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Posts filed under 'Economic Development'

Charleston named as one of 2011’s best performing cities

Charleston Area AllianceThe 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!

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Charleston Area Alliance Congratulates Kureha on its Grand Opening

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.


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admin in Announcements,Economic Development on September 26 2011 » 0 comments

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.


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admin in Economic Development on September 16 2011 » 0 comments

Marcellus Shale and the Charleston Area Alliance

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):

 Ballard Radio Interview on Marcellus Shale Part 1




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Telling Your Story

In today’s competitive climate, offering a quality product or service at a fair price is only half of the success equation.

What sets the most profitable businesses apart is their ability to connect with customers. And that starts with a persuasive brand story.

For 25 years, MotionMasters, an award-winning multimedia company based in Charleston, has been helping organizations and businesses around the world reach – and connect with – target audiences through compelling videos, DVDs, commercials, print collateral, websites and streaming video.

Stories have the power to galvanize an organization around defined business objectives, says MotionMasters CEO Diana Sole Walko. “They can spark action, transmit values and foster collaboration.

“If you look back through history, the best and most memorable leaders are the ones who can communicate through story. Unfortunately, businesses are often the worst at that,” she observes. “They want to bombard you with facts and statistics about why you should purchase their product or service. But people are justifiably suspicious of that type of approach.

“Instead, tell them a story,” she says, “by explaining what those facts and figures mean and why they should matter to the customer.”

The Charleston Area Alliance is a good channel for sharing your story with potential customers and fellow business owners, says Diana.

“Early in my career as a business owner, I felt very isolated. I had questions about so many things, and didn’t really have someone to bounce issues or ideas around with,” she says.

Membership and active participation in the Alliance gave her the chance to interact with others facing the same challenges. “All these years later, I still have questions — and so do they…. We learn from each other. And that’s made us, and our companies, stronger.”

The Alliance offers a wide range of programs and services that help businesses and our community succeed.

“Membership has very practical, present value, like the ability to send your employees, or yourself, to training seminars, attend Business After Hours to mine new business, participate in Art Walks, etc.,” says Diana, adding that “for me, however, the real value of my membership is its future value — the community we can build by acknowledging no man is an island.”

At the Alliance, we’re proud to provide a forum for businesses to share their story, and we’d love to hear yours.

Join us at upcoming event and help create “happily ever afters” for you, your business and our region.

To see how the Alliance tells its story through video (many produced with the help of MotionMasters), visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/CharlestonArea.

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Alliance staff gets look at new training equipment for chemical industry

This past week Charleston Area Alliance staff were given a tour of new equipment being used to train for jobs in the Chemical Industry by faculty at the Kanawha Valley Community and Technical School.   Those enrolled in the Applied Process Technology program are now training on new equipment critical for maintaining our quality workforce in an industry that remains vital to our regional economy.

Should our region or our state be successful in attracting the investment of an ethane cracker facility, training programs like these will be even more important.  A chemical operator can make an annual salary of over $50,000 in the Kanawha Valley!


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Power Park to Host GC Night June 17

Generation Charleston is asking the region’s employers to send their summer interns and emerging leaders to Generation Charleston Night at Power Park June 17.

Let’s show them why Charleston is a great place for living, working and playing!

Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and the Power take on the Lakewood Blueclaws at 7:05 p.m.

Tickets are $15. The price includes admission, food (hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, pulled pork and more) and beverages (keg beer, soda and water).

Click here to pre-register. Tickets also are available at the gate.

Fireworks follow the game.

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BB&T CEO Predicts Steady Growth

This story appears in this morning’s Charleston Gazette.

By Eric Eyre
Charleston Gazette

The U.S. economy is “kind of sputtering along,” but that’s not a bad thing, BB&T CEO Kelly King told Charleston business leaders Wednesday night.

“That’s the way an economy has to rebuild itself during recovery, especially after a recession that was so deep and so broad,” said King, who heads the nation’s eighth-largest commercial bank.

Speaking at the Charleston Area Alliance’s “Annual Celebration” at the Clay Center, King said Americans shouldn’t expect a robust or “boomerang” economy during the next three to five years. Instead, he said, they’ll see slow, steady growth.

“What we need is jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said. “The recession is over. We are in recovery.” (more…)

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BB&T Chief Speaks at Annual Celebration

This story appears in today’s Charleston Daily Mail.

By George Hohmann
Daily Mail Business Editor

If the federal government hadn’t overreacted to the 2008 financial crisis, “which whipped the country into a panic frenzy, we would have survived fine,” said Kelly King, chairman and chief executive officer of BB&T Corp.

“Several big firms would have failed, we would have had 30 days of anxiety, then we would have moved on,” King said. “We would have had a tough recession,” but not a catastrophe.

King delivered the keynote speech Wednesday at the Charleston Area Alliance’s Annual Celebration. More than 400 business leaders from the region attended the event at the Clay Center.

Given that the federal government did create a panic, “there were days you could see the whole system collapsing,” he said. “Given that we were in that situation, you had to step in. In that context, TARP (the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which pumped money into banks, General Motors, AIG and some other companies) was a good thing. But it did not have to happen.”

Although TARP gave the banking business a black eye because people still refer to it as the bank bailout, “when the dust settles the whole TARP program may actually turn a profit,” King said.

The federal overreaction was unfortunate, King said, because “when you have a big panic and the government steps in, it so undermines the system. The system is built on confidence. Before this, we bankers were fairly well thought of. Right after this we were down there with the lawyers.” (more…)

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Alliance Hosts Celebration

The story below aired this morning on WCHS Radio.

BB&T CEO Kelly Kings say business leaders in Charleston and around the nation are key to the an economic recovery.

King was the keynote speaker at the Charleston Area Alliance’s Annual Celebration at the Clay Center Wednesday night.

Generation Charleston Co-Char Ryan White says growing business is exactly what Charleston Alliance does.

“The importance of this organization is to encourage business to come in and add jobs, and also build a sense of community,” White said.

The Alliance’s Vice President, JoEllen Zacks, says over the next year the group will work to bring even more business to Charleston.

“Try to recruit companies here, help the companies that already are here become more successful, and improve the quality of life for everyone that lives here,” Zacks said.

King says more jobs can be created as the U.S. comes out of the economic downturn.

White says the Alliance will try to attract companies to drill in the Marcellus Shale in Charleston.  Several sites around the state, including an area in Kanawha County, have been considered.  White says they will work to bring it to Charleston.

“Bringing an ethane cracker to West Virginia, and what comes with that, which is additional chemical industry,” White said.

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