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, June 30, 2009

Charleston's Haddad Park to get permanent stage

June 30, 2009
By Jim Balow
Staff writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Haddad Riverfront Park will get a permanent stage along with its new canopy by the end of the year, thanks to a gift by Betty Schoenbaum, city officials announced Tuesday.

Architects from Silling Associates unveiled plans Tuesday morning for what will be called the Schoenbaum Stage -- large enough to hold the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra -- to be built beside the Kanawha River at the base of the Haddad amphitheater.

Designers from Silling and GAI Consultants Inc. had drawn up preliminary plans for such a stage earlier this year for the city's Riverfront Committee. But they moved the project to the back burner after learning the $2.4 federal earmark Sen. Robert C. Byrd obtained for park improvements would cover only higher-priority items -- the canopy, a pavilion/overlook at the foot of Court Street and a floating dock for small boats.

Schoenbaum's gift -- $350,000 from the Schoenbaum Fund -- will pay most of the estimated $500,000 cost of the stage. "I'm confident [City] Council can come up with the remaining $150,000." City Manager David Molgaard said.

Mayor Danny Jones thanked Schoenbaum during Tuesday's Riverfront Committee meeting at City Hall.

"We're more grateful than you'll ever know. It'll be one of the mainstays of our city."

Reach Jim Balow at or 304-348-5102.

Gateway Greenspace Update

June 30, 2009

The weather is finally cooperating with the construction crew... two concrete pours in one week! The first 80' section of the back wall was poured today and the last section of the footer is being formed. The contractor hopes to make the final concrete pour of the footer this week.

The mast footer with all its steel reinforcement and high strength concrete will give support to the back wall. This component will allow fill to be placed against the wall giving the site the appearance and affects of a natural sloping hill.

Photos by Susie Salisbury, Comments by Mike Aeiker

Monday, June 29, 2009

West Virginia Department of Commerce seeks a Web Designer

The job involves an extensive amount of coding and digital art production skill, with particular emphasis on .Net knowledge and design ability.
The Online Marketing Specialist creates high caliber interactive design for communication projects promoting West Virginia’s travel, business, work force and natural resources to their best advantage in-state, nationally and internationally.

Proven Flash animation talent is required.

HTML coding (by hand and WYSIWYG), debugging, asset management, database management and online art production skills are musts. Adobe Creative Suite skills are essential.

Portfolio review required, including URLs for online work.

Candidates must work at a brisk pace as part of interdisciplinary teams within an agency setting. Professional client service to deliver projects on time, on budget, and on quality is expected.

Salary: $26-48K. This is a classified position.

Please click the link for a detailed description:

The Truth About Government Grants

"Where can I get a small business grant?" is the single most common request asked by small business owners.And the answer is probably the single most frustrating one an entrepreneur hears, but here it goes, because it is worth repeating:

Federal and state government agencies do not provide grants for starting a business, paying off debt, or to cover operating expenses. Government agencies do not provide "special" grants for women, minorities, veterans or disabled entrepreneurs. The Federal government also does not provide grants to small business owners as part of the Recovery Act.

Why are people asking for a small business grant if none exist?

Because there are lots of people telling you these grants exist in order to sell you something. As my colleague wrote a few months ago, any one who promises you that you can obtain a small business grant from the government by subscribing to a book, CD or website, is scamming you. Save your money.

Doesn’t SBA give out grants?

SBA does not provide grants to small businesses. In fact, SBA does not lend money. SBA provides a guaranty on loans made through commercial lenders. This guaranty means that the SBA assumes a percentage of the financial risk if a borrower defaults on the loan. Commercial lenders are inclined to provide SBA backed loans to small business owners who otherwise would not qualify for traditional loan programs.

But the government does give out grants, right?

Yes, but these grants are generally only available to non-profits, educational institutions, associations and state and local government agencies. Government grants cover a wide range of activities, from agriculture production to zoological research.

Eligibility for a grant varies according to its purpose and use. For profit businesses may be eligible for some grants, but rarely are these available to small businesses, and they are never available to cover start up costs, debt and operating expenses.

