston.

The city, Generation Charleston and the Charleston Area Alliance conducted the survey to see if housing could be developed for students, young professionals and others interested in living in downtown Charleston.

Serving as an intern for the city, Jonathan White headed up the survey project. It’s also part of his MBA program at the University of Charleston. White says the results are promising.

“According to the survey there looks like there are people that are interested. I think it possibly could happen.”

The online survey was open for a week and 168 interested renters and prospective property owners were polled. Only 12 of them said they were not at all interested in moving to the downtown area.

“On the renting side, there are 44 individuals that we know are willing to move downtown in a period of 6 to 18 months. Owning there are 55,” White said.

Questions on the survey included how much they pay for rent now, how big of a place they’d be looking for and how much they’d be willing to pay.

When it comes to rent, most people were willing to pay $650 or less for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath space. For potential owners, they’d pay up to $150,000.

One question that got a lot of attention was about parking. Some understood that parking is an issue in cities while others said they’d be happy as long as they had access to a secure parking garage. There were 61 people who said they would not live somewhere that did not have on site parking.

Rod Blackstone, Deputy Mayor of Charleston, says the survey results are ones the city can defiantly work with.

“Now, we've got to see if we can connect the potential market with the developers who've got to roll the dice in this economy to say yeah we're going to try to make this happen here,” Blackstone said. “It's not necessarily definite, but we’ve got some good information to move forward.”

The city has already been looking at properties that could potentially be developed.

White will present his findings to the city council’s finance committee on Monday.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Miners' Celebration

Sponsored by the Mine Safety Technology Consortium
Beckley-Raleigh C ounty Convention Center
July 23-24, 2009

The Mine Safety Technology Consortium is presenting a Miner's Celebration event in association with Marshall University's Center for Environmental, Geotechnical, and Applied Sciences (CEGAS); the Community and Technical College at WVU Tech; the National Coal Heritage Area; the Women's Business and Training Center; and the Workforce WV office of Beckley.

The event will offer opportunities for educational training as well as a job fair for individuals who are interested in a profession in the mining field. The event will focus on the history of the mining industry, provide a forum to share resources and information to aid in the development of a new generation miner, and promote the innovations of mining in the 21st century.

Please join in promoting your company and its success as the past, present and future of the coal industry is celebrated.

Please contact Dennis Jarvis for more information at

The article below appeared April 16 in the Charleston Daily Mail

Volunteer Group Connects Emerging Leaders

by Cara Bailey
Daily Mail staff

For a young professional in Charleston looking to build connections in the community and perhaps make a friend or two, Generation Charleston has 600 ways to help.

Generation Charleston, the group formed in 2006 to help young professionals network and give back to the city, now has more than 600 members, and plenty of room for more.

"This is a wonderful group of emerging leaders who genuinely care about Charleston and have taken an active role in improving the city and state," Generation Charleston Co-chair Emily Bennington said. "The group is really working hard to bring young professionals back to Charleston. Not only that, but giving them cause to stay."

Bennington, the director of marketing and development for Dixon Hughes PLLC, has been active in the group since its inception and is currently working as co-chair with Kate McCoy.

One stigma the group is trying hard to break is that it's necessary for young people to leave the state to succeed. Bennington said Generation Charleston is working to change the perception that there are "no opportunities for young professionals in the region."

The group now functions as a vehicle to help young professionals get directly involved in different areas of the city.

"Generation Charleston is the voice of young professionals in the Kanawha Valley," McCoy said. "The goal is to make it a better place to work and live ultimately."

Generation Charleston has six teams, focusing on communication, community outreach, housing, membership, professional development and special events, which allow everyone to engage in different activities.

One of the largest teams is the community outreach branch, which provides community service.
The group does four projects a year. The most recent was a Kanawha River cleanup that involved 60 volunteers picking up trash along the riverbank.

The group also did a fundraiser at Vandalia Grille that raised $2,500 for the Childhood Language Center.

"There have always been young professionals here that wanted to get involved and engaged, they just didn't know how, didn't have the framework for it - people didn't know where to start," Bennington said. "Generation Charleston is one of the vehicles able to do this service and have a voice."

