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  1. West Virginia economy to benefit from energy prices in spring, hiring and supply chain improvements to continue

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     CLARKSBURG — As spring approaches, business officials have called for a promising outlook for West Virginia’s economy in the next few months.

    Growth is expected across the board, but Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, notes energy sector growth in particular.

    “We are expecting broad-based growth in West Virginia. Energy prices are up and probably going to continue going up, and West Virginia is our nation’s fifth largest energy producing state, so when the price of energy goes up, that has an impact on our economy in WestVirginia,” Roberts said.

    “So we sell more energy and sell it at higher prices. We’re expecting to see improvements in the energy markets, of course,” he said.

    Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that energy costs relating to electric have gone up 8% in January compared to a year ago and were at the highest rates in the last decade.

    Prices for utility gas, or piped gas, have gone up by nearly 30% from last year, also the high estrate in at least 10 years.

    More growth is expected as the weather improves, leading to more jobs being added to the workforce.

    Some of these jobs will be in construction as infrastructure improvements begin.

    “As we enter the fairer weather, construction will be brisk. We have all of the infrastructure issues that will be underway,” Roberts said. “We have nearly a half a billion dollars worth of infrastructure projects to get underway in West Virginia. This is going to create a huge number of jobs.” 

    The West Virginia Division of Transportation (WVDOT) has major projects planned for this spring including work on Interstate 70 bridges predicted to be finished this summer, according to the WVDOT’s website. 

    Other industries are looking to hire as well, such as service, retail and hospitality, officials said. 

    “We’re going to have a lot of additional hospitality industry jobs,” Roberts said. “Everything from restaurants to hotel and motel workers to gas station workers — those are all hospitality workers, and they’re going to be picking up. My guess is that we will see jobs numbers the likes of which we haven’t seen in 13-14 years.” 


    “I think there’s going to be a renewed push by retailers to try to staff up much earlier than they did,” said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co., which operates Meadowbrook Mall. “Quite honestly, it may be a situation where they’re starting to offer full-time positions, not just seasonal ones, just so they can make sure they’re able to keep their doors open at reasonable times.” 

    Increased hiring is likely as experts expect much more retail spending this spring. 


    “The manufacturers are excited, and the customers are excited, so I think you’re going to see a different twist to retail this year. We’ll keep our fingers crossed,” said Cathy Goings, owner of Wicked Sisters Boutique in downtown Clarksburg. 


    “With the extra money people will have, the retail industry is going to pick up. So we’re going to have the potential for a very strong period of economic gains in West Virginia,” Roberts said.

    While gathering materials for the spring/summer line at her boutique, Goings has noticed marked improvements in shipping speeds, which suggests that the supply chain has improved since the holiday season.

    “I just returned from an apparel show in Las Vegas, and I’m already receiving some of my merchandise. So I think the manufacturers are eager to get things back on course again,”Goings said.

    “So to me, they’re speeding up and expediting the shipping process. We’ve already started receiving a lot of our spring merchandise, and I’m currently in the process of revamping thestore to accommodate all the new merchandise,” Goings said.

    Others also note improvement in the supply chain and are hopeful the situation will continue to get better.

    “It’s been gradually improving for the past couple months, and I think that will continue to improve,” Bell said.

    “We are hearing that there are marked improvements,” Roberts said. “The challenges to the supply chain are less difficult than they were in the November and December period, so we’re hopeful. But we’re not prepared to say the supply chain problems have been solved and are over. We’re hopeful; we’re optimistic.”

    There is a strain of caution embedded within the optimism due to the possibility of unforeseen circumstances affecting matters, including recent and future global events.

    “It’s anyone’s guess how unrest that’s related to this Russian invasion and any actions that maybe China takes in response (could unfold) — it’s all speculative right now. But should that happen, it might throw a monkey wrench into the works in terms of supply chains,” Bell said.

    “I wouldn’t want to say that’s definitely going to happen, but it’s something that people might want to consider,” he said.

    Regardless, officials are confident that economic gains will be made this spring as the pandemic wanes.

    “With COVID coming to a much lower degree of infection, we’re going to have the tourism picking up,” Roberts said. “The sum total of the construction jobs, the additional activity in the energy sectors and retail spending — all of those things — add to that what should be a very good year for hospitality.”


    Original Article by Josiah Cork, March 7, 2022 on WV

    View the Original Article here

  2. Opportunity Zones – What You Need to Know…

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    New federal government tax program benefits investors who place their money into Qualified Opportunity Zones. But what is a Qualified Opportunity Zone (aka QOZs, O-Zones or OZs)?

    Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs) were created by Congress in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in order to spur investment into distressed communities around the country. Investors are allowed to place capital gains from the sale of stocks, real estate or businesses into OZ funds without having to pay taxes on those capital gains. This investment strategy is similar to 1031 exchanges except OZs allow the elimination of tax obligation whereas 1031s only defer tax obligations.

    If the investment is held for five years, a 10% exclusion of the deferred gain is realized; after 7 years that exclusion increases to 15%. After holding the investment in the fund for 10 or more years, the investor can realize a benefit of paying no taxes on the investment.

    To invest in an OZ, the investor must either:

    • Create a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund or
    • Invest directly into a QOZ fund where at least 90% of the holdings are invested into businesses located within a QOZ.

    OZ funds can invest in either real estate development or start-up/spin-off businesses whose primary office/place of business is located inside the boundaries of the OZ. In this article, we will focus on the real estate side of OZ investing. But imagine the tax savings if you invested into the next Amazon or Microsoft (located in an OZ) then cashed out after 10 years with no taxes due to the federal government.

