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  1. Officials Celebrate Completion of Site Development for West Virginia AeroTech Park

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    Stakeholders of North Central West Virginia Airport recently celebrated the culmination of nearly 20 years of hoping and planning.

    Gov. Jim Justice — along with a host of local leaders and officials — participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of site development for the West Virginia AeroTech Park.

    “Without any question, always, the airports are the heart; they’re the lifeblood of the engine that makes everything go,” Justice said. “You think of what you’ve got going on here. It is off the chart; it is un-flat-believable what’s going on.”

    The AeroTech Park will house the airport’s new terminal building, an expanded taxiway, an enlarged parking lot and will provide ample build-ready land for the continued growth and development of the region’s aerospace industry.

    The park’s future site is now flat and level, but just a year ago, the stretch of land adjacent to W.Va. 279 was buried under approximately 3 million square feet of earth that officials called “the mountain.”

    Ron Watson, former Harrison County commissioner and former president of the Benedum Airport Authority, which governs the airport, said officials had long hoped to “move the mountain” to clear space for a new terminal building.

    “The mountain has always been something that we wanted to get rid of, but we never had the means, and we really didn’t have a good plan,” he said.

    “Before we could do the terminal, we had to get rid of the mountain. That was a long time in the making, and I am delighted to see the progress.”

    Airport Director Rick Rock, looking out over the crowd assembled for the ribbon cutting ceremony, thanked the public for always supporting the airport.

    “One of the finest lessons I learned when I started this job was to get the community to take ownership of it,” he said. “Right here is an example of a community taking ownership of it. I appreciate it — without you none of this is possible.”

    The site development project, handled by Wolfe’s Excavating, was seeded by a state-backed investment announced by Justice in August 2019 — a $10 million grant from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council and a $10 million loan from the state Economic Development Authority.

    On July 8, the Federal Aviation Administration announced the airport would receive a $15 million grant, the final element needed to greenlight the terminal’s construction.

    Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang, who sits on the Airport’s Special Projects Committee, said numerous individuals and agencies deserve credit for helping make the project a reality.

    “It was a matter of just getting everybody to the table one-by-one — whether that was the (Federal Aviation Administration), the (West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection), the state, the governor’s office, the Development office, just on and on — to realize what this project could do for North Central West Virginia,” he said.

    Construction of the terminal building is expected to begin next year, Lang said.

    “We should be started on the terminal, digging footers, in the spring,” he said.

    The expansion project is estimated to lead to direct contributions of more than $587 million to the state’s economy each year, according to economists at West Virginia University.

    The total economic impact of construction expenditures for the airport’s terminal expansion project is estimated to be $88 million, of which more than $55 million will be spent directly, and another $33 will be generated in secondary industries, according to analysis from the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

    The terminal expansion project is estimated to employ about 356 construction workers directly, and another 199 in supplier industries, for a total employment impact of 555 jobs.

    Growth at the airport is estimated to add an additional $16.7 million in expenditures in the local economy over 10 years. Counting secondary impacts, it’s estimated this spending will result in more than $28.5 million in total economic impact over the same 10-year period.

    Expansion on the airport’s campus is expected to allow for the addition of seven to 11 small-to-medium-sized businesses that will either expand or locate in the area, for a total of more than 1,300 new jobs.

    The airport is one of the main reasons North Central West Virginia is one of the state’s two primary centers for economic activity, according to WVU’s John Deskins.

    “This airport and this aerospace sector in Harrison County is one of the key, foundational pieces that is enabling North Central to be a standout region,” he said. “I think that’s pretty important.”

     

    Original Article by Charles Young on August 22, 2022 on wvnews.com

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  2. US Natural Gas Prices Spike To 14-Year High. Here’s Why:

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    New York(CNN Business)US natural gas prices have skyrocketed to levels unseen since 2008, a spike that threatens to offset the benefits of falling prices at the gas pump.

    Natural gas futures surged 7% on Tuesday to close at $9.33 per million British thermal unit (BTU), the highest closing price since August 1, 2008.

    Although natural gas futures cooled off a touch on Wednesday, they remain up about 70% just since the end of June. And natural gas is up a staggering 525% since closing at $1.48 in June 2020 when Covid-19 had shut much of the US economy down.

    The summer spike is being driven in part by high demand as scorching temperatures through much of the country force Americans to crank up the air conditioning. That in turn has chipped away at relatively low inventory levels.

    “We’ve had this perma-heat wave cooking the United States,” said Robert Yawger, vice president of energy futures at Mizuho Securities.

    As temperatures drop this fall and winter, the natural gas spike signals sticker shock for families. Not only is natural gas a leading fuel source for the electric grid, it’s the most popular way to heat homes in America.

    “Depending on the weather, it could be a challenging winter,” said Rob Thummel, senior portfolio manager at Tortoise Capital Advisors. “But not as challenging as in Europe. They are at risk of running out of natural gas. We aren’t.”

     

    Europe’s natural gas prices are seven times higher

    Europe’s natural gas crisis is being driven by its reliance on energy from Russia, which has slashed natural gas flows to Europe in response to Western sanctions.

    The European Union has been forced to lay plans to ration natural gas, a drastic step that will hurt families and businesses. Natural gas prices have skyrocketed so high in Europe that it threatens to send the continent’s economy into recession.

    For context, Europe’s natural gas prices are trading at levels equivalent to about $70 per million BTUs, according to Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. That is roughly seven times higher than prices in the United States.

    But that is little consolation to Americans grappling with high prices at the grocery store, clothing stores and at restaurants.

    Even as natural gas prices surge, oil prices have tumbled, helping to drive gasoline prices sharply lower. The national average for regular gasoline has dropped 64 days in a row, according to AAA.

     

    Exports pick-up to Europe

    Analysts say Europe’s natural gas crisis is contributing to the higher natural gas prices in America, although it’s not the main driver.

    “Higher global prices are trickling down to the US. Natural gas has become a global commodity with the emergency of LNG,” said Thummel.