The group recently started a special sub-committee that helps connect interested young professionals to boards and committees of non-profit groups around town that are in need of board members.

"This gives young professionals a seat at the table when it comes to decisions that have a real impact on our area," Bennington said.

"People would be surprised how many young people are very dedicated to the City of Charleston and willing to spend time doing service projects," McCoy said.

Debby Weinstein, the executive director for the YWCA, has seen Generation Charleston in action on several projects.

Weinstein is a member of the group's advisory committee, but she has also seen members help at the YWCA.

They've worked at the homeless shelter, painted at Sojourners shelter, sorted through clothing at the YWCA's gently used clothing store, which supports battered women and homeless women and children, and many other projects.

"They are doing remarkable volunteer work," Weinstein said. "These people are taking their energy, harnessing it and doing things. It's just a marvelous group."

Weinstein, who moved to Charleston in 1982 when she was in her mid-20s, said she had trouble then meeting people her own age, and a group like Generation Charleston would have helped.

"This is something that wasn't here when I was a young person in Charleston," she said. "If there were professionals my age in the community, I didn't know them, didn't see them. I wasn't networked with people my age, and it made it a little disheartening."

Weinstein said she urges every young person, whether they work in an office building or a different kind of job site, to join Generation Charleston to meet people and network in a way that was not available until just a couple of years ago.

The group also is devoted to making change in the city. Each year it adopts one specific project or group and works all year long on that endeavor.

After several options were presented this year, McCoy said the group voted to adopt the Gateway Greenspace Project.

The greenspace is to be built at the corner of Leon Sullivan Way and Washington Street in downtown Charleston.

McCoy said Generation Charleston is planning to host a block party May 1 to kick off construction on the project. Then, in the fall, members plan to get their hands dirty by planting bushes, trees, and doing other site work.

Generation Charleston operates as a branch of the Charleston Area Alliance. While there is no official age restriction, McCoy said the ages of group member range from about 25 to 40 years old.

Charleston Newspaers and Capitol Medical are presenting Health Care Career Expo from 10 a.m . to 2 p.m. April 27 at the Charleston Civic Center.

For more information, call (304) 348-4848.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Help your Business and Your Community
Through the Charleston Area Alliance Internship Program
A Message from Charleston Area Alliance President Matt Ballard

The Charleston Area Alliance's 2009 Internship Development Program is moving forward! Don't miss this opportunity to help retain the area's future leaders and help our region grow its intellectual capital by participating in the Charleston Area Alliance's 2009 Internship Development Program.

All internship opportunities must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, April 24 to ensure students are given adequate notice. The Charleston Area Alliance's Internship Development Program began in 2008 and works to promote internships with area businesses in an effort to retain future leaders in our area.

The Alliance is continuing to update its database of available internship positions and opportunities at local companies and is encouraging area businesses of all sizes to inform the Alliance of internship opportunities, paid or unpaid, that provide our future leaders with "real world" working experience. For example, a marketing student at the University of Charleston may be able to assist in the development of an ad campaign; an engineering student from WVU Tech could assist staff engineers on a special project; an education student from West Virginia State University could teach business writing and grammar skills to existing staff.

Once the Alliance receives your internship information, we will then notify the higher education institutions of these opportunities for their students. Our members tell us workforce development issues are one of their greatest challenges. The region's growth depends on increasing our intellectual capital - educated and skilled employees.

The Internship Development Program is just one way the Alliance is bringing the education and business sectors together to build a workforce equipped for the needs of today and tomorrow. This program will not only be beneficial to our member businesses but can serve as a catalyst to keep our youth in West Virginia. With the experience gained interning with local businesses, students will be more qualified for full-time employment at the conclusion of their education or skills training.

Email Lesley Hager with the Charleston Area Alliance or call (304) 340-4253. All opportunities must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, April 24.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Take a Stroll Downtown

Downtown ArtWalk is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 16.

Enjoy the best of what downtown has to offer as galleries open their doors after hours, inviting guests to enjoy art, refreshments and a fantastic atmosphere!

For more information, call (304) 340-4253 or visit

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'Expect the Best' Awards Reflect Changing Business Climate

The “best” just got “better.”

“Expect the Best from West Virginia,” the prestigious recognition program sponsored by the Charleston Area Alliance, has been updated to reflect the realities of today’s business environment.