    In West Virginia, 55 areas have been designated as Opportunity Zones over 30 counties. Regionally, parts of Morgantown, Fairmont, Clarksburg, Buckhannon, Elkins and a large portion of Taylor County have been designated as OZs. Click here for a map of OZs.

    In commercial real estate, there are a couple ways to invest into a QOZ. The goal of the program is to spur development into distressed communities; therefore one cannot purchase land under the QOZ program and just sit and hold the property. A developer can purchase raw land and make improvements to the land by developing a site where a working business entity is to be located. A developer can also purchase property with existing structures but must make investment into the property to ‘significantly’ increase the value of the property; significant is defined as at least doubling the value of the property.

    The details of the OZ fund program are fairly extensive. Please contact us at Black Diamond Realty or call your accountant or financial planner/advisor to further discuss the benefits of the OZ program.

    The properties below are Black Diamond Realty offerings that are available and located with an Opportunity Zone. Click on VIEW to learn more about each offering.


    220, 230 Beechurst Avenue (Investment) VIEW
    Gilmore Street Portfolio (Investment) VIEW
    1370 University Avenue (Investment) VIEW
    160 Fayette Street (Investment)
    767 Chestnut Ridge Road (Investment/Retail)
    1369 Stewartstown Road (Office) VIEW
    1399 Stewartstown Road (Office) VIEW
    1193 Pineview Drive (Office) VIEW
    1195 Pineview Drive (Office) VIEW
    2916 University Avenue (Office/Retail) VIEW
    1345 University Avenue (Land) VIEW


    Speedway Business Park (Land/Industrial) VIEW
    1200 Morgantown Avenue (Industrial) VIEW
    945 King Street (Industrial)
    1622 Speedway Avenue (Industrial)


    400 West Main Street (Office) VIEW
    609 West Main Street (Office) VIEW


    Railyard Development Site (Land)

    Helpful Links

    Opportunity Zone Funds

    IRS Website – Opportunity Zones

    Map of Opportunity Zones

    Get Up to Speed on O-Zones


    Article by Chris Waters, BDR Associate


  3. FBI’s headquarters project to bring hundreds of positions to Clarksburg facility

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    Hundreds of jobs are expected to be shifted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) facility in Clarksburg as part of the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project.

    The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing Wednesday morning to discuss that project with representatives of the FBI Finance Division and the General Services Administration (GSA) Public Buildings Service.

    “In the revised plan, there is a plan if consolidation occurs downtown, the CJIS Center in Clarksburg would have several hundred jobs moving into West Virginia,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said during the hearing. “That would be an important development for me, obviously, as that facility continues to grow and become more professional and more highly technological. We would welcome that prospect of having those employees move out into West Virginia, as many have moved there before and have realized the wild and wonderful live is a pretty good one out in West Virginia.”

    The FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project began as a means to replace the J. Edgar Hoover (JEH) building that the FBI has occupied since 1974.

    Richard L. Haley II, assistant director of the FBI’s Finance, Facilities and Real Property Division, said while the mission of the FBI has evolved, the building itself has not kept pace and is instead falling apart as evidenced by crumbling facades and deteriorating infrastructure.

    “This makes it difficult to address rapidly developing threats and collaborate across divisions and programs,” Haley said. “As an organization, we must be able to stay current with constantly changing technologies that make our jobs both easier and harder.

    “Simply put, the existing J. Edgar Hoover building is obsolete, inefficient, and faces a number of security vulnerabilities,” he said.

    Thus the current J. Edgar Hoover building would be demolished and the construction of a new building would occur on the same site.

    During the construction phase, FBI employees would relocate to “swing space,” such as the Clarksburg facility while the existing facility is under construction.

    In total, the FBI will be moving more than 2,500 positions — both employees and contractors — to its owned facilities across the nation, which includes not only Clarksburg but also Huntsville, Alabama, Pocatello, Idaho, and Quantico, Virginia.

    “It is anticipated that several hundred positions could be shifted to FBI facilities in Clarksburg, West Virginia and Pocatello, Idaho, while the remainder would be realigned to Huntsville, Alabama,” Haley said. “The FBI already has a substantial presence in each of these communities.”

    The FBI previously proposed a procurement that would have moved forward with constructing a new suburban facility, but upon a review of real estate costs and footprints, it was decided that demolition and reconstruction would be less costly.

    Together, the FBI and GSA began to review and seriously consider the possibility of staying at the current location, determining multiple advantages to doing so, including the property’s proximity other departmental headquarters, inspection facilities, utility plants, Metro lines and road and bus networks.

    Thus, a plan to rebuild on the site began. As part of the evaluation, three options were considered: a phased renovation of the existing building, a renovation of a fully vacant facility or a demolition of the current facility and construction of a new building on the site.

    “A phase renovation, we determined, would take 15 years, cost more money and deliver you a less successful product than demolishing and rebuilding a new structure,” said Daniel Mathews, commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service. “New construction allows us to build a facility that can house 8,300 people, instead of a smaller number in a renovated facility. In addition, new construction can mitigate security threats more effectively with tailored designs, newer materials and current construction techniques.”

    Overall, Mathews said, the demolition-rebuild allows for the facility to be built faster, cheaper and with less risk than a renovation.

    However, the demolition-rebuild is estimated to cost $3.3 billion and require 6 years to occupancy, which makes the relocation of employees to facilities such as Clarksburg’s CJIS vital.

    “These other sites that we have identified have been part of our physical portfolio for many years, and while the way forward includes enhancing the use of these sites, these sites are not new to the FBI,” Haley said. “The FBI’s long history at these locations suggests that the functions and staff realigned to those locations can be successful in performing mission operations.”

    Posted by Brittany Murray,