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Posts filed under 'Economic Development'

Downtown Charleston Housing

The puzzle pieces to downtown Charleston housing are coming together.

Nearly ten years ago, a group of young professionals in Charleston met with the Charleston Area Alliance to discuss the region’s issues and needs. Downtown housing quickly rose to the top of their list and served as a springboard for the Charleston Area Alliance’s Generation Charleston. The group has continued to focus on the interest of downtown housing by hosting annual Loft Walks, which has grown to be one of their most popular events.

In 2013, downtown housing was thrust further into the spotlight as the City of Charleston, Charleston Area Alliance, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority and the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation joined forces to generate a citywide comprehensive plan and downtown development plan titled, Imagine Charleston. Part of that plan focuses on increasing downtown’s livability. The goal is to create an exceptional living environment in the urban core of Charleston. Significant improvements to the quality of public spaces and the perception of safety while incentivizing investments toward renovated and new housing developments would be essential.

With the Imagine Charleston plan underway, another downtown project was introduced. The EDGE project would bring about 35 new housing units to downtown. The project would serve as an impact incubator while simultaneously cultivating new leadership, reinvigorating our urban center and providing our businesses and institutions with a competitive edge in recruitment and retention, specifically of young professionals. The city of Charleston is spearheading this effort with the support of the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation and Charleston Urban Renewal Authority.

Housing is one of the Charleston Area Alliance’s major action items as it takes the lead implementing the downtown redevelopment portion of the Imagine Charleston plan. The Alliance recognized the need for additional research on Charleston’s housing market. A housing study was completed in May with funding assistance from the Governor’s Community Partnership Program, the Kanawha Valley Council on Philanthropy, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority and the city of Charleston. Bowen National Research provided a comprehensive market study of both rental and for sale housing for not only downtown but the entire city.

The report included an overview of the history and general characteristics of Charleston, an analysis of more than 100 demographic and economic metrics, findings from nearly 30 community stakeholder interviews, a rental housing survey of 46 multifamily apartments with more than 3,090 units, a for-sale housing gap analysis for various income segments in Charleston and an overview of other housing factors that influence the housing market.

The report states, based on demographics, Charleston will likely require 400 more housing units consisting of small unit types (two-bedroom or smaller), and units that meet the needs of higher income households and Charleston’s aging population.

The housing supply factors note the multifamily apartment rentals in downtown Charleston is at 100 percent, which indicates a housing shortage. The entire city is at 99.7 percent. Generally, an occupancy level over 97 percent is an indication of a housing shortage which can lead to housing problems. There is a residential development opportunity for downtown Charleston.

Houses in downtown Charleston have sold at double the price per square foot compared to the city as a whole. Available downtown housing according to the Multiple Listing Services data shows houses listed at a median list price of $231,000 as compared to the city of Charleston median list price of $164,600. It is important to note that the total square footage of houses in downtown is much smaller than those in the city at large.

The pricing and performance of recently sold housing units in downtown compared to the overall city indicates a healthy for-sale housing market in the downtown area.

Charleston Area Alliance understands there are significant hurdles our community needs to overcome to bring more downtown housing development to life. We are committed to better understanding the hurdles and will work to address them with available resources.

For more information please contact Susie Salisbury, VP Community Development, Charleston Area Alliance at 304-340-4253.  A full copy of the report is available at CharlestonAreaAlliance.org, Community Enhancement-Current Projects.

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admin in Community Development,Economic Development on July 06 2015 » Comments are closed

Charleston Area Alliance welcomes Bridgeport Equipment & Tool

ALLIANCE_color~verticalIn January 2013, the Charleston Area Alliance began a journey with Bridgeport Equipment and Tool, as the company sought to grow their business in the Kanawha Valley.

Bridgeport Equipment & Tool began in 1995 and have seven successful locations. The Alliance began its work with the company by visiting their Marietta, Ohio location.

Once the Alliance staff had a grasp on the size of facility desired, along with other business needs, we identified and showed the company several sites throughout Kanawha County.

As with any site selection, the company narrowed their search to a few key locations and ultimately, as was reported in the Charleston Gazette earlier this week, they selected the former IGA grocery store site off the Davis Creek exit of Corridor G.

The site provides perfect visibility for the business. The company offers products like John Deere tractors, Stihl chain saws, footwear, clothing, mine gear and John Deere toys and collectibles. The company also offers a full line of equipment rentals.