    The United States has stepped up its exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe in an effort to mitigate the impact of the loss of Russian gas.

    “Every spare molecule we can find, we are shipping to the eurozone,” said Yawger.

    US natural gas production is lagging behind

    But the bigger issue for US natural gas is the fact that inventory levels are below historical averages, leaving the market with less of a buffer and driving up prices.

    “We entered this year at beaten-down levels and we never caught up,” Yawger said.

    Supply has failed to keep up with strong demand for gas. Thummel pointed to how US oil and gas producers are under pressure from Wall Street to spend less on expensive drilling projects and more on dividends and buybacks to shareholders.

    “We need more US natural gas production. The production levels are too low,” Thummel said.

    The good news is that higher prices should, eventually, incentivize more production. And investors are not betting today’s high prices will continue. The futures market indicates natural gas prices should be almost 50% lower at this point next year.

    Then again, very few people thought a year ago natural gas prices would be at 2008 levels. And yet here we are.

    Original Article by Matt Egan, CNN Business on August 17, 2022. 

    Read Original Article Here

  3. West Virginia Aerospace Industry Set to Take Off With Launch of WVU Small Satellite Center

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    West Virginia is now on its way toward launching the state’s second small satellite. A team from West Virginia University and the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium is poised to turn that achievement into a massive boost for the aerospace industry statewide by taking the first steps toward opening the West Virginia Small Satellite Center of Excellence.

    The SmallSat Center will work with businesses and other organizations to develop West Virginia’s second small satellite and to help those partners offer services and products to clients who want to fly experiments out to low orbit. As Melanie Page, director of the Space Grant Consortium, put it, “It’s like a ‘Field of Dreams’ for small satellites.”

    With the announcement of $911,708 in U.S. Economic Development Administration funding, that mission is a go.

    West Virginia’s first small satellite, STF-1, launched from New Zealand in 2018 and vastly exceeded the usual three-month lifespan for a SmallSat – it’s still up there, transmitting from outer space, more than 1,300 days later. When it came time to capitalize on STF-1’s success, Candy Cordwell, assistant director of the Space Grant Consortium, and Majid Jaridi, former director, envisioned the next SmallSat kickstarting and sustaining an entire industry for aerospace research, products and services in West Virginia.

    The EDA’s Assistance to Coal Communities grant goes to projects that advance economic diversification, aerospace manufacturing and STEM training opportunities in areas severely affected by the declining use of coal. In the case of WVU’s initiative, Page said the money will not only support the Innovative Orbital Test Array mission, or IOTA, in which a second SmallSat will be produced and launched as STF-1’s proof of concept, but it will also enable the opening of the SmallSat Center of Excellence.

    The Center will be a hub for small satellite research, development, testing, production and commercialization, and “truly an innovation incubator that meets the needs of an industry that meets the needs of customers,” according to David Martinelli, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, who has joined forces with Cordwell and Page to launch the SmallSat Center.

    “We’re going to be building satellites in West Virginia,” he said. “As soon as STF-1 was up there for 300 days, people started saying seriously that this is something we should be very proud of and try to capitalize on, and Candy Cordwell and Majid Jaridi came up with the concept of positioning space as an industry for West Virginia. STF-1 was built with West Virginia talent and West Virginia capability. I think that speaks to the likelihood of our success for step two.”

    Cordwell said she was thrilled about the project’s potential to kickstart an industry that will have Mountain State residents designing and building satellites destined for the stars.

    “This could enable West Virginia to participate in the rapidly growing commercial sector associated with the launch and operation of small satellites,” she said. “The very unique and exciting aspect of this project is that it brings academic, industrial and government partners together to initiate and foster a research center that will bring jobs and economic activities to North Central West Virginia.”

    Demand for small satellites is very much on the rise, Page added, with the global market expected to hit more than $3 billion a year and with a robust client base that include governments, companies and research institutions. The SmallSat Center will support West Virginia businesses in serving customers that could range from a telecommunications company to a national cybersecurity program or a research institute monitoring climate change. It will be those clients’ needs that help drive the design of the second-generation IOTA satellite.

    Like STF-1, the second SmallSat will be fitted with a flight computer, radio, solar panels and cells, a camera and other instruments for data detection and collection, as well as slots for the satellite’s payload — computer cards that carry the clients’ instructions to the satellite, whether they’re looking to use it to monitor space weather or enable in-car navigation systems.

    The IOTA SmallSat may be a three-unit cube satellite, like STF-1, with a form based around three 10-centimeter cubes, or it could be scaled up to a six-unit CubeSat. Or it might take a different form altogether, according to the feedback the SmallSat Center will hear from potential clients and partners.

    “Let’s say that a client came to the Center and said, ‘We’re really interested in a satellite that serves a certain need,’” Martinelli said. “What we may do first and foremost is put them in touch with one of our private partners in the state and say, ‘OK, here’s the company that’s ultimately going to build this satellite for you.’ Then we would work with that company to find out what needs to be done, to help them deliver whatever that commercial need is. Our role is to use our talents and facilities and opportunities to fill the innovation gaps to help a West Virginia company serve a client for a small satellite.”

    Martinelli relishes the fact that this project is equal parts science and industry, theory and practice.

    “What makes this special is that, although West Virginia currently has significant space-related activities, I believe this is the first one that’s truly commercial. West Virginia has research contracts with NASA and related agencies, but the idea of space commercialization and industry in West Virginia is new,” he said.

    “We’ve demonstrated we can produce space products in West Virginia. We now have to demonstrate that we can produce space products that have market value, so I want to make sure that from day one the innovation is very intentional in terms of bringing value to as many different industries as possible.”

    Cordwell said the SmallSat Center will create 15 new jobs immediately: five at WVU and 10 through the consultant company that will initially be contracted to offer small satellite simulation, design, manufacturing, deployment and management services to the team. Within three to five years, as the center becomes financially self-sustaining, she predicted that the high-wage staff positions will increase to more than 30 jobs in administration, business development, education and advanced aerospace manufacturing.

    Martinelli said he believes it won’t be long before West Virginia has a significant need for “computer scientists and engineers of all types – electrical and computer engineers, chemical and aerospace engineers, even structural engineers – as well as analysts, people who know how to work with data. That’s going to be a big part of it because ultimately the value of the satellite is usually data driven. Data is the ultimate product and many emergent companies here will need somebody who knows how to work with data, statisticians and analysts and modelers and mathematicians.”

    Page pointed out that, considering West Virginia lost 1,800 technology and science jobs between February and May 2020, making sure those aerospace positions are filled by skilled, trained West Virginians is part of the vision, too.

    “If you talk to anyone that’s in engineering or a STEM field, they say two things matter in terms of someone’s decision to follow that career path,” Martinelli said. “No. 1 is that you get to them early. No. 2 is that there’s somebody, maybe a family member or maybe someone else in their life, who works in STEM.”

    Martinelli acknowledged that too many youth in West Virginia lack one or both of those opportunities but said he’s passionate about engineering education and growth in STEM.

    “We’re going to use the SmallSat Center as an opportunity to hit that aggressively. I certainly will look at all possibilities to showcase what we’re doing to K-12 students,” he said.

    “This is the advantage of working with the University, the fact that it gives us not just our research capabilities, but the educational mission as well. We have our clean room and labs where the satellite will be assembled and components tested and so forth. I want to see a parade of students in there on elementary school field trips. I want to see young students going through the facility where they talk to engineers and foster interest in STEM careers.”

     

    Original Article by WVU Today on wvutoday.wvu.edu, July 20, 2022.

    Original Article Here

  4. Inflation hits another 40-year high. What does that mean for shoppers and the next Fed rate hike?

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    Inflation jumped again in June on a persistent climb in gas, food and rent costs, notching another 40-year high and likely solidifying the Federal Reserve’s plans for another big rate hike this month.

    Prices increased 9.1% from a year earlier, up from an annual rate of 8.6% the prior month and the largest gain since November 1981, the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index showed Wednesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated inflation would rise to 8.8%.

    On a monthly basis, consumer prices increased 1.3%, the largest such leap since 2005, compared with a 1% rise in May.

    “Ouch,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a research note of the latest surge in prices.

    Amid signs that inflation is poised to gradually ease, he, along with other economists, noted June likely marked its peak, though a similar pronouncement in the spring proved premature.

    Stock market reaction

    The report bolsters the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise its key interest rate by a hefty three-quarters of a percentage point for a second straight month as part of an aggressive campaign to curtail inflation.

    The development disappointed already dour investors. After the latest figures were released, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank by more than 300 points. The S&P 500 fell by 37 points, roughly 1%.  And yields on 10-year notes popped. In midmorning trading, they hovered at 3.03%.

     

    What is causing inflation?

    June’s surge again was led by gasoline prices, which increased 11.2% from the prior month and 59.9% annually. The good news is unleaded regular averaged $4.65 Tuesday, down from $5 a month ago.

    Grocery prices rose by 1% from May and 12.2% over the past 12 months. Both gas and food costs have been elevated largely because Russia’s war in Ukraine has disrupted global supplies of oil, wheat, corn and other commodities.

    In June, cereal prices rose 2.5% from the prior month and 14.2% from a year ago. Bread was up 1.6% monthly and 10.8% annually. Chicken costs increased by 1.5% from May and 17.3% yearly.

    There were some encouraging signs. Bacon prices fell 1.9%, its second straight large monthly decline. And beef and veal prices decreased 2.3%.

     

    Will food prices go down?

    Commodity prices have tumbled recently amid recession fears and ebbing consumer demand. That already has pushed down gas prices and set the stage for more moderate food price increases within months, says Wells Fargo economist Sam Bullard.

    Barclays economist Pooja Sriram, however, believes higher fertilizer costs for farmers could keep grocery prices fairly high throughout the year. Russia is the leading exporter of fertilizer and the Ukraine war has driven up the cost of that commodity as well as its chief ingredient, natural gas.

    Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy items, increased 0.7% in June following a 0.6% rise the prior month, That nudged down the annual rise to 5.9% from 6% in May, teh third straight monthly decline.

     

    What is rent inflation?

    Rent climbed 0.8% monthly and 5.8% over the past year as people who hunkered down with family members during the pandemic moved into their own apartments.

    There were some positive developments for summer travelers. Despite surging demand, airline fares fell 1.8% while hotel rates declined 2.8% but they’re still up 34.1% and 10% from a year earlier, respectively.

    There are hints that inflation will likely soften in the months ahead. Besides falling commodity prices, supply chain troubles are abating, wage increases may be moderating and retailers’ bloated inventories are triggering big discounts for shoppers.

    Also, consumer purchases have started shifting from goods to services, such as dining out and traveling, now that the pandemic is broadly easing.

    “This will be the last big increase,” Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics says.

     

    Does the report raise recession risks?

    Yes, at least to some extent. Higher inflation leads consumers to rein in spending, which makes up about 70% of economic activity, and could mean bigger Fed rate hikes, which would hurt borrowing. Bank of America says the report is consistent with its call for a recession in the second half of the year.

     

    Is this close to the worst inflation since World War II?

    Not really. In March 1947, inflation hit a dizzying 19.7%. The spike was rooted in effects from the end of the war — the elimination of price controls, supply shortages and pent-up demand, according to a White House blog.

     

    Original Article by Paul Davidson on usatoday.com, June 13, 2022

    Original Article Here

  5. Korean Drug Maker Pledges to Build Plant in Morgantown

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    MORGANTOWN W.V. – South Korean drug manufacturer UNDBIO has signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to manufacture insulin in West Virginia. The letter indicates there are plans to locate the facility at the West Virginia University Research Park in Morgantown.