The 16-year-old awards program spotlights business and non-profit organizations that promote quality of life and excellence in the workplace and community. While maintaining strong focus on quality and service to the community, awards criteria have been updated and expanded to include preparing for growth and responding to challenging economic conditions; attracting and retaining younger employees; promoting inclusion; and incorporating sustainability principles.

“Even the most successful businesses and organizations cannot rely on ‘business as usual’ to stay competitive in today’s environment,” explained Alliance President/CEO Matt Ballard. “We revamped and rebranded ‘Expect the Best’ to highlight the some of the issues that can make a real difference in both short- and long-term success.

“First and foremost is development of a strategic or business plan to help an organization position itself for growth and respond to changing economic conditions,” said Ballard.

Attracting and retaining younger employees is another critical factor, he said. “Workforce concerns are one of the biggest challenges facing local businesses,” Ballard explained. “Their future – and indeed that of our community – will depend on the next generation of employees and leaders.”

Building an inclusive workforce will also shape success, Ballard said. Empirical studies show that diverse work teams are more innovative and profitable to their employers, he explained. “Promoting inclusion is the right thing – and the smart thing – for organizations that want to succeed.”

Implementing sustainability measures can also influence success. “From the simplest measure of installing motion-sensitive light switches to pursuing new opportunities presented by our nation’s energy challenges, every organization can take steps to reduce costs, increase profits and ‘sustain’ its future,” Ballard said.

The panel of judges for the 2009 “Expect the Best” awards has also been expanded and diversified and includes a wide range of leaders from successful large and small businesses and non-profit organizations. The judging committee (in formation) includes: Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis; Stephen Fowler, Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe PLLC; David Hill, Arnett & Foster; John Jarrett, Jarrett Construction Services, Inc.; Pat Kelly, Steptoe & Johnson; Matt Kingery, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP; Callen McJunkin, Callen McJunkin Gallery/The Loft@219; Gail Pitchford, CAMC Foundation; Charles Ryan, University of Charleston; Bill Signorelli, Security America; Kelley Steele, Bluegrass Kitchen; Debby Weinstein, YWCA of Charleston.

“Expect the Best” awards will be given in three categories: Large business, small business and non-profit, government or non-traditional organization.

Based on the information provided during a 15-minute presentation, judges will score how well the applicant business meets the “Expect the Best” award criteria, with a maximum score of 100 points.

The awards will be presented in person at the Clay Center on June 3 during the Alliance's Annual Celebration. Winners will also be showcased in an engaging video, produced by the award-winning firm “Motion Masters,” that will be shown to the hundreds of business and community leaders in attendance.

Deadline for “Expect the Best” applications is Thursday, April 23. Judging will take place April 29 and 30.

Visit to download and application and view the criteria. Or call (304) 340-4253 for more information.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dropout Prevention Summit Scheduled for April 27

You are cordially invited to attend the Kanawha County Dropout Prevention Summit, to be held on Monday, April 27, 2009 from 8:00 a.m. until 12:20 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center. The very special summit is sponsored by West Virginia’s Promise and HOPE Community Development Corporation.

America’s Promise has asked governors and mayors to address the dropout dilemma that faces our nation. West Virginia Governor and Mrs. Manchin are hosting a WV’s Dropout Prevention Summit on July 14, 2009 in Charleston. Regional summits are being held throughout the State to address this issue and your input is crucial so that the report submitted by Kanawha County for the WV Dropout Prevention Summit addresses the local issues and provides local solutions to the dropout dilemma.

The Kanawha County Summit is designed to educate, enlighten, entertain and inspire you and the community! Speakers and presenters will provide valuable information regarding the impact the dropout dilemma has on our local community. You will be shocked!

So that the community is informed and heard, the presenters, facilitators and sponsors are working to create an environment for youth, parents, community leaders, community organization representatives, the public school system, and the legal justice system to have a meaningful dialogue that provides solutions to the dropout dilemma, increases the graduation rate and encourages youth to further their education at a post-secondary or vocational institution or program. Attached for your information is a tentative agenda and registration form.