For example, the U.S. Forest Service provides grants that aid forest restoration activities. As you can see from grant announcements, a number of organizations are eligible, including for-profit organizations, except for small businesses.

If you are small technology company, there is a Federal grant program for you. The Federal government's SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) programs award a specific percentage of Federal R&D funds to qualified small businesses. SBIR/STTR programs encourage small firms to undertake scientific research that helps the government meet it’s R&D objectives, and that have a good chance of being commercialized.

Grants are not “free money”While there may be some truth to the popular perception that “grants are money don’t have to pay back,” grant money must be used for a very specific purpose, and conditions that directly benefit the organization making the grant.

For example, one of the few small business grants I found is the Vermont Technical Assistance Grant. Its purpose is to provide funding to help existing technology businesses develop new products, and provides very specific conditions on how the money should be spent.

Likewise, the State of Nebraska provides grants to child care businesses for making improvements to their facilities. Small and home-based business are eligible, but the terms are specific.

Grants in a Nutshell

So, here’s the truth about government grants in nutshell:

There are no government grants for starting a business, paying debt or covering operating expenses. For these funding needs, you should seek a small business loan.
If you are eligible for government grant, you should be aware of specific terms and conditions of the proceeds. Grants are not "free money" and often the government expects some return on its investment: either indirectly through improvement in regional economies; or directly through the development of technology the government can use in its programs and services.

Locating Grant Announcements

There are two primary resources for seeking information on available grants:
The Business Loans & Grants Search tool provides a listing for government-backed and select private sector financing programs available to small business owners, including grants, when available. is the one-stop resource for locating grants made for Federal agencies. includes grants available to for-profit organizations (except for small businesses).

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) lists thousands for Federal government programs and services that provide financial and non-financial support to American citizens.

This article appeared on on June 12, 2009
For general information, visit’s Guide to Government Grants.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Get a Taste of FestivALL This Weekend

Many downtown restaurants are changing their operating hours this weekend in conjunction with FestivALL events.

Bellacino's, Blossom Deli, Capitol Roasters, Charleston Town Center's Picnic Place, Chili's, Chop House, Cilantro's, and Diana's Capitol Street Cafe just to name a few are open for FestivALL.

Click the link below to check out the FestivALL Downtown Food Guide and enjoy FestivALL this weekend, when Charleston becomes a work of art!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Business group gives details about trade trip to China

Appearing in the Charleston Daily Mail
June 22, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Charleston Area Alliance has released more information about its planned trade mission to China in April.

During the alliance's Annual Celebration at the Clay Center on June 3, Matt Ballard announced that the regional economic development organization is planning the trip.

Ballard, the Alliance's president and chief executive officer, said the trip is scheduled to depart from Charleston on April 16. He said the rationale for the mission includes:

exposing local businesses, citizens and government leaders to present and future economic opportunities in China, including attracting new direct foreign investment and job creation in West Virginia.

meeting with Chinese leaders to establish relationships. He said trade mission participants will likely meet with representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce, the United States Department of Commerce's Export Office and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

assisting local businesses that may want to continue or begin exporting to China.
exploring and learning about the most populous country in the world.

The group will likely stop in four cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Souzhou.
Ballard said trip participants can expect to gain a better understanding of:

the economic and cultural changes in China and how they impact West Virginia, the United States and the globe.

their own business or our region's economic assets and how they can be used to boost imports and exports or to open facilities in China.

what Chinese businesses are looking for when they seek to expand into the United States market.

The trip also is expected to include a roundtable discussion of Alliance business and activities plus tours of a few historic or cultural venues like the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square.

"We are working now to finalize a strong agenda and maximize the mission, which will be seven days on the ground in China," he said. "Cost of the trade mission is expected to be approximately $2,500, which would include the flight to and from JFK to Beijing; all transportation while in China, including in-country flights and bus; three meals per day while in China; and hotel. The Alliance hopes to have the final pricing completed in early July."

Ballard said the deadline to commit to the trip will likely be Jan. 1.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Greenspace Construction News!

June 22, 2009

Forms are going up for the back retaining wall and an additional 70’ of footer is being prepared today. The cistern materials are on site. This will hold much of the storm water runoff from the adjacent building to feed the stream feature and reflecting pool.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


ABC News’ Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer to Moderate a Primetime Conversation with President Barack Obama about the Future of the Nation’s Healthcare System

A special edition of “Primetime” will air from the White House Wednesday, June 24 at 10 p.m.

As the nation debates sweeping changes in healthcare, ABC News’ Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer will moderate a conversation with President Obama about this critical issue on the nation’s agenda.

During the discussion from the East Room of the White House, President Obama will answer questions from an audience made up of Americans selected by ABC News who have divergent opinions in this historic debate. ABC News’ Medical Editor Dr. Timothy Johnson will also take part in the conversation which will focus on different ideas for how to fix the system and how proposed changes will impact our already fragile economy.

The health care conversation will continue on “Nightline” at 11:35pm ET.

Wednesday morning’s “Good Morning America” will originate from the South Lawn of the White House and will include an exclusive interview with President Obama. He sits down with Diane Sawyer to discuss healthcare and other issues on the nation’s agenda. Wednesday’s program will also feature portions of Robin Roberts’ exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Charles Gibson will anchor “World News” from the Blue Room of the White House on Wednesday. will invite viewers to join the discussion and share their questions about health care reform at starting Tuesday, June 16th. will be working with to select popular questions voted on by online users and some of those questions will be put to President Obama during the program. ABC News' daily political webcast, “Top Line”, will focus on health care reform throughout the week of June 22. senior political reporter and author of the Note, Rick Klein, will live-blog and interact with users as the forum airs and full video coverage of the forum will be posted online. A special section of dedicated to the health care debate will offer comprehensive coverage of the forum and will continue as legislation is taken up in Congress.

ABC News Radio will air portions of “Questions for the President: Prescription for America” and will also produce a special edition of its weekly news magazine PERSPECTIVE, that will include portions of the special. PERSPECTIVE will be available to ABC News Radio affiliates for use over the weekend of June 27-28.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central WV
Employment Opportunities

Executive Director

Work collaboratively with staff and the Board of Directors to lead and contribute to the success of the organization. Prepare annual budget, maintain policies, procedures, and adequate records in accordance with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s Minimum Practice Standards. Supervise staff. Promote BBBS program to attract new volunteer mentors. Represent and market BBBS in the community to generate and build strong relationships with donors and other financial resources. Pursue grant funding opportunities, and obtain grants to enhance both the administrative operation and mentoring aspects of the agency.

Qualifications: Bachelor’s Degree and a minimum of five years experience in major fundraisers, successful grant writing and administrative/management experience preferably for a nonprofit organization. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are required. A background check is required.

To apply: Submit resume and cover letter, including salary requirement, postmarked no later than July 11th, 2009 to BBBS, 1021 Quarrier St., Medical Arts Bldg. Ste. 506, Charleston, WV 25301

No phone calls accepted.

Case Manager

Position is responsible for the Case Management of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central WV mentoring programs which includes scheduling, assessing, service delivery, monitoring, and management. Responsible for providing support to matches to ensure satisfying relationships between children and volunteers and will assist with the day-to-day operations of the office.

Qualifications: A Bachelor’s degree in social work or related required; must have WV Social Worker License. The candidate must have superior organizational, oral and written communication skills, customer service, and computer skills. Valid driver’s license, transportation and background check are required.

To apply: Submit resume and cover letter, including salary requirement, postmarked no later than July 11th, 2009 to BBBS, 1021 Quarrier St., Medical Arts Bldg. Ste. 506, Charleston, WV 25301

No phone calls accepted.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Gateway Greenspace Update!

Gateway Greenspace Concrete is Poured

June 16, 2009
The first 80 foot section of the back retaining wall footer is being poured as seen in this photo. Orders Construction Company excavated to a designed elevation , installed wooden forms and placed steel reinforcement in preparation for pouring of the concrete. The crew was able to complete the pour, finish and cover the fresh concrete just in time... to beat the RAIN!

