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.

Monday, June 08, 2009

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.


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