PLEASE REGISTER TO ATTEND THIS SUMMIT TODAY. Also, please feel free to contact me regarding this event at (304) 340-3503 or via e-mail at We look forward to seeing you on April 27!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The editorial below came from the Charleston Gazette's opinion page.
195,000 city

Hurrah. Both chambers of the Legislature approved Senate Bill 239, to let a simple majority of local voters approve merger between cooperative local governments.

Hurrah. Both chambers of the Legislature approved Senate Bill 239, to let a simple majority of local voters approve merger between cooperative local governments. We hope Gov. Manchin swiftly signs this teamwork measure into law.

As soon as the former 55 percent voter approval requirement is gone, we hope Charleston and Kanawha County plunge boldly into their much-discussed plan to unite, creating a far-flung capital city of perhaps 195,000 population.

Such a merger would prevent Charleston from slipping below 50,000 in next year's census - a dismal prospect that would leave West Virginia with no Class I cities above 50,000. Huntington is doomed to drop to Class II, and no other Mountain State city comes close to 50,000.

Expanding Charleston to countywide size is a win-win idea. It wouldn't affect Kanawha's other 14 municipalities, which would retain their current identities and individual governments. But all jurisdictions might save taxpayer money by streamlining and merging some local services.

The need to unite is spurred by relentless population loss that has afflicted the mid-Kanawha Valley during the past four decades. In the 1960 census, Charleston had 86,000 people, and Kanawha County had 253,000. Next year, the current Charleston seems certain to slide below 50,000, and the whole county will drop below 200,000.

Quadrupling the capital's size would boost this locale's standing in America's commerce. Matt Ballard, president of the Charleston Area Alliance, told a legislative hearing that reducing the voter approval threshold to 50 percent would improve chances for Kanawha-Charleston unification, which would improve chances to attract new business and industry. "This bill is about economic development," Ballard said.

As introduced, the bill aimed just at Kanawha, because it applied only to counties above 150,000 population.

Local residents owe gratitude to state Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, who championed streamlining local government - and to Kanawha Commission President Kent Carper, who pushes for unity - and to Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who urged cutting the voter approval rate to 50 percent - and to many other local leaders backing teamwork.

SB239 was the first measure passed by the Senate, on March 2, with the support of all four Kanawha senators. In Thursday's House approval, Kanawha's three Republican delegates voted no, while all Democrats voted yes, except for Bonnie Brown, who was absent.

Now that the vote threshold has been eased, it's time to move rapidly to create a state capital of nearly 200,000.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Metro 911 to Host Open House

Metro 911 will offer tours, a cookout lunch, and 911 public education in celebration of Public Safety Telecommunicators Week across the nation.

The public is welcome to take a tour of the Ned Chilton 911 Center, meet the people who answer their calls for help and learn more about the hard job 911 telecommunicators perform every day. Metro also welcomes all field units and response agency personnel to join in the celebration of the people who dispatch calls 24 hours a day.

The Open House will take place on Wednesday, April 15 and will feature tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A cookout lunch will be available for guests starting at 12 noon.

The Metro 911 Communications Center is located at 200 Peyton Way in Southridge Business Park along Corridor G.

For more information, call Public Education Coordinator Laura Starks at (304) 746.7911.

SBA to Hold Business Tax Clinic April 16

There’s more to starting a business than getting a license. Once you start operations you have to worry about obligations under the tax laws. The U.S. Small Business Administration and Charleston SCORE Chapter 256 will be conducting a free small business clinic entitled “Business Taxes Explained” on Thursday, April 16 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the 4th Floor Conference Room at 405 Capitol Street in Charleston.

Presented by Joetta Kuhn, CPA and SCORE member and Kimberly Donahue, business development specialist for the SBA, attendees will learn about the most common tax reporting requirements, including sales and use tax, payroll taxes, and city taxes.

Participants will have the opportunity for a candid Q&A period with Kuhn. In addition, everyone will receive a West Virginia Tax Calculator, an IRS Tax Calendar, and a Small Business Resource Guide from the SBA.

This clinic is one in a series of free small business clinics. Future clinics and dates are as follows:
“Business Loans— No Hype, Just the Facts” May 7, September 3 and October 1;
“Business Legal Organization and Tax Rates” May 21 and September 17;
“Business Taxes Explained” April 16, August 20 and October 15.