(photos by Mike Aeiker)

2009 Fall Career Expo

Employer Registration is now open for the 2009 FALL CAREER EXPO at Marshall University, sponsored by Career Services. The Expo will take place on October 7th from 10:00am-2:00pm at the Memorial Student Center. Companies seeking full time, part time, seasonal or internship positions are encouraged to attend.

Companies who wish to collect resumes for future employment needs or want the opportunity to network and brand themselves with the Marshall University community are also encouraged to be a part of this productive event.

Early registration will save on cost and lock in your prime table location. Registration fees follow and include lunch and parking for up to 2 recruiters:

· Early registration $140 until August 21st
· Registration $150 August 22nd-Sept. 23rd
· Late registration $170 September 24th- October 5
· Extra recruiters $ 15 each

If you have a JobTrax account with Career Services, you can log-in to your account and register at any time. If your company is not registered with JobTrax or you have questions, contact Debby Stoler 304-696-6679 or Glen Midkiff 304-696-3396 for information on how to register.

This is one of the many pieces of art available during East End Main Street's StreetWorks June 21.

Click here to register.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Higher education opportunities in the greater Charleston area featured on YouTube

Check out this YouTube video, featuring highlights of higher education opportunities in the greater Charleston Area:

This video was developed by the Greater Charleston Higher Education Council. For information on the Greater Charleston Higher Education Council, please visit:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

School's in Session for the Summer at the Charleston Area Alliance

The Alliance is offering a series of eight practical workshops for local businesses to help them navigate today's economy.

Session 1 on Tuesday, June 16th from noon to 1pm, is "Surviving in a Challenging Economy." The speaker is M.E. Yancosek Gambel of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center.

The remaining sessions include "Networking 101" (June 24), "Keeping Your Team Motivated" (July 8), "Web 2.0" (July 15), "Government Connections" (July 22), "Saving Green by Going Green" (July 29), "Stretching Your Marketing Dollar" (Aug. 5) and "Staying Up in a Down Economy."

Speakers to include:

M.E. Yancosek Gambel with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, Jim Strawn with Highland Hospital, Pat Kelly with Steptoe & Johnson, former Secretary of State Betty Ireland, Kanawha County Manager Brent Pauley, City of Charleston Manager Dave Molgaar and David Tincher with the West Virginia Purchasing Division.

Tuition for the eight-session series, which includes program materials and lunch at each session, is only $50 for Alliance members and $100 for future members. Individual sessions are $10 for members and $20 for future members.

Those who attend all eight sessions will receive a diploma.

Register for the entire course by clicking on this link:

Or contact to register for individual classes only.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another Gateway Greenspace Update!

June 10, 2009

Construction continues on Gateway Greenspace. Order's Construction employees are setting the forms for the 200 ft. back retaining wall. Check back regularly for construction updates or contact Susie Salisbury at 304-340-4253.

Social Security, Medicare Shortages Hurt W.Va.
Article appearing in The State Journal, Thursday, May 28, 2009.
Story by Ann Ali

CHARLESTON -- The trust funds powering Social Security and Medicare are running dry, and one West Virginia economist says it's a national problem that won't single out the Mountain State and its high percentage of older residents.

Social Security is largely a pay-as-you-go program, according to information from the Social Security Administration, which paid benefits to about 54.7 million people in 2007. Recent numbers show Social Security will run out of funding by 2037 and Medicare will be broke by 2017.

"It just means we will have to pay the whole amounts out of current revenues, and that of course is all being exacerbated by the current recession, because any time unemployment goes up, these taxes go down," said Cal Kent, vice president of business and economic research at Marshall University. "That's why the level of concern has gone up with these funds."

Kent said the dwindling funds mean people who are working will likely be taxed further to pick up the expenses.

"This is a national program, so it's not a situation of where we are going to suffer because people live in West Virginia," he said. "What it could mean very much is higher taxes on the people that are working in West Virginia.

"There may be moves to increase further the retirement age so people may have to work until they're 68 or 70 before they become eligible for full benefits."

Kent said he hasn't heard any talk of the retirement age being changed for Medicare services, but stated that any effects would be the same in West Virginia as they would be across the nation.

"We've known that the current levels -- payments and revenues -- were not sustainable when the baby boomers hit the pay-out phase," he said. "That means that there's going to have to be pretty high taxes or very significant reforms."

