Posts filed under 'Economic Development'
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
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
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!
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!
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,
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:
- Alum Creek Book Binder
- B. Belle Events
- Bold Web Solutions
- Dressmaker’s Closet
- Earnest Demolition
- GiGi’s Bridge Road
- Innovative Events Consultation
- KCA Holdings
- Kinder Books & Tax
- Life Coach
- Ms. Groovy’s Café and Catering
- Quarrier Diner
- The Pink Chuck Studio
- West Virginia Cheer Academy
- White Law Offices
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.”
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.
The Charleston Area Alliance is pleased to share recent data indicating that the Charleston metropolitan statistical area has moved up 13 spots in the 2011 list of best performing cities by the Milken Institute.
Charleston finished at 48 in this year’s list. Milken’s best-performing cities index ranks U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth.
According to the U.S Census Bureau, MSAs are geographic entities defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for use by federal statistical agencies in collecting, tabulating, and publishing federal statistics.
The Charleston MSA consists of five counties: Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Lincoln and Clay.
To see the list and study results, click HERE.
The components for the list include job, wage and salary and technology growth. Milken rates 379 metropolitan areas in the list. Charleston was ranked in the largest metro category.
“The positive factors for our MSA included job growth, wage and salary growth. Where this study shows we have room for improvement is in the high-technology gross domestic product growth,” said Alliance President and CEO Matt Ballard.
“The Alliance is keenly aware this is an area needed for growth. That’s why we are working together to move the needle on technology progress along with our partners at the Chemical Alliance Zone, MATRIC, TechConnect WV, the WV Angel Investors Network and others.”
The Alliance acknowledges the hard work of all five counties, all the businesses within and community leaders that have helped our MSA achieve new levels of success.
We are confident that the efforts of our elected officials, community leaders and the Alliance to create jobs, enhance our community and invest in people, will help Charleston continue to climb the list.
Working together, the best is yet to come!
On Monday, Kureha PGA LLC opened the doors on its new specialty plastics facility in Belle. It was an event that attracted West Virginia dignitaries such as Sen. Joe Manchin, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The grand opening was the culimation of a three year journey for the company.
In 2008, Kureha announced its plans for construction inside the DuPont plant’s fence line in Belle. Also that year, the leadership team and engineering staff of Kureha, who were responsible for designing, constructing and operating the $100 million facility, made their professional home in the Charleston Area Alliance’s business incubator at 1116 Smith Street.
The Alliance partnered with the West Virginia Development Office and then-Gov. Joe Manchin to help recruit Kureha to the Kanawha Valley. Kureha is just one example of how the Alliance works to attract new jobs and investments, helps businesses accelerate profitability, launches visionary community and cultural enhancements and develops the talent and resources that promote success and opportunity for all.
The Alliance is proud to have Kureha call the Kanawha Valley home. We congratulate the company on its grand opening.
Interest loan rates reduced for manufacturing equipment. State hopeful it’s a catalyst for economic development.
From the 9/16/11 edition of The Charleston Gazette:
Manufacturing-equipment loan rates lowered
State hopes action spurs economic development
By Eric Eyre
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Economic Development Authority is lowering the interest rate on loans used to purchase manufacturing equipment in hopes of spurring companies to invest in their operations.
The Development Authority agreed Thursday to decrease its 10-year loan interest rate from 4 percent to 2 percent.
For years, the agency typically distributed about 20 loans a year to manufacturers wanting to purchase equipment at plants. More recently, the Development Authority has issued only about a half-dozen such loans a year.
“We’re not seeing a lot of new loan activity,” said David Warner, the development agency’s executive director. “We’d like to generate a little more activity.”
Statewide, West Virginia lost 1,582 manufacturing jobs in 2010, according to a West Virginia University study released earlier this year. Also, between December 2007 and May 2011, manufacturing employment in the state dropped by 14.9 percent — from 57,900 to 49,300 jobs.
Warner said the Development Authority would loan a maximum of $800,000 to each manufacturer. The companies would have to invest 45 percent of the total equipment purchase price.
The agency plans to make $10 million in loans available at the lower interest rate.
“We’re targeting equipment loans [only],” Warner said during Thursday’s board meeting in Charleston. “This would be for manufacturing equipment.”
Warner said the nation’s struggling economy and uncertain business climate probably have more to do with the drop in Development Authority equipment loans than the 4 percent interest rate.
Also Thursday, the Development Authority board:
| Authorized Collins Hardwood of Richwood to issue up to $2.7 million in tax-exempt bonds to expand its sawmill in Nicholas County. The company is upgrading its lumber finishing equipment, and building a new office.
“It will allow them to do more finishing work at their Richwood facility,” Warner said. “The past three years have been challenging for the wood industry.”
| Reviewed a preliminary “draft” audit of the agency. The Development Authority’s net assets increased by $4.31 million during the past fiscal year. Liabilities decreased by $2.27 million.
Board members said the agency received a “clean” audit, however, auditors identified issues that could affect the agency’s finances.
The repayment of a $5.2 million loan for improvements at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park isn’t certain, according to the audit. Previous audits in recent years also have mentioned the loan.
The Development Authority also had an unexpected $300,000 in expenses after the agency agreed to help pay to demolish the former Reichart Furniture building in downtown Wheeling. The state, which owned a 70 percent stake in the building, plans to sell the lot after demolition is completed.
| Authorized the refinancing of $14 million in bonds the state issued in 1999 and 2001 to pay for a new parking garage at the state Capitol Complex and a government office building in Huntington. The state wants to refund the bonds and issue new bonds because current interest rates are lower.
The amount of the expected savings wasn’t disclosed at Thursday’s meeting.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice…@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.