The clinic is open to the public and is offered at no cost. Registration is requested as seating is limited. Individuals can register online at or by calling (304) 347-5463 or (304) 347-5220.

University of Charleston Speaker Series
Welcomes H. Rodgin Cohen

The University of Charleston Speaker Series, sponsored by Dow Chemical Foundation, this spring will feature Charleston native H. Rodgin Cohen, managing partner of Sullivan & Cromwell.
The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, April 16 in the University of Charleston Riggleman Hall Auditorium.

Cohen is one of the foremost experts on financial institutions and recently withdrew his name from consideration for appointment as the Assistant Secretary of Treasury. In an October 9, 2008 profile, the Wall Street Journal called Mr. Cohen "one of the most influential private-sector players in the financial crisis."

A question and answer session will follow the program, moderated by UC President Dr. Edwin H. Welch. As always, the UC Speaker Series, sponsored by Dow Chemical Foundation, is free and open to the public.

For more information, please call (304) 357-4717.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Warehouse Warm Up to Welcome Back Power
and Offer Great Deals

East End Main Street will host the first annual Warehouse Warm Up business promotion from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 11.

The West Virginia Power baseball organization will open up Appalachian Power Park’s back gates and give exclusive access to the "Kidz Zone" for all children and their parents who will want to browse the Warehouse District stores and check out the exclusive deals businesses will be offering in the Warehouse District.

“It’s our way of welcoming back the Power for the 2009 season,” said Ric Cavender, East End Main Street program director.

The Power play the first weekend game of the season at 6:05 p.m. that evening. The Power will host a drawing during Warehouse Warm Up for a free four-pack of tickets to the game. In addition, children will have the opportunity to get player autographs and have pictures taken with the Power mascots.Maps of participating Warehouse District businesses, complete with their Warehouse Warm Up special offers, will be available at the East End Main Street table located directly across Smith Street from the back gates of Appalachian Power Park.

“The only way you’ll be able to experience the great deals offered from the Warehouse District businesses and possibly get free Power tickets and autographs is to come down to the Warehouse Warm Up,” Cavender said.

Advertised Specials and Activities
- Contemporary Galleries: 35 percent off all 1st floor gifts and FREE baseball caps for the kids
- ESC Carpet, Tile, and More: 5 percent off all hardwoods, area rugs and remnants
- Kyle Furniture: 5 percent off everything in the store, including sale items
- Pugh Furniture: 10 percent off all purchases over $500 and 5 percent off all purchases under $500 (some exclusions apply)
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 10 percent off all retail rentals (excluding corporate accounts)
- Capitol Market: Fun art project for the kids hosted by The Clay Center from 10 a.m. to noon and “monster bubble making” from noon to 2 p.m.
- Valley Gardens: 20 percent off all flowering shrubs
- Habitat for Humanity ReStore: 20 percent off everything in the store
- Ferguson Enterprises: Buy one showroom light, get one free (limit 2 per customer)

In addition, Leonards Restaurant will be selling fish sandwiches and hot dogs. East End Main Street will serve fresh lemonade, and local artist Rob Cleland will pain free caricatures for kids during the event.

More details will be available in all East End businesses and at

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Financial Management for Small Business Owners
& Entrepreneurs Workshop Scheduled for April 23

West Virginia State Community and Technical College is administering Economic Recovery Therapy for small business owners and future entrepreneurs in the form of workshops geared to treat the economic downturn in our local economy.

"Financial Management for Small Business Owner & Entrepreneurs" is scheduled for 9 to 11 a.m. April 23 in Room 112 of the Cole Complex. The cost is $25 per person. WVSCTC and West Virginia State University students get in free with a college ID.

Members of Charleston Area Alliance, Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, and South Charleston Chamber of Commerce receive a five percent discount.

“The key word moving forward is 'entrepreneurship,'” says Chad Moutray, Chief Economist and Director of Economic Research at the Office of Advocacy for the U.S. Small Business Administration in a recent article in Community College Entrepreneurship.

