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West Virginia’s future as a leader in technology and innovation took a leap forward last Wednesday with the transfer of the former Dow Tech Park to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
It’s an important step in the Charleston Area Alliance’s technology-based economic development strategy. The creation of the new West Virginia Education, Research and Technology Park (WVERTP) is the culmination of the work of many partners over the past decade and represents a tremendous opportunity for our region and the nation.
Dow’s donation to the state has saved about 500 high-paying jobs with benefits. The average salary at the park is $81,900.
“The Technology Park employs citizens from 16 counties in West Virginia and two bordering states,” said Matt Ballard, the Alliance’s president and CEO. “The impact will only increase as the vision is realized over the next decade. That vision is to fully develop a diversified, multi-tenant research, development and commercialization park focused on energy, chemicals and related technologies for the advancement of education and economic development in West Virginia and the surrounding region.”
The WVERTP also offers the state a chance to build on the region’s unique competitive advantages through the promotion of collaborative innovation and entrepreneurial activity.
“The park, combined with other important assets stretching from Morgantown to Huntington, embodies a regional innovation cluster across the state,” Alliance Chairman Pat Bond said.
A regional innovation cluster (RIC), as defined by the Federal Economic Development Authority, is a “geographic concentration of firms and industries that do business with each other and have common needs for talent, technology, and infrastructure.”
“Being at the forefront of solving national issues, like energy independence, will create a more unique niche for our region and state, grow existing businesses and create new jobs and educational opportunities,” Bond said.
A new report conducted by Battelle, a multi-billion dollar organization with experience in similar projects around the globe, has confirmed the park’s possibilities. Battelle’s recommendations include using the inherent, indigenous strengths of the local region to capitalize on new opportunities.
“Leaders such as Sen. Joe Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the Chemical Alliance Zone, the Higher Education Policy Commission, MATRIC, the Kanawha County Commission and others had the vision and courage to back our mission and gather support for West Virginia’s future,” Ballard said. “They know advancing technology leads to job creation, and with the Technology Park, we have a fantastic opportunity to boost West Virginia’s technology economy.”
China may be the first mover in many important technologies, such as carbon dioxide capture, coal-based chemicals or new pharmaceuticals, according to Keith Pauley, president and CEO of MATRIC.
“Therefore, MATRIC has a deliberate strategy to engage with the leading companies and research institutes in China to work together to solve some of the most challenging problems in the world,” he said.
Over the last two years, MATRIC’s leadership team and representatives, including Mr. Pauley, Dr. Parvez Wadia, Dr. Madan Bhasin, and Dr. George Keller, have traveled to China three times to meet with Chinese companies.
MATRIC is building important relationships with major energy companies, such as Shenhua Coal and Kailuan Coal, chemical companies, such as Sinopec, and pharmaceutical companies, such as Double Crane Pharmaceuticals.
The coal companies of China have a stated goal to use the majority of their reserves to produce fuels and chemicals through coal-to-liquid technologies. One coal executive told MATRIC, “Coal is too important to burn for electricity. That is what nuclear power is for.”
MATRIC has significant chemical process development expertise that can be deployed to support future projects in coal-to-chemicals, carbon capture, advanced catalyst design, as well as generic pharmaceutical product manufacture.
Interested in building international connections? Consider joining the Alliance in April 2011 for its second business mission to China. Click here for details.
The West Virginia Education, Research & Technology Park, recently acquired by the state from Dow Chemical, now has a Web site at www.wvresearch.org/techpark.
Potential tennants can visit this site to learn more about the park’s history, capacity and potential.
The park’s unique and valuable facilities will make it an attractive location for companies and organizations in need of advanced technology, and many believe the park will become a research hub, employing thousands.
“I’m here because of the labs and facilities, so I’m happy they were able to save the Tech Park. I’m happy we’ll have more opportunities here. We’ll see more potential clients who need experimental facilities. We already have a lot of good people here, and now we can keep the existing workforce.”
Senior Chemical Engineer, MATRIC
Today, the Alliance reaffirmed its commitment to saving and expanding the South Charleston Technology Park as Governor Manchin hosted another meeting to discuss the details and logistics of accepting Dow Chemical’s donation of property and buildings at the site to the state.
The stakeholders are dedicated to making it happen. The Governor asked for support from the private sector and received this message from the Charleston Area Alliance: “We are the private sector and we fully support this project.”
The Alliance is speaking for more than 600 members and the business community as a whole when we pledge to continue to invest time, expertise and resources to realize the potential of the tech park. This project represents the region’s most significant economic development opportunity in decades. We stand ready to work with partners such as the Chemical Alliance Zone and Advantage to market the property and its assets, attract new companies to the site and help it become a research commercialization hub for the East Coast, as well as support MATRIC in its continued growth. Valley
We commend the Governor and West Virginia Higher Policy Commission Chancellor Brian Noland for their commitment to the “new” tech park and their diligence in gathering and analyzing the information needed to make a final decision on such a complex project. Through their determined leadership, West Virginia is working to set its own course for the future, rather than let others set it for us. Accepting the donation would be a major undertaking for the state, but the potential payoff is well worthwhile.
In media interviews before today’s meeting, several young MATRIC scientists said they would be forced to move from the region if the tech park closed. Five hundred jobs hang in the balance as the March 1 deadline looms, and we can’t stand on the sideline while the Charleston-Metro region stands to lose so many quality workers, particularly young professionals who represent West Virginia’s future.