    Mitch Carmichael, the Secretary of State for Economic Development of West Virginia and Yong Soo Jun, Chairman of UNDBIO, Inc. signed an MOU on May 17, 2022, with the state agreeing to provide fiscal, tax, and other incentives to promote the company’s production of insulin.

    “I am happy to establish our relationship with the State of West Virginia to manufacture affordable insulin and insulin analogues for the diabetic population around the globe,” said UNDBIO’s Chairman Jun. in a press release. “We would welcome other partners and investors into our global insulin project,” he said.

    The announcement comes with the hope that UNDBIO’s plans will come to fruition, resulting in 1,200 new manufacturing jobs in Monongalia County. UNDBIO plans to begin construction on the manufacturing plant during the second half of 2022, complete the plant in 2023 and manufacture clinical drugs for human clinical trials in 2024.

    Company officials met with U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelly Moore Capito who both have expressed support for the project.

    “UNDBIO has showcased their commitment to bringing long-term, good-paying jobs to West Virginia and as UNDBIO, WVU and state officials continue discussions, my staff and I are prepared to support these efforts to bring manufacturing opportunities to the Mountain State,” said Manchin.

    “The news of this agreement between UNDBIO and the State of West Virginia is a positive step forward in UNDBIO’s quest to manufacture insulin right here in West Virginia. While there is still more work to do to finalize this new facility, I stand ready to help to make sure this becomes a reality. I congratulate UNDBIO on this advancement and look forward to supporting them in their investment that could lead to creating more than 1,000 jobs in West Virginia.”

     

    Original Article by Dave Wilson on wvmetronews.com, June 8, 2022

    Original Article Here

  6. State’s Four Legislative Leaders Join Coalition to Bring Hydrogen Hub to West Virginia

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    MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s four legislative leaders joined the West Virginia Hydrogen Hub Coalition on Thursday, adding their voices to those working to bring a hub to West Virginia.

    The U.S. Department of Energy aims to establish four regional hydrogen hubs using Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act money, and one of them will be in Appalachia, the nation’s largest natural gas-producing region. The West Virginia Hydrogen Hub Coalition submitted its official response to DOE’s first step in the process to select winning hydrogen hubs on March 21.

    President Craig Blair (legislator photos submitted)

    On Thursday, Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. David McKinley jointly announced that Senate President Craig Blair, Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw and Minority Leader Doug Skaff joined the coalition.

    Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “We are thrilled to have the West Virginia legislative leadership join us in our efforts. With our abundant energy sources and strong partnerships, our state is uniquely situated to compete to develop a hydrogen hub. Our proposal showcases how West Virginia can continue to lead the country — and the world — in advancing energy technologies and bring good-paying jobs to the state.”

    Capito said, “West Virginia’s leaders — Democrat and Republican — are united around the potential we know is ready to be unleashed right here in our state when it comes to investing in and developing a hydrogen hub.”

    She told The Dominion Post on Thursday that DOE will likely have news on the selection process this summer. A presentation from Manchin’s office says hub selection is due in May 2023.

    Capito told The Dominion Post, “The best way to handle what we see in terms of the climate and the climate changing is to innovate and research. … A hydrogen hub would be one of those innovative avenues to a cleaner, greener and more powerful future.”

    Speaker Roger Hanshaw

    McKinley said in the announcement, “The Infrastructure Bill has given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to modernize infrastructure that will support a regional hydrogen hub. Which means West Virginia, one of the country’s largest coal, gas and oil producers, can lead an all-of-the-above energy strategy that leverages the state’s existing resources while developing next generation technologies that support good jobs and energy security for the U.S. into the future.”

    The other two members of West Virginia’s Congressional delegation, Republicans Alex Mooney and Carol Miller, voted against the infrastructure bill and did not participate in the announcement.

    The four legislative leaders also issued comments.

    Hanshaw said, “We are creating a new economy here in West Virginia, and we stand ready to do what we can to be sure the state is attractive to this project, as well as many others.”

    Leader Doug Skaff

    Skaff said, “West Virginia has a long history of powering this country and bringing a hydrogen hub to the Mountain State will allow our hard-working families to be a part of powering our great nation far into the future.”

    Blair commented, “As we look to expand our strategy and portfolio into the next generation, I look forward to us being leaders in energy technology.”

    And Baldwin said, “For the sake of our future, we need to be a more diverse and cleaner energy state. Expanding the hydrogen market here would allow us to create jobs, produce energy for our own citizens to use, and build a more-sustainable economy.”

    Blue hydrogen is produced by steam methane reforming, which requires burning natural gas to reform methane into hydrogen and carbon dioxide, from which they capture and sequester the CO2. A possible alternate, cleaner way to produce blue hydrogen is microwaves; it can produce hydrogen faster with less energy.

    Grey and brown hydrogen also use steam to produce the gas, but don’t sequester it. Green hydrogen produces the gas from water.

    A hub, according to the presentation by Manchin’s office, is a network of clean hydrogen producers, potential consumer and connective infrastructure. At least one hub will produce hydrogen from fossil fuels, one from renewables and one from nuclear energy (pink hydrogen).

    At least one hub will demonstrate clean hydrogen use for electric generation, one for industrial applications, one for residential and commercial heating and one for transportation.

    The infrastructure act included $9.5 billion for hydrogen, including $8 billion for Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs that will jump-start the production, transport, and use of clean hydrogen across the U.S. economy; $1 billion for a Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program to reduce costs of hydrogen produced from clean electricity; and $500 million for Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing and Recycling initiatives to support equipment manufacturing and strong domestic supply chains.

    On Feb. 15, Manchin, Capito, McKinley and Gov. Jim Justice announced the launch of the West Virginia Hydrogen Hub Coalition. On Feb. 25, they convened the initial organizing meeting. GO-WV, the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia, is also a member.

     

    Original Article by David Beard on dominionpost.com, April 28, 2022

    Original Article Here

  7. Capito, Manchin, McKinley Offer support of Harmony Grove Interchange Project

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    MORGANTOWN — The push for approval of the new Harmony Grove interchange has gone federal.