Job growth is going to come from new ventures and community colleges can play a key role in educating small business owners and entrepreneurs on topics such as, financial management, venture capital, and marketing. The Economic Recovery Therapy treatment at WVSCTC starts with a dose of Financial Management for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs on April 23 followed up with a dose of "How to Obtain Small Business Loans" on May 12 and a dose of Marketing Strategies on May 28. As a follow up, the college also is inviting local business owners and entrepreneurs to participate in our Entrepreneurs Round Table discussion on June 9.

If you are in career transition and thinking about starting your own business or you own your own business and need to know more about financial management, come to campus and learn from W. Howard Warwick, Jr. a retired Certified Public Accountant who currently provides business coaching services to small and medium size businesses in the Charleston and Huntington areas on a part time basis. He started and operated an accounting practice that provided accounting, consulting and tax services to a variety of small businesses and individuals for over twenty years. After selling his practice in 2000 at age 50, he spent several years in retirement, and ultimately got bored. He has been providing business coaching services for over two years, focusing on financial management and strategic planning issues.

If you are interested and would like more information, call (304) 766-5248 and speak to Kim Sovine, program manager at WV State Community & Technical College.

Register online at You may also call (304) 766-5113 or e-mail to register. For information on other programs offered by the West Virginia State Community and Technical College, visit the web site at

West Virginia State Community & Technical College
to Celebrate with Open House April 17

The month of April has been designated as National Community College month in recognition of the vital role the nation's 1,171 community colleges play in providing broad access to higher education, serving nearly one-half of the nation's college students. According to the U.S. Department of Education more than 40 percent of the nation's college students begin their academic careers at a community college. WV State Community and Technical College prepares students to transfer to four-year institutions, provides workforce development and skills training and offers noncredit programs for employment and personal enrichment.

To celebrate the month, the college has scheduled an open house from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 17 at the Cole Complex.

There will be lots of activities and give-a-ways as well as a drawing will be held to give a-way an Apple I-Pod Touch at the conclusion of the Open House.

9 a.m. - 1 p.m.: An “Introduction to Digital Photography Workshop” will be held in 219 Cole Complex. The cost is $49.

11 a.m. - 6 p.m.: In addition to numerous activities, advisors for over 22 associate and one-year certificate degree programs will be available to speak to attendees. “Attended College But No Degree” and “College at Any Age” Information Sessions will be held for Adult Learners in an open walk-in (no appointment necessary) format.

The West Virginia State Community & Technical College Department of Nursing will also offer Free Blood Pressure Checks throughout the day.

Noon – 2 p.m.: 98.7 The Beat Radio Remote- DJ’s from 98.7 will be broadcasting LIVE from the lawn in front of the Cole Complex.

Todd Beane, Communications and Marketing Specialist for the Gus R. Douglas Institute will conduct the following workshops in Room 110:
Noon – 1 p.m.: "Social Media 101 for Business"
4 - 5 p.m.- "Social Media 101 For Parents"
5 p.m. -6 p.m.- "Social Media 101 For Students"

Contact Bertlela Montgomery at or Gayla Doughty at for more information.

Join Generation Charleston April 16 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Embassy Suites for Capitol Calling, a legislative luncheon featuring Gov. Joe Manchin and West Virginia's young, elected leaders.

Learn what went on this session and how your representatives got elected. This is insight you can use.

Get Prepared By Bridging the GAAP to IFRS

A two-day workshop for executives, analysts, accountants and others responsible for financial reporting and analysis is scheduled for May 4 and 5 at Embassy Suites in Charleston.

The workshop is designed for those who understand U.S. GAAP and need to know about IFRS to function in the global marketplace.

Enroll online today at wvu.qualtricscom/SE/?SID=SV_5h8PMVcXzy3aSAA&SVID=Prod or call (304) 293-7961.

Early incentive pricing is available for those who enroll before April 15. To find more information, visit

Friday, April 03, 2009

Generation Charleston's First Friday social event is this evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Vandalia Grille, 212 Hale Street.

It's a great opportunity to meet new people, have a good time and learn more about Generation Charleston.

You also have a chance to sign up for tomorrow's volunteer effort, a clean-up of the Kanawha River bank. Click here for more information about that project.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

It's a Big World

By Matt Ballard, president and CEO, Charleston Area Alliance
& Jack Rossi, chairman

Chamber of Commerce presidents from around the country, including those from Lexington, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, St. Paul, Green Bay, Albany, Milwaukee, Dayton, Oklahoma City, and our very own Charleston, West Virginia, recently returned from a trade mission to China.