Matt Ballard, president and chief executive officer of the Charleston Area Alliance, said for the first time in history, his generation and those after are planning for a future that may have no Social Security benefits, or benefits that are very different from previous generations.

"We've known for a long time, but there still hasn't been a lot of work done, in my view, on a national level to keep funds solvent and make sure it's there for future generations," Ballard said.
"Young people now have to be even more educated on the types of investments we make in retirement or individual stocks, with a financial adviser, to plan better and make strategic investments so we'll be prepared when that time comes."

Ballard said young people have a hard time juggling their finances when they enter the work force because of student debt and immediate payments for cars or housing.

"It makes it very difficult for the first few years in the career world," he said. "How do you save when you're trying to rent or buy a home, you probably need a car, and then you've got student loan debt, so what portion of your income is left to save?"

Kent said other than increasing the eligibility age, he hasn't heard any serious discussion of changes to benefits.

"Of course, we're waiting to see what the Obama administration's single-payer health plan is going to look like, and that may have a lot of implications," he said. "What's really breaking the system right now is the sky-rocketing medical costs.

"The problem with that is we can say we'll just pay lower reimbursements, and all that happens is the cost just gets shifted on."

Kent said talking about Medicare and Social Security benefits raises public misunderstanding and public fear.

"The problem has been around for so long, and they've done so little because it's such a political hot potato," he said. "As we get closer to 2017, somebody is going to have to do something, and one just hopes they're going to do the right things rather than the wrong things."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Gateway Greenspace Update!

June 8, 2009

Progress continues on the corner of Washington Street East and Leon Sullivan Way as the storm water system is installed as part of the Gateway Greenspace project.

The project received an additional $25,000 contribution last week from Walmart.

For further information on the project, please contact Susie Salisbury at 304-340-4253.

What Did You Think?

The Charleston Area Alliance Annual Celebration is a gala tribute to the people, businesses and organizations that have helped to build a more vibrant community and prosperous economy.

We would appreciate your opinion of this event so that we may continue to present quality programming that meets the expectations of our members, our sponsors and the community.

Click here to link to our survey. Thank you very much.

This is one of the many pieces of art available during East End Main Street's StreetWorks June 21.

Click here to register.

Meet the Best Business Minds of 2009

Get energized when you meet the best business minds of 2009.

Join us at the West Virginia Small Business Awards Celebration at Tamarack in Beckley.

Connect with the creative powerhouses behind successful companies like Citynet, Oliverio’s Ristorante, and Petitto Mine Equipment Company.

When: Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Noon - 2:00 p.m. - Luncheon & Awards Presentation

Where: Tamarack Conference Center
Beckley, WV

Cost: $30 per person or $350 for a table of 10

RSVP by June 10, 2009

Register: Click Here. Or contact Karen Jones at 800.766.4556

Sponsored by the West Virginia Women’s Business & Training Center and the West Virginia Small Business Development Center

Have a great idea to help your community?

Then apply for a Do Something Grant!

What is a Do Something Grant?

Did you recently create a sustainable community action project, program or organization or have a great idea for helping your community? Do you need $500 to further the growth and success of your program or turn your idea into reality? If you answered, "YES!", you are eligible to apply for a Do Something Grant.

How many grants are you giving out and for how much?

Over the course of 2009 we will be giving out 52 $500 Do Something Grants. One a week for the whole year!

Eligibility Rules:

The applicant must be 25 OR UNDER.

The applicant must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen (You will be asked to prove citizenship and age if you win).

You can only win one grant from Do Something in a twelve month period (excluding the Do Something Award).

Do Something Grants can not be used to fund:

Travel Costs (If you are looking for grants to help you cover a travel abroad experince check out or
Individual Sponsorships
Shipping Costs
Individual School Fees (Do Something Grants are not educational scholarships)

Steps to Apply:

CREATE A PROJECT POSTING for your existing project.
*Helpful Hint: You will notice that the categories on the project posting are similar to those on the application. Your project posting is a public place for you to let others know about your project. Your application is private and what the judges see. Keep you project brief and concise in your project posting and go into more detail in your application.