    In an April 27 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and Congressman David McKinley requested the review and approval of the Interchange Justification Report that will allow the project to move forward.

    The letter explains the interchange would allow direct interstate access to the Morgantown Industrial Park and references, without naming it, the Mountaintop Beverage facility currently under construction.

    That facility, which is expected to be operational in November, brings with it more than $200 million in clean manufacturing investments and several hundred jobs, according to the letter. It’s also expected to bring up to 100 trucks to the park on a daily basis.

    But that, Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom explained, is just the beginning.

    “What the public needs to understand is, we have two companies that want to expand and other companies that want to move in, and all they need to hear is this major project is moving forward,” Bloom said. “We’re thrilled that not only our federal representatives, but also the governor and the state, are working with us to request this interchange.”

    Capito followed up on the letter Thursday when she asked Buttigieg about the interchange specifically during a subcommittee hearing to review the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2023 budget request.

    “If safety’s your priority, this is a safety issue because of the business park that is associated, which is growing, and you know, that’s been difficult for us to be able to grow in our state,” Capito told Buttigieg. “We’re excited about the possibilities here, but it would take a lot of truck traffic out of those local areas. So, I just want to put that on your radar screen again and hope you can take a look at that.”

    The current working price estimate for the interchange is $41.6 million, though that number is believed to be on the high side. The actual cost in state and/or federal dollars would be $10 million, with the new Morgantown Industrial Park TIF district paying down the rest.

    Bloom said the local investment in the project coupled with the amount of economic development it promises to deliver make it a “win, win” in terms of federal infrastructure dollars.

    “We’re just very, very excited about this project,” he said.

     

    Original Article by Ben Conley on dominionpost.com, April 28, 2022

    Original Article Here

  8. Morgantown Seen As Economic Leader In North Central West Virginia Region

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    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — Despite COVID-19 and other challenges both locally and statewide, the Morgantown Area Partnership has been successful in moving projects along and executing their program work.

    “We’re excited about those results and as well as what 2022 can bring,” said Russ Rogerson, president and CEO of the partnership.

    Rogerson sees the success in Morgantown as proof that the partnership works. It was set up as a multi-purpose group doing the work of a traditional Chamber organization, as well as a developmental authority, neighborhood revitalization corporation and area economic partnership.

    “We saw where if someone wanted to come to the area, and if they had questions about their business and a type of property, they wouldn’t know where to go,” Sean Sikora, county commissioner, said. “We were successful in spite of ourselves. We were losing a lot of opportunities, so we sought to consolidate those organizations.”

    Many groups had similar ideas for success, but were not working together.

    “It was all centered around how do we create a greater cooperative working relationship across all the various entities, both political and private in the area, for the betterment of our communities,” he said. “We felt that we would be able to create better cooperation across those entities and therefore set a standard to help that cooperation throughout.” Rogerson noted a unique aspect of the partnership is that they have also added governmental and educational leaders.

    “It really broadened the representation on the community board,” Rogerson said. “That was the goal, to get more people involved and participating.”

    Rogerson said there are many things being done that have helped make the last year a bright one. In addition to new businesses coming to the area, the partnership restructured their organization, adding three new vice presidents, which Rogerson believes is a positive step in the right direction.

    Eric Carlson was named VP of economic development services.

    “Eric comes from former position of the equivalent of a city manager and in the college community of an Indiana Purdue, so he brings with a great deal of, you know, college town, university town, relationships and opportunities and challenges,” Rogerson said. “We’re very excited to have Eric on board.”

    Anna Carrier is the new VP of Chamber services.

    “Anna is local to Morgantown — born and raised, and a WVU grad,” Rogerson said. “She’s also a small business owner — The Cupcakerie — and previously worked at WVU Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, so she brings a lot to the table for us.”

    Longtime staffer Amy Loomis received a promotion.

    “I was fortunate to have her when I arrived, and Amy has been elevated to vice president of revitalization services,” Rogerson said. “She’s going to be hailing a lot of the efforts of the campus neighborhood revitalization.”

    Rogerson has seen increased attendance at Business After Hours events. Those were the first in-person events the partnership brought back, because they’re smaller and more manageable from a distancing perspective.

    “We actually had our largest Business After Hours, reaching 120 people in December, down at the Marriott Waterfront,” Rogerson said. “This year, we’re hoping they open up even more.”

    Rogerson is proud of the work from the many committees of the Morgantown Area Partnership.

    “All of our committees do a great job: government affairs, transportation, and of course WINGS — Women’s Innovative Networking Group,” Rogerson said. “They continue to meet and continue to keep track of the many areas they encompass in the transportation, government affairs, and others.”

    The new Workforce Development Committee was created to help many Morgantown residents who were put out of work in 2021.

    “We did that to address the large layoff announcements from Viatris and the Blacksburg coal mine — we thought it was important that we stepped into that arena and tried to add some value to those existing services,” Rogerson said. “We held a job fair with some 60 companies, representing over 2,000 jobs.”

    A portion of the Morgantown Area Partnership website has been turned into a networking site for recruiters, which Rogerson calls a tool that all Mon County companies can use to post their job openings for free.

    “It’s important that local people know how to access local jobs,” Rogerson said. “We’re very pleased with that, and hope people visit our website to see that.”

    “We have projects flowing through, and last year we had two new companies locate that will result in some $200 million in private investment and more than 200 jobs,” Rogerson said. “These two companies are located in the Morgantown industrial park.”

    The Morgantown Area Partnership purchased 9 1/2 acres of college housing along the Ridgewood Avenue corridor, with the express intent of starting a major redevelopment effort along the corridor to provide more connectivity to downtown Morgantown and also the university from area residents.

    The I-68 Commerce Park remains a project with positive future implications.

    “We continue to work with the city of Morgantown on the airport runway extension that’s going to result in the creation of the I-68 Commerce Park in 2023,” Rogerson said.

    The soils and rock needed for the runway extension are being taken from the nearby spot that will become the commerce park.

    “That area will be available to us in 2023, so you’re going to hear a lot more about I-68 Commerce Park then,” Rogerson said.

    The West Ridge area of Monongalia County saw two notable retail additions: Menards and Bass Pro Shop.

    “Bass Pro Shop is is one of those anchor stores that I think says quite a bit about the robustness of our community financially,” Rogerson said. “We are happy to have them and happy to have additional retailers coming in throughout the community.”

    People are getting more comfortable going out, and Rogerson knows Morgantown will be ready.

    “I think when we can get this calmed down long enough, I think the stores will see people coming through here,” Rogerson said. “We’ve got a number of stores opening up in the West Ridge area, and I do think people will get out.”

    Shopping online experienced a dramatic surge as the COVID-19 pandemic kept people home. Rogerson is curious to see the new future for retail, as the pandemic wanes.

    “I think some of those conveniences, just like having meetings on Zoom, or other ways, I think they’re here to stay,” Rogerson said. “It will be very interesting to see how long-term, we adjust and adapt to that.”

    Rogerson knows that some elements of shopping online cannot be beat, but hopes that a happy middle ground can be found.

    “The good news is people were forced into adding it, and it’s there in place, and they can only get better with it,” Rogerson said. “But I’m also hoping that we still have a healthy number of storefronts opening back up and and that we can provide both options.”

     

    Shopping, Morgantown (2021)

     

    Original Article by Chris Slater, March 26, 2022 on wvnews.com

    Original Article Here

  9. West Virginia University Takes Ownership of Former Mylan Facility

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    West Virginia University now officially owns the former Mylan pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, according to information released by the university Thursday afternoon.

    WVU paid $1 for the facility from health care company Viatris and plans to use the facility to create “short-, medium- and long-term academic, employment and community opportunities for Morgantown and surrounding areas, as well as tuition scholarships for impacted Mylan employees.”

    WVU and WVU Medicine will work together to oversee future development through a reconfigured WVU Innovation Corporation which will handle the daily operations at the facility.

    “We are pleased that Viatris placed its faith and trust in West Virginia University by engaging with us in this opportunity which combines WVU’s educational, entrepreneurial and research endeavors in new ways to make a real difference in our community,” WVU Vice President forStrategic Initiatives Rob Alsop said.

    Discussions are already underway with potential tenants to lease space within the 1.1 million square foot facility, according to WVU Health System President and CEO Albert Wright.

    “This property holds a lot of potential for Morgantown, the region and the state,” he said.”There is already a tremendous level of pioneering research being done through the University and the WVU Health System.”

    The sprawling facility has room for multiple tenants, Wright said during a press call following Thursday’s announcement.

    “There is significant interest from many parties in that building. We’re going to be working up a lot of different possibilities as to how we use that building over time,” he said. “I think it’s going to look more like a shopping mall over time, with a few anchor tenants and a few smaller, other entities in there versus one bog occupant.”

    There are currently no plans to remodel the facility, but that could change as tenants come on board and outline their specific needs, Wright said. 

    Gov. Jim Justice released a statement Thursday applauding WVU’s announcement. 

    “When you have a pillar of our state as well known and as successful as WVU taking over such an important facility right in their backyard, you know the results are going to be tremendous.” 

    U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., also released a joint statement Thursday afternoon. 

    “Today’s announcement is great news for the Morgantown community and our entire state. I know my dear friend Mike Puskar is looking down smiling that his beloved Mylan will now be part of the WVU family. I’m pleased WVU is taking this next step at the Viatris facility while also taking action to support former workers impacted by its closure,” Manchin said. “Investments in critical facilities like the Viatris property are essential to addressing our national security and public health, through improving our medical supply chain and increasing domestic manufacturing of medicines. As we move forward, I will continue working with WVU, Viatris and state and local officials to get the facility up and running and employing hardworking West Virginians.” 

    “The announcement that WVU and WVU Health are taking over the Viatris is welcome news for the Morgantown community and the entire state of West Virginia. I am glad to see WVU and WVU Health take this promising next step, and I wish them well in this new endeavor as they seek out new tenants. I know it has been a challenging time following the announcement regarding the facility, and I am glad we have the opportunity to move forward in a way to strengthen our economy and develop jobs in the area,” Capito said. 

    “Thank you to WVU for taking this necessary step to attract private investment and jobs,” McKinley said. “Losing Mylan was a blow to Morgantown and the surrounding area, but I am confident this facility can be put to good use again. We will continue to work with WVU, the state of West Virginia and all other stakeholders to provide more opportunity for West Virginia families.” 

    In December 2020 Viatris announced plans to close the Morgantown Mylan Chestnut Ridge oral solid dose manufacturing facility on July 31, 2021, eliminating the 1,500 jobs. The announcement came about two months after Viatris merged with Mylan Pharmaceuticals. 

     

    Original article written by Charles Young March 31, 2022, on wvnews.com

    Original Article Here

     

  10. The Power of Basic Job Announcements

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    Location remains the golden rule when making real estate investment and development decisions. Buying and developing in a growing, diversified market heightens the likelihood an investor/developer will make a profitable decision that meets discount rate thresholds. Your 401K and SEP IRA advisors have drilled diversification into your brain. While location, including the importance of a diversified market, is a critical driver of real estate success, there is more to making a profitable real estate investment. Determining whether an investment decision will meet an investor’s discount rate (preferred rate of return) can be a tedious, dynamic, and complicated process. Understanding market dynamics is critical to any successful real estate investment or development. This article will provide a crystal ball on how to decipher market stability while having a tool to help project market growth.