But saving the tech park isn’t just about saving jobs — it’s about creating jobs. The facilities hold the promise of thousands more. We envision a globally-competitive innovation center where research is commercialized to meet global challenges and help West Virginia industry stay competitive in a changing world.
The Governor has affirmed his belief in the vision of such a center with a higher education component, a model that has been a blueprint for success in other parts of the country. Thanks to the Governor, Chancellor Noland, Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Paul Hill and others within the Governor’s staff, this vision is closer to reality.
The citizens of the Kanawha and of the state been instrumental in keeping this vision alive. More than 1,000 have joined a Facebook page urging leaders to take immediate action to prevent the demolition of the tech park. Nearly 900 more signed an online petition. In a grassroots effort that gained momentum practically overnight, they brought this project to the forefront of the state’s public policy agenda. Valley
We have much to do. We call on everyone committed to our future to continue to communicate and work together to maximize the potential of the world-class facility to bring innovation to the marketplace and create new opportunities for West Virginia’s coal, natural gas, chemical and other leading industries.
More and more people are seeing the vision. Working together, we will make it happen.
This FAQs list was created to address issues related to Dow Chemical Company’s offer to donate property at the South Charleston Technology Park to the State of West Virginia. We encourage you to learn more about the project and see what you can do to ensure that its potential is realized before it is too late:
1. Exactly what is Dow proposing to donate?
Dow has proposed and is willing to donate 258 acres of its technology park including fully outfitted laboratory buildings, pilot plants and infrastructure to the State of West Virginia.
2. Why does Dow want to donate this property?
As a publicly-traded global corporation, Dow has made strategic business decisions that have resulted in the downsizing of its research and development activities at the South Charleston site. The company incurs significant expenses each year to maintain buildings and property it no longer needs.
3. Is Dow leaving the technology park?
Dow would likely continue as a tenant in this park rather than a “landlord.” This donation does not impact the manufacturing facilities of Dow that are located off of MacCorkle Avenue in South Charleston. Those plants will continue in their operation.
4. Are there environmental issues on the portions that Dow will donate?
Comprehensive environmental studies have been conducted by several neutral parties and the data collected show no reason that the donation cannot occur.
5. Is Dow passing off its environmental liability to the state?
Under federal law, Dow is not permitted to “give away” any responsibility arising from potential environmental issues. (more…)
The Charleston Area Alliance, Chemical Alliance Zone and MATRIC Boards of Directors at 10:30 a.m. this morning will meet jointly to consider a resolution reiterating the importance of the South Charleston Technology Park to West Virginia’s future economic prosperity.
A donation by Dow Chemical Company of valuable buildings and land located at the technology park to the State of West Virginia is pending.
If realized, the project could generate hundreds if not thousands of high value jobs, make the region highly competitive in research and development and create new opportunities for West Virginia’s coal, natural gas and other leading industries.
I am pleased to share two important milestones with you today.
First, the Alliance would like to congratulate the NCO Group Inc. on its selection of the old Verizon building in downtown Charleston as the location for a project that will bring 165 jobs to our region. We are proud welcome NCO, which will be located adjacent to Gateway Greenspace and just blocks from the Alliance headquarters, to the neighborhood. The Alliance was honored to work with our colleagues at the West Virginia Development Office on the project and can only make these types of successes a reality with the support of the City of Charleston, Kanawha County Commission and our 600 business members and their 40,000 employees.
Second, I look forward to attending the Annual Meeting of MATRIC tonight at the Clay Center in Charleston. MATRIC is an organization that was conceived within the walls of the Charleston Area Alliance, nurtured in our small business incubator and received its initial seed funding and working capital loan from the Alliance. That the Alliance took these extraordinary steps is a testament to the value we place on our community’s intellectual capital. In the past, this intellectual capital was housed in the R&D and commercialization departments of some of the largest chemical companies in the world. Today it is housed in MATRIC.
How has MATRIC impacted the region? It has kept or attracted approximately 70 employees in and around the Charleston metro area. It has helped to develop several start up businesses with a goal on creating intellectual capital that can be commercialized. In simple terms, MATRIC is using innovation to create jobs and many of the applications being developed can have a direct impact on the future of the chemical and energy industries in West Virginia.
We want to congratulate MATRIC’s board and staff for their leadership and foresight.
Keep your eye on MATRIC. While challenges lie ahead for all of us in these uncertain times, MATRIC may very well be on its way to permanently being one of the major stakeholders in shaping the future of our region. We are proud to count them as a valued partner in our mission to build a more vibrant community and prosperous economy.
Until next time,
Matthew G. Ballard,
President / CEO
The article below appeared in today’s Charleston Daily Mail.
This evening’s annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center, also known as MATRIC, will showcase the nine start-up companies it has launched since 2004.
MATRIC was established five years ago as a nonprofit research institute to harness the brainpower that Union Carbide Corp. brought to the Kanawha Valley over the decades.
The nine companies MATRIC has launched “are solving some of the most important environmental and technical issues facing our state and nation, such as selenium in run-off from surface mines to treatment of water from natural gas wells,” Keith Pauley, MATRIC’s president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement.
This evening’s meeting will be in the Benedum Grand Lobby of the Clay Center.
There will be a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with presentations and awards at 6 p.m.
The start-ups launched by MATRIC are: