Daily Archive for August 25 2011
Marcellus and the Charleston Area Alliance
The Charleston Area Alliance is focused on maximizing job creation, economic diversification, building the tax base, and keeping the value of the Marcellus Shale to benefit West Virginia and her citizens. One of the most interesting parts of the Marcellus discovery is that the deposit is rich (or what some call “wet”) in ethane. The percentage of the whole that ethane represents of the different types of gases extracted in the Marcellus (others being methane, propane etc) can be as high as 15-20%. Ethane can be converted into Ethylene which is a building block of many other products we all use on a daily basis.
You have likely heard about the Charleston Area Alliance efforts to attract an ethane “cracker” to West Virginia and specifically the Kanawha Valley, where ethane would be converted to ethylene. Such a facility would cost upwards of $1-2 billion dollars to build, creating approximately 2000 construction jobs in the process. Once operational, the facility would likely employee approximately 750 full time employees. Additionally, an ethane cracker would create new feedstock for the region which would likely attract more new manufacturing facilities to locate nearby.
In a recent radio interview, Charleston Area Alliance President and CEO Matthew Ballard talks about the Marcellus and the ethane cracker in part one of this radio interview (more to be posted later):
Check out this article from the Charleston Daily Mail:
State exports jump 43 percent in first half of 2011
by George Hohmann
Daily Mail Business Editor
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s exports soared 43 percent in the first six months of 2011, led by coal, the state Department of Commerce announced.
Exports for the first half of the year totaled $4.4 billion, up from $3.1 billion during the same period a year ago, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
West Virginia outpaced the U.S. growth rate of 18 percent in the period.
The state’s first half results indicate West Virginia is on track to meet or exceed last year’s record level of exports, the state noted. West Virginia’s exports totaled $6.4 billion in 2010.
Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a prepared statement, “West Virginia businesses large and small are succeeding in worldwide trade. Exporting is essential to our state’s continued economic growth. International sales help to create and retain jobs in West Virginia. We encourage our businesses to explore this potential for growth.”
The state’s top five export sectors and the amount exported in the first half of 2011 were: coal, $2.6 billion; plastics, $575.1 million; machinery, $372.4 million; medical products, $126.9 million; and organic chemicals, $119.6 million.
The fastest-growing sectors were: coal, up from $1.33 billion in the first half of 2010 to $2.56 billion in the first half of 2011 – a 93 percent increase; plastics, up 18 percent; medical products, up 44 percent; and aerospace components, up 18 percent.
Several coal companies with mines in West Virginia have been focusing on metallurgical coal, which is used in steelmaking. It commands a significantly higher price than steam coal, which is used to generate electricity. There have been reports that steam coal exports also have grown.
Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said, “We’re shipping coal to India and China, and some countries, including Germany, are closing their nuclear power plants and going back to coal generation. You would think that would be a real message to this country.”
Raney called the export figures “fabulous news for everyone in West Virginia.
“It converts to revenues for the state, keeps the miners working, and the real puzzling thing is all these other countries are wanting our coal and wanting us to mine coal, yet we can’t break the federal permit logjam,” he said.
“One would think that the federal government would try to do everything possible to keep this positive economic activity going forward, when you’re trying to rebuild America.”
West Virginia’s top trading partners, as measured in dollars, during the first half of 2011 were: Canada, Brazil, India, Netherlands, Italy, Japan, China, Ukraine, United Kingdom and South Korea.
The data can be somewhat misleading. For example, the Netherlands is listed as a top trading partner but it has a big port and products that go there often end up somewhere else in Europe.
The state said more than 17 percent of all manufacturing jobs in West Virginia depend on exports. The total number of jobs in West Virginia that rely on exports is hard to estimate.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has estimated that every $1 billion in exports creates 15,000 jobs, but the number may vary widely by industry.
The state has been keen on promoting exports for many years. The state Development Office’s International Division maintains trade offices in Munich, Germany, and Nagoya, Japan. The division provides consulting and other services aimed at helping West Virginia companies build international business relationships.
Additional information about the state’s programs is available by visiting the division’s website at www.worldtradewv.com or by calling Debra Martin at 304-957-2042 or Caitlin Ashley at 304-957-2014.
Contact writer George Hohmann at busin…@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.
Check out this article from The Charleston Gazette:
WOWK-TV’s move to Charleston may create jobs, owner says
By Eric Eyre
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — WOWK-TV’s decision to move most of its staff out of Huntington and consolidate operations in Charleston won’t lead to any job cuts, said Bray Cary, who heads the company that owns the television station.
“If anything, we’ll probably be expanding our news staff,” said Cary, president and CEO of West Virginia Media Holdings.
By March, WOWK plans to move about 50 employees from its building in Huntington to a 15,000-square-foot office connected to the Charleston Town Center Mall, Cary said Tuesday. The office sits beside BrickStreet Mutual Insurance’s headquarters.
WOWK already has about 50 employees at another office in Charleston, Cary said.
He said he and station staff members spent two months discussing the consolidation.
“We were trying to figure out how can our news organization grow our ratings and deliver the best product,” Cary said. “Everybody said we needed to get under one roof. It’s just more efficient management to have everything in one building.”
Staff members wanted to move to Charleston because it’s the political hub of the state, he said.
“We really believe Charleston is an ideal location,” said Cary. “It’s the crossroads of the region and the state. We wanted to be in the capital city.”
Staff members were notified about the move last week.
Cary said some WOWK-TV employees who live in Huntington — especially those who live west of the city — would likely be disappointed by the move to Charleston because of the long commute. A majority of employees supported the change, he said.
“We’re moving all the studios and everything to Charleston,” Cary said. “We’re just trying to get together so we can create a more robust product.”
WOWK-TV plans to lease the new office space at 400 Quarrier St., beside the mall.
“We can design it to really reflect the new technology and other things that are important,” he said.
The station will close its existing Charleston office at 13 Kanawha Blvd. W. after its lease expires next year, Cary said.
WOWK plans to sell its building in downtown Huntington. The property hasn’t been listed, and the company hasn’t determined an asking price, Cary said Monday.
A small number of employees will remain in Huntington, Cary said.
He said WOWK’s move follows similar consolidations of Huntington and Charleston staff by competing local television stations several years ago.
WOWK-TV employees believe the move to Charleston will help boost ratings, Cary said.
“Our employees are hungry to win,” he said. “The decision was based on how can we be the No. 1 station. Our people believe this move will create that opportunity and give them the tools to win.”
Earlier this month, WOWK-TV announced that longtime news anchor Sandra Cole was leaving her job. Cole had worked for the station for 17 years.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice…@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.