    What is the single biggest impact on a local economic area? Jobs. But – and that is a big BUT – not all jobs are created equal. “Basic employment” is the queen to driving an economy. Basic employment is made up of industries that rely on external factors (beyond the local economic area) to fuel demand. Basic employment produces and/or supplies more goods and services than can be consumed by the local economic area (Ex:  Morgantown MSA) which results in consumption outside of the local community. Examples of basic employers close to BDR’s home base include NIOSH, WVU Medicine and Mitsbuishi. On the other hand, non-basic employment depends almost entirely on local demand. Non-basic employment is defined as goods and services that are solely (or almost solely) consumed by the local economic area. Examples of non-basic employers include dental practices, pediatricians, hair stylists, and restaurants.

    The two types work together. Non-basic employment supports the demand created by basic employment. This inflow of dollar (increased purchasing power) comes from outside the local economic area. The Economic Base Multiplier (EBM) is a measure that provides an estimate of how changes in basic employment will affect total employment, number of households and purchasing power within a local economic area.

    Site To Do Business is an excellent tool for this type of analysis. The bullet points below provide Economic Base Multiplier data for several Multiple Statistical Areas (MSA) within three hours of Morgantown, WV.

    • Morgantown MSA:  4.06
    • Martinsburg, WV/Hagerstown, MD MSA:  6.56
    • Wheeling, WV MSA 3.26
    • Pittsburgh, PA MSA 9.69
    • Parkersburg/Vienna, WV MSA:  2.65
    • Charleston, WV MSA 1.73
    • Huntington, WV/Ashland, KY MSA:  1.80

    Over the past 12 months, West Virginia has enjoyed significant economic momentum. 

    Mitsibishi is in the process of bringing an additional 240 jobs to Harrison County. Another deal is in the works for Morgantown Industrial Park which could bring ~150 jobs with scalability for much greater employment.  Beyond north central WV, Green Energy recently announced their intent to build electric buses in a new South Charleston manufacturing facility. Green Energy plans to hire 200 jobs initially with potential to scale to 900 WV workers within 24 months. Nucor is constructing a $2.7B, state-of-the-art steel making mill in Mason County, WV. Once fully operational, anticipated employment is 800.

    Economic base multiplier theory tells us total job creation is well beyond the job announcements highlighted above. Utilizing the closest MSA’s EBM results in the following jobs created:

    • Mitsubishi:  Utilizing Morgantown MSA’s EBM, 240 basic jobs results in 974 total new employees.
    • Confidential User Utilizing Morgantown MSA’s EMB, 150 basic jobs results in 609 total new employees.
    • Green Energy Utilizing Charleston MSA’s EBM, 200 initial basic jobs results in 346 total new employees.  Assuming the operation scales to projected capacity, 900 basic jobs results in 1,557 total new employees.
    • Nucor Utilizing Parkersburg MSA’s EBM, 800 basic jobs results in 2,120 total new employees.

    Jobs drive an economy. Basic jobs lead to other support jobs, called non-basic, which is calculated via the economic base multiplier.

    There are two final steps to fully understand the total impact of these announcements. Our goal is to understand the total dollars flowing into a community as a result of new basic jobs. The next step in the calculation process is to multiply the total jobs by the average household size to get an estimate on total population. The final step is to multiply total households by the average median household income. West Virginia’s state average household contains 2.4 individuals. As of 2019, West Virginia has the following statistics: Average household income is $63,680. Median household income is $46,711. Per capita income is $26,480.

    The four announcements highlighted in this article result in guaranteed basic employment (could be more as the business scales) of 1,290. The economic base multiplier calculation provided a total new employment calculation of 4,049 new basic and non-basic jobs. The average household size is 2.4 individuals resulting in 9,718 individuals moving to and or being retained in West Virginia. The purchasing power of these individuals is determined by multiplying per capita income by the number of individuals. These four announcements result in a total increase in purchasing power of $257,332,640. For perspective, West Virginia’s 2020 annual budget was $4.495 billion. The four announcements represent purchasing power equal to 5.7% of West Virginia’s annual budget. These are big announcements for Almost Heaven!

    Black Diamond Realty is hopeful this information provides a greater understanding of the dynamic analysis and projections that should be considered when making real estate investment decisions. Economists use many tools, including economic base multiplier, to determine the overall effect on a local economic area. Our team of experts looks forward to working with you on your next project.

     

     

    Article By: David Lorenze, Principal
    Co-Writer: Kim Licciardi, Senior Associate 

  11. Business Facilities Magazine names West Virginia among top 10 business climates in U.S.

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    When thinking about U.S. states most well-suited for business, particularly in the fields of new and emerging technologies, most likely turn to states like California and Texas — and the Mountain State is probably not high on that list.

    But for Business Facilities Magazine, West Virginia ranked No. 10 on its Best Business Climate list, released as part of its 17th annual rankings (Texas was No. 3, while California did not make the top 10).

    “For years, I’ve been saying that West Virginia is the best kept secret on the East Coast, but the word keeps getting out and the world is taking notice of how our state is one of the best places to live and work,” Gov. Jim Justice said of the ranking. “Not only have we improved our state’s economy and business climate, we’ve jumped to the head of the pack. I want to thank all the folks at our Commerce, Economic Development and Tourism departments for all the hard work they’ve done to make our state shine.”

    The state was one of two — the other being Arizona, ranked No. 9 — identified by the magazine as “rising stars” that saw “breakthrough results” for the 2021 ranking.

    “We are excited to receive this recognition, and it just goes to show that all of our hard work in making West Virginia the best place to do business is paying off,” said West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch.

    Echoing the governor, West Virginia Department of Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael said the recognition not only showcases the progress already made but will also help drive additional growth.

    “By diversifying our economy, we’ve laid a foundation that can support economic growth for years to come,” Carmichael said. “Site consultants are a key component of driving economic activity, and this recognition is going to expose even more companies to the great opportunities here in West Virginia.”

    The magazine also ranked Charleston at No. 3 for best business climate among metro areas with a population of less than 200,000.

    Virgin Hyperloop

    The primary driver for West Virginia’s ranking discussed at length in the magazine was Virgin Hyperloop. In October, The Virgin Group announced it had selected West Virginia to be the home of its new certification center for Hyperloop.

    The facility will be built on an 800-acre stretch of land located in Grant and Tucker counties.

    Hyperloop is a method of transportation that would move people and goods in pods through a vacuum tube at speeds exceeding 600 mph, which would enable travel from Pittsburgh to Chicago in 41 minutes or New York City to Washington, D.C. in just 30 minutes.

    Virgin Hyperloop CEO Jay Walder noted in October that the Hyperloop Certification Center’s role will be a critical step in taking the already proven technology and demonstrating to regulators and certifiers that it works and is safe for passengers.

    “West Virginia is well-positioned to provide a fully-integrated solution that advances the nationwide opportunity for hyperloop,” Walder said at the time. “The engineering and scientific talent, combined with the skilled workforce and collaborative spirit we know is critical to this project, is all right here.”

    That collaborative spirit was showcased in the myriad of people who were part of the announcement in October, representing various organizations who had a hand in helping to secure the facility.

    In addition to local and state government officials and agencies, as well as the state’s federal representatives, West Virginia and Marshall universities were involved in the process.

    WVU President Dr. E. Gordon Gee made collaboration the focal point of his part of the pitch to Hyperloop officials.

    “With only 1.8 million people, we have to collaborate — with public education, state government, business and industry,” Gee said in a news release in November. “None of us can go it alone, but together we can make a mighty force, a mighty wind, if you will.”

    And with a collaborative effort will come shared benefits, with an October projection from the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research predicting the new certification facility would have an economic impact of about $48 million annually.

    Biometrics

    Also mentioned by Business Facilities Magazine was the work in biometrics being done in North Central West Virginia.

    The epicenter of these efforts is the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg. Staffed 24/7 and having more than 3,000 total employees, the work done at CJIS supports a variety of functions, from getting information to local police to combatting terrorism around the world.

    CJIS processes an average of more than 10 million transactions for the National Crime Information Center every day, and has subdivisions dedicated to background checks for firearms, sharing of data and information between law enforcement agencies and processing tips on potential threats.

    While the discussion of biometrics is generally thought of as involving fingerprints — CJIS does have more than 77 million criminal fingerprints on file used in its operations — the Biometric Technology Center also works with the Department of Defense on the storage and access of eye iris scans and palm prints.

    Virgin Hyperloop
    Virgin Hyperloop
    Morgantown, WV

    Article by:

    WV News

    https://www.wvnews.com/news/wvnews/business-facilities-magazine-names-west-virginia-among-top-10-business-climates-in-u-s/article_8a0d0950-f6cb-11eb-bc1b-9309dbb1c595.html?utm_source=wvnews.com&utm_campaign=%2Fnewsletter%2Foptimize%2Fdaily-headlines%2F%3F-dc%3D1628420425&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headline

  12. MIP ‘strategically located’ to Attract businesses

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    The Morgantown Industrial Park (MIP) is preparing for expansion, and with expansion, owners hope to bring jobs into the area.

    “We think we’re strategically located and will be an attractive place for someone looking to build and to come into north-central West Virginia,” said Glenn Adrian co-owner of Enrout Properties, which owns MIP.

    MIP is more than 500 acres in total. Currently, most of the development is concentrated on the east-ern part of the park. During the past year, MIP has worked with the Monongalia County Commission, Morgantown Area Partnership and the City of Westover in hopes of expanding the western side of the park.

    “The proposed development at the industrial park will have a positive impact on not only Westover, it will impact our entire county,” said Dave Johnson, mayor of Westover.

    To fuel this expansion, the park has been working to establish an interchange in what is now known as the Harmony Grove TIF District. The goal of the interchange is to spur additional development within the park by giving better access to the interstate.

    Adrian said the recent approval of the establishment of a new TIF district, or tax increment financing district, by the Monongalia County Commission has been a big step for MIP. He said this will allow MIP to move forward with West Virginia development offices in terms of getting approval for expansion of infrastructure and roads.

    As MIP looks to create direct access to the inter-state, it also continues to bring new business to the area. Adrian said MIP will announce plans to add a manufacturing facility to the area within the next 30 days in conjunction with local and state officials.

    He said because of COVID-19 as well as job loss following the announcement to close down Mylan Pharmaceuticals, bringing jobs to the area is vital.

    “I think this is some-thing that has been a wake-up call for not only Mon County, but north-central West Virginia,” he said. “Jobs are important and these are blue-collar type manufacturing jobs —well paying jobs — with benefits and things of that nature.”

    Currently, businesses located in MIP are mainly located along the Monongahela River. This includes the SI group, WVU commercial laundry facility, Central Supply Co. and a Republic Services transfer station. Garrick Electric Co., Black Diamond Equipment Rental and others also have locations on site.

    Part of what draws businesses to MIP is that it is equipped to barge products in and out, as well as rail products in and out. These two abilities, along with looking toward access to the interstate, will make MIP a desirable location for manufacturing and distribution companies.

    Adrian said significant studies are required before establishing an inter-change becomes possible. These include looking at the interchange’s geometric design, studying traffic in the area and looking at environmental impact, including anything from noise pollution to impact on waterways.

    MIP is in the midst of conducting these studies with Thrasher Engineer-ing. Once complete, the studies will help determine the feasibility of an inter-change with the West Vir-ginia Department of High-ways and the Federal High-way Administration.

    “Really what we’re hop-ing to generate is the avail-ability of industrial sites that, with the new inter-change, would attract other types of manufactur-ing, distribution centers, things of that nature,” Adrian said.

     

    WRITTEN BY GABRIELLA BROWN

    GBrown@DominionPost.com

     

     

  13. Mylan plant in Morgantown Shutdown planned for July 31

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    According to MetroNews, Mylan, the pharmaceutical giant that was founded in Morgantown, is closing its plant there next July 31, employees learned this morning on a call.

    _____

    Full Article Written Below:

    A major manufacturer will shut down next summer as Mylan, a pharmaceutical giant founded in West Virginia