Here is some of what we learned about the importance of a China strategy for businesses that are serious about having a a global presence:

• The Chinese economy: The Chinese economy is the third largest in the world after the United States and Japan. Its economy has, and is, growing rapidly, and the annual income of the Chinese people is increasing year after year. The Chinese economy is more market-driven than ever and the results are palpable.
• China’s workforce – it’s a "Value Meal, Super Sized": China offers potential employees at a low price. That workforce is not without risk, but the low costs of the workforce in China are one big reason the United States has a trade deficit with this nation.
• Population: China’s rapidly growing population continues to expand its potential workforce. With that growth comes a vast increase in consumers. Many businesses have only thought of China to access its workforce to supply the rest of the world, but they also should think about establishing operations in China to supply the Chinese people.

For the last several years, the Charleston Area Alliance has focused on international economic and business development as one of its target areas for job growth. The result has been good for West Virginia and the Charleston region.

Did you know there are now more than 20 Japanese companies in West Virginia? Did you know the Alliance has been instrumental in attracting many European businesses to expand into the Mountain State? Did you know that the Alliance and its partner, the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Office, provide one-on-one consulting for businesses who want to export their products from West Virginia, generating new revenues and creating new jobs?

Last year, West Virginia exports grew 41 percent while the average export growth of the 50 U.S. states was only 12 percent. These positive outcomes for our state did not and cannot happen within a vacuum. There are few borders left in this "flat world." We, as a state and people, must embrace the global economy.

As an economic development organization, the Alliance is now exploring leading an international trade mission. The goal would be to establish an affordable itinerary that would allow community leaders, government officials, business leaders and interested parties to learn about China’s business climate and economy, identify Chinese businesses that may be exploring expansion into the U.S. market (and West Virginia) and begin to foster relationships that will help West Virginia businesses compete on the global economic scene.

As always, we are working to create a more vibrant community and prosperous economy. There is no better time to invest your talents and resources in the Alliance. Together, we can and will pursue opportunity wherever it leads ... down the street or around the world.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tips for Small Business in Tough Economic Times

(These tips are good in all economic conditions!)

Businesses must be able to respond quickly to meet the needs and demands of the ever-changing customer and economic climate.

The successful business will:

Target the market to provide improved and innovative services.

Sell a package or experience to enhance the unique product and services. The tourism industry packages; can your business adopt this model?

Train and then train again, the front-line staff to be personal and knowledgeable. Your front line must have good customer service skill sets.

Constantly communicate and learn from customers and staff.

Get out of the office/shop and see what the competition and other businesses are doing.

Remain flexible and respond quickly to the changing customer and economy.

Concentrate on keeping all your existing customers and focus on one new customer at a time. New customers mean new revenues.

Keep a positive outlook. That attitude will radiate through your entire staff. Although the economy is tough now, it will improve. Those who work hardest now will make it through the tough times and likely be better off than when this economic situation began.

Give thought to where the next customer may be? In the city or area you live in, elsewhere in the state, or somewhere else in the world!

The Alliance serves as the economic and business development, community development as well as the largest regional Chamber of Commerce in West Virginia. Are you or someone you know seeking export/import assistance, office space with which to take an at-home business to the next level with incubator office space, assistance in finding quality employees, training opportunities for your employees, assistance in contracting with state and federal government, or even social events to network with new potential customers?

Recent research indicates that being an active member in your local economic and business development and chamber of commerce can in itself improve your business.

Consider these facts and call us today to get involved.

If a business is involved in its local chamber or economic development organization, 12% of consumers believe the products or services of that business stack up better than the non-member competition.

When a consumer knows a small business is a member of their local economic development organization or chamber, they are 44% more likely to think favorably of that business and 63% more likely to purchase goods or services from that business.

Two great reasons to join and get involved in the Charleston Area Alliance.

Call us now if you have questions about membership or the economic development services we provide at (304) 340-4253.

The Charleston Area Alliance is your resource for business. If we don’t know the answer, we know who does.

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