Bridgeport Equipment & Tool operates stores in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

“What struck me about the facility upon my first visit to their Marietta store was the variety of products offered,” said Matt Ballard, president and CEO of the Charleston Area Alliance.

“The equipment is there, but added to that, it’s a shop with boots, gear, trimmers, tillers, gun cabinets, chain saws, brush cutters, augers… you name it they have it. They even have equipment related toys for kids. You want a die cast tractor, they’ve got it.”

As the company narrowed their search, the Alliance was pleased to work with South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens, local real estate brokers, construction businesses and many others.

The Alliance is the economic development organization for the Kanawha Valley. We work to bring new businesses to the area, like Bridgeport Equipment and Tool, and to help businesses already in the Valley to sustain and expand.  The Alliance helps grow jobs, incent new capital investment, and diversify the tax base of our region.

The Alliance will continue to work with this company and many others to help them thrive and grow.

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admin in Announcements,Economic Development,In the News on January 22 2015 » Comments are closed

A message from Alliance Chairman Pat Bond & President/CEO Matthew Ballard

ALLIANCE_color~verticalAfter hosting eight events in six days, the Charleston Area Alliance was busy last week, to say the least.Whether enjoying music at the Brown Bag Concert or touring loft properties across the city at Loft Walk, we hope you had the opportunity to participate in one of the many events held by the Alliance and Generation Charleston, our young professionals program.

We understand that connecting the dots between the many grass roots programs taking shape across the Kanawha Valley to the Alliance’s overall mission can sometimes seem a challenge. However, we can ensure you that every Alliance program and its initiatives are driven by one force: Vision 2030.

In 2011 more than 400 local stakeholders gathered to collaborate and develop the Kanawha Valley’s 20-year strategic plan, known as Vision 2030. After months of hard work and planning, a forward-thinking roadmap designed to inspire an economy that provides sustainable jobs for Kanawha Valley residents, while meeting future megatrends, was born.

Using the roadmap as a guide, the Alliance has organized Vision 2030’s initiatives into seven drivers: Workforce/Education, Innovation/Research and Development, Leadership, Health, Energy Industry, Chemistry and Downtown Revitalization.

Thanks to hard work and extensive planning, nearly every Vision 2030 driver was supported during last week’s events.

We kicked off the week on Monday, Sept. 15 with the Alliance’s annual Golf Scramble. The event was held at Berry Hills Country Club and helped raise money to support the Alliance’s economic and community development initiatives, which in turn supports all seven Vision 2030 drivers.

Also on Monday, Generation Charleston kicked off its Urban Living 2014 week with the Homebuyer’s Blueprint at the Four Points by Sheraton on Kanawha Boulevard. At the event, young professionals got the tools and tips to buying their first home.

Helping young professionals take the leap into home ownership will support greater investment in our communities and downtown development. Housing and specifically “downtown housing,” remain the number one interest for young professionals in the Charleston Area.

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurs (SAGE) welcomed participants of the farmer-training program and volunteers to Rebecca Street on the West Side to plant an urban orchard. In a few years, the orchard’s trees will be producing apples, pears, apricots and more.

SAGE teaches participants how to grow sustainable produce in urban spaces across Charleston. The program, which supports the Downtown Revitalization, Innovation and Health drivers, helps urban farmers learn how to sell their produce as a reliable form of income.

Much of the produce grown is sold at the East End Bazaar on Saturday and used locally by several eateries and restaurants, including Alliance member Mission Savvy.

Also on Tuesday, more than 200 people attended the downtown Loft Walk. The walk, which was part of GC’s Urban Living 2014 week, showcased the available lofts for sale in the Four Points by Sheraton and more.

This is the seventh straight year Generation Charleston has hosted the event, which focuses on downtown housing options. The Alliance continues to encourage developers to invest in housing appropriate for young professionals and families who want to live in the downtown area.

The Alliance was excited to attend the grand reopening of Edible Arrangements in South Charleston on Wednesday, Sept. 17. The new owners met through Generation Charleston, which supports the Vision 2030’s Leadership driver.

At Appalachian Power Park on Wednesday evening, Katie Rugeley, owner of The Initialed Life LLC, defeated seven other businesses at “Thrive,” the Alliance’s annual crowdfunding event. Rugeley’s business specializes in custom monogrammed and embroidered items. She was among eight local entrepreneurs competing for over $4,000 in crowd-funded seed money.

Supporting Vision 2030’s Innovation driver, community members paid $20 to attend the event, listened to the entrepreneur’s sales pitch and acted as investors by voting on their favorite business idea. Rugeley plans use the money to invest in a second commercial embroidery machine to meet sales demand and hire a second employee. Providing a source of seed capital for start-ups is one way the Alliance is assisting small businesses.

ArtWalk, a monthly evening event supporting Downtown Revitalization, drew hundreds of attendees on Thursday, Sept. 18. The September ArtWalk showcased a variety of artists working in a myriad of media ranging from watercolor to coal sculptures. This event encourages the support of local artists, art galleries and other downtown businesses.

Local professionals were encouraged to get out of the office and enjoy live music at Davis Park in downtown Charleston during their lunch break on Friday, Sept. 19. The Brown Bag Concert was held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with musical performances by West Virginia State University’s Jazz Ensemble and St. Albans High School Marching Band. Several local Alliance member restaurants sold lunches during the downtown event.

We’re excited to bring the Kanawha Valley innovative programs and events to encourage greater economic development, community engagement, innovative entrepreneurial activity, healthy food initiatives and more.

We know that none of this would be possible without the support from our members and community leaders.

We’re eager to continue down the Vision 2030 path with you and advance the Kanawha Valley as a vibrant place to live and work.

To learn more about the Charleston Area Alliance or ways to get involved visit www.charlestonareaalliance.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Downtown ArtWalk,Economic Development on September 23 2014 » Comments are closed

Alliance going back to the garden

SAGE Build OutAt the Charleston Area Alliance, we are going back to the garden to nurture our region’s economic and public health.

What may appear to be a large vegetable garden on Charleston’s West Side is in reality the epicenter of a multipronged economic development initiative to train prospective urban agriculture entrepreneurs, or “agripreneurs.” Through the Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurs (SAGE) program launched last spring by the Alliance, participants receive education and training in farming and business practices that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

On Thursday, Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), met with members of the Alliance to discuss the burgeoning local foods movement in West Virginia. Gohl said the state is emerging as a leader on this front. Since 2005, the number of farmers’ markets in West Virginia has more than tripled, from 30 to 93, according to an Associated Press article published this week. (Feds say West Virginia’s local foods movement may become model for Appalachia)

Gohl said that public health officials support the local foods movement because it allows easier access to healthy foods, vital in a state with high rates of obesity, diabetes and cancer.

Sustaining and expanding local agriculture can play a big role in diversifying our local economy and improving the health of our citizens.

West Virginia’s food economy is worth $7 billion, but only $6 million stays in the state. Efforts like SAGE help keep that money here and encourage healthier lifestyles. If we can sustain and capitalize on this local foods effort, our state and its citizens will benefit for generations to come.

PS: Without the support of visionary businesses and individuals, programs like SAGE could not blossom. We invite you to plant the seeds for a brighter future with a contribution to the CADCO Foundation, our charitable arm. For more info or to make a donation, contact JoEllen Zacks HERE

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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Economic Development,SAGE on May 24 2013 » Comments are closed

Travel with the Alliance on its 2013 trade mission and cultural tour

Lake ComoI am very pleased to invite you to join the Charleston Area Alliance on its fourth international trade mission and cultural tour.

Our 2013 destination is northern Italy, where visits include the city of Varese, the northern Italian lake region, Milan, Parma, Florence (with a touch of Tuscany) and Venice.

Click HERE for the trip brochure.

Whether you are interested in working with the Alliance staff to create a personalized business itinerary, or simply wish to learn more about these culturally rich regions, you will find this trip exceptional.

Please join fellow Charleston Area Alliance members and friends as we journey together to Italy next spring.

For questions, contact Jeri Adkins by e-mail HERE or by phone at 304-340-4253.

We look forward to seeing you in 2013!


Matthew G. Ballard

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admin in Announcements,Events,In the News,International News on December 17 2012 » Comments are closed

Imagine Charleston Open House to be held Sept. 18 at the Capitol

Join Imagine Charleston on the capitol grounds for an open house next Tuesday, Sept. 18, anytime between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The group will be in the Culture Center’s Great Hall with an update on what they’ve been working on.  Imagine Charleston: “Your dream. Our future.” is designed to maximize citizen input about the future of Charleston in terms of buildings, potential projects, the nature of neighborhoods, transportation, attractions and more.

A 15 minute presentation will be made at 4:30 p.m. and again at 5:45 p.m.

They need your feedback. Are they on the right track? Have we heard you correctly? Let’s Imagine Charleston!

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admin in Community Development,Economic Development on September 11 2012 » Comments are closed

Thrive videos released; Cast your vote for the winner on Sept. 19.

For burgeoning entrepreneurs, cash capital is the lifeblood of their business.

Now with Thrive, the Charleston Area Alliance’s new crowdfunding initiative, startups have a chance to receive an infusion of cash through fresh and innovative means. Earlier this month, a blind panel selected nine Kanawha Valley-based entrepreneurs with 30 or fewer employees out of a pool of applicants. These entrepreneurs each produced 60-second pitch videos to promote their business and need for crowd funds.

On Sept. 19, an event will be held at DigiSo at 1506 Kanawha Boulevard West starting at 5:30 p.m. To attend and participate in the event, community members will pay $20 a ticket. In return, they will get to partake in beverages and food, but more importantly, they get to vote for the entrepreneur  that they want to support. At the end of the night, the entrepreneur with the most votes will receive $20 times the number of attendees as cash capital to invest in their business.

The fund will also be seeded with $1,000, through generous support of Vision Shared and Industrial Bolting. Other partners in Thrive include the Arts Council of West Virginia, Create West Virginia, DigiSo, Generation Charleston and BB&T.

You cannot vote for a winner, unless you attend the event.

To sign up and attend the event, please click HERE. Tickets will also available at the door and cash is preferable.

In the meantime, please check out the videos of the nine entrepreneurs below and this cast your vote for a winner on Sept. 19 at DigiSo. Share the video that you think is the best with your friends, colleagues and social network!
































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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Economic Development,Events,In the News on September 05 2012 » Comments are closed

A Message From Our President & CEO: New jobs for the Kanawha Valley

The Charleston Area Alliance applauds the recent news that TRG Customer Solutions is creating 130 new jobs and filling 195 vacant positions in three centers throughout the state.

The announcement was made by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office on Monday. TRG is a leading global business process outsourcing provider of customer management solutions and technologies.

We’re proud that Gov. Tomblin announced another expansion at a successful development that the Alliance helped cultivate 17 years ago.

BIDCO, which was one of the Alliance’s predecessor organizations, assisted the West Virginia Development Office and Bell Atlantic of West Virginia in recruiting TRG to the Charleston area. The Alliance also aided the company in the selection of its current Southridge Business Park location.

The 24,911-square-foot first facility opened in 1996 and was the first company to locate in the business park. Though the company has changed hands, we like it when our projects bear fruit for decades. Over the years, TRG has added hundreds of new jobs and further expanded its facility.

TRG boasts a broad knowledge of several industry sectors, including the automotive, health care, insurance, pharmaceutical and retail sectors. It offers voice and non-voice communications, along with data analysis. The company’s technological capabilities include intelligent call mapping, emotional response management and universal agent contact.

We are proud of this project and are proud of the many years we have worked with TRG. The Alliance is encouraged by its continued growth and investment in the Charleston area. It’s yet another step in creating a more vibrant community and prosperous economy.

Until next time,

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admin in Announcements,Economic Development on August 28 2012 » Comments are closed

Alliance announces GROW inaugural class

Nineteen fledging businesses have been selected for the inaugural class of GROW, a start-up bootcamp program launched by the Charleston Area Alliance.

GROW participants will attend educational sessions hosted by the University of Charleston Graduate School of Business, receive coaching from experienced WV Small Business Development Center business coaches and become part of a peer discussion group where they can discuss the everyday benefits and challenges associated with owning their own businesses.

GROW members will also receive access to free advising from business professionals in an array of fields including legal, accounting, banking, graphic design, and human resources.

The businesses involved in the inaugural GROW class are:

GROW is an initiative of Vision 2030 and sponsored by the Benedum Foundation.

“The Alliance understands how important entrepreneurs are to our economy and business climate,” said Alliance President/CEO Matt Ballard. “Programs like GROW are essential to our ongoing mission of creating jobs, enhancing our community and investing in people. We believe the progress of these entrepreneurs will help create jobs and drive us forward to the future.”

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admin in Announcements,Economic Development on August 24 2012 » Comments are closed

“Imagine Charleston” now on Facebook and Twitter

Imagine Charleston: “Your dream. Our future,” the City of Charleston’s new imaginative and creative visioning and planning process, has launched Facebook and Twitter pages. Learn more about the project, which was designed to maximize citizen input about the future of Charleston in terms of buildings, potential projects, the nature of neighborhoods, transportation, attractions and more.

Check out the Facebook page HERE.

Check out the Twitter page HERE.

Also, check out the Imagine Charleston website HERE.

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admin in Announcements,Community Development,Economic Development on April 04 2012 » Comments are closed

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