The Application:

Our grant application questions follow Do Something's "Path to Change".You will need the following to complete your application:Required
A budget detailing how the $500 will be used
A recommendation from a non-family member
Optional (but recommended)
Links to photos and video of your project
Your project's website

How do I go back and edit my application?

You can edit your application by logging into, going to MY ACCOUNT (On the top right side of the site, right above the "Sign Up" box.

What criteria do the judges use when judging my application?

CLICK HERE to view our judging criteria

How do I find out if I won?

Do Something Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Once your complete Do Something Grant application is submitted your application will remain active for consideration for two months. Once your application is no longer eligible you will be notified by email. If you are chosen as a winner you will be notified by phone.

I am getting an error or "Access Denied" message when I try to apply.

If you are having trouble posting a project or viewing the application it is most likely because you have not verified your email address. When you created a log in for the Do Something site you were sent an email. In that email there is link to verify your email address. Check your junk mail. If you can't find the email or are still having trouble please submit a help ticket with our tech department. Ben, will get back to you pronto.*****

Having other technical issues? CLICK HERE Have non-technical questions? Email or WHEN INQUIRING ABOUT A GRANT, PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR USERNAME AND PROJECT LINK.


Community college seeks faculty member to teach Italian

As appearing in today's Daily Mail

by Mary J. Lewis
For the Daily Mail

MONTGOMERY, W.Va. -- Attracting foreign corporations to West Virginia takes preparation - for potential workers as well as prospective companies.

This includes language skills, said Matt Ballard, president and chief executive officer of the Charleston Area Alliance.

The alliance is teaming up with state colleges, including Bridgemont Community and Technical College in Montgomery, to offer courses including foreign languages.

Bridgemont is looking for an adjunct faculty member who speaks conversational Italian.
Yes, Italian.

Italian companies are interested in coming to West Virginia and others are already here, said Matt Earnest, executive director of Bridgemont's Workforce Development department.

He said several people have expressed interest in teaching Italian and that he expects a decision to be made this week or next.

Ballard said there are already three Italian companies located in West Virginia.

D.P.R.'s subsidiary in Charleston manufactures machines for the labeling industry. New Finishing Line is a subsidiary of Catalfer, a family-owned business that manufactures chemicals, tools and abrasives for the automotive, wood and marine industries.

New Finishing Lines in Charleston is responsible for warehousing and distribution of Catalfer's products throughout the North America.

Allevard Sogefi USA manufactures automotive components in Prichard. Its plant opened in 2004.

Ballard said there are other Italian companies interested in coming to West Virginia.

State companies need preparation too.

To that end, West Virginia University offers an export program that teaches state companies the skills needed to attract international business.

Over five weekends participants assess their export readiness skills and guides them through every aspect of exporting.

"If you're a company, you enroll in the class, send four or five students who analyze a market and figure out if it's a good fit for that company," Ballard said.

Classes will take place this year at the Charleston Area Alliance offices in Charleston on Aug. 7-8 and 21-22, Sept. 25-26, Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 13-14.

The alliance wants to stress the recognition that this is a global economy, Ballard said. The export course, among others, "offer businesses a leg up. That's kind of what we had in mind."
Even after a foreign company locates in the state there is work to be done.

The alliance can help tailor the language needs to a particular company, Ballard said.
He pointed out that there are 20 Japanese companies, including Toyota, based in West Virginia. Japanese and English for Japanese classes are offered on weekends.

"The whole idea is to give to the businesses a chance," he added.

International business has been good for West Virginia so far.

State companies' exports are up 41 percent from 2007 to 2008, Ballard said. The national average: 12 percent.

Friday, June 05, 2009

This is one of the many pieces of art available during East End Main Street's StreetWorks June 21.

Enterprise Celebrates with Grand Opening

The Charleston Area Alliance and East End Main Street are pleased to help host Enterprise Rent-A-Car's Grand Reopening celebration today at 11:30 a.m. The new building is complete.

The ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Danny Jones is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., and a short tour follows.

Lunch and beverages courtesy of Enterprise will be available starting at noon.

Enterprise is located at 1115 Smith St. across from the Alliance office and near Capitol Market.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Article appearing in today's Charleston Gazette:

Lane cites innovation as key to U.S. recovery

By Eric Eyre
Staff writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ray Lane came back to West Virginia Wednesday night and offered up a one-word prescription for bringing prosperity back to the United States: innovation.

Lane, a West Virginia University graduate and former president of computer software giant Oracle Corp., said America is slowing down on innovation.

"If we do not innovate to solve the problems we have now, we are destined to live in the past," Lane said during the Charleston Area Alliance's "Annual Celebration" at the Clay Center Wednesday. "If we do not maintain innovation and invent the next best thing, then we have a real problem."

Lane knows a thing or two about innovation. He watched Oracle Corp.'s revenue grow from $1 billion to $10 billion a year during his eight years as chief operating officer and president.

He now works for the venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, an early investor in Google and Netscape.

Lane cited a lack of innovation as a major reason behind General Motors Corp.'s financial troubles. GM filed for bankruptcy earlier this week. Lane criticized the federal government bailout.

"You as a taxpayer need to be mad, angry that you've put in $50 billion," Lane said. "Go into a showroom as see what that $50 billion has changed."

Lane, who serves on WVU's Board of Governors, identified three fields that offer hope for innovation: renewable energy, personalized medicine and digital mobility.

He said the U.S. isn't moving fast enough to solve the energy crisis.

Of the world's 30 leading companies that focus on renewable energy -- wind, solar and geothermal power -- only six are located in the U.S.

"We have a problem," Lane said. "I actually found more innovation in solar and wind in the Middle East than in the U.S. They're scared to death [in the Middle East] of the end of oil. They're using their money for investment."

Lane said he wanted to "see the coal industry innovate as much as anybody," and he highlighted a company -- GreatPoint Energy of Boston -- that's working to turn coal into clean-burning natural gas.

"It's pipeline quality natural gas," Lane said.

In the area of personalized medicine, Lane's venture capital firm invests in companies that help people to better predict and treat illness.

"When you walk into a medical facility, you want to say, 'I am unique,' and therefore I want the drug that suits me best," Lane said. "We are on the verge of huge breakthroughs in the next five years."

In the field of digital mobility, Lane predicted a strong future for mobile "smart phones," such as the iPhone.

"Nobody goes to the PC anymore to get on the Internet," Lane said. "It's all mobile. The phone now knows who you are. It's going to help you do what you want to do."

Also Wednesday, the Charleston Area Alliance economic development group handed out four awards to local organizations that promote "quality of life and excellence in the workplace." The winners were: Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam; Kanawha County Public Library; West Virginia Health Right and Capitol Market.

Reach Eric Eyre at or 304-348-4869.

Use Twitter and Facebook
to Participate in This Evening's Web 2.0 Workshop

Join us this evening at 5:30 p.m. for Generation Charleston's Web 2.0 Professional Development workshop and panel discussion at the Charleston Area Alliance, 1116 Smith St.

But even if you can't make it, tag your questions with #GC2.0 on Twitter. Or post them to the Facebook event wall.

Social media is changing the way we live and work. Join Generation Charleston for a panel discussion about the Web 2.0 concept and how you can grow professionally with these tools.

Speakers include:
Jason Blackhurst, software engineer, MATRIC
How can you build your own Web site?
Robert Coffield, member, Flaherty, Sensabaugh and Bonasso
What are the legal ramifications?
Kevin Hall, senior vice president, Charles Ryan & Associates
How can you manage your reputation, trust online contacts and respond to negative news or rumors on blogs and social networking sites?
Jason Keeling, consultant, Keeling Strategic Communications
What is the most effective way to blog and provide updates?
Lee Kraus, Mythology Marketing
How can you develop and market yourself professionally on the Internet?

The event is free. Call (304) 340-4253 for more information. Food and beverages are provided.

Work at the Gateway Greenspace site this week continues to progress. A fence surrounds the property, and the old parking sign is gone.

Stay tuned for more updates as Gateway Greenspace moves closer to reality!

This is one of the many pieces of art available during East End Main Street's StreetWorks June 21.

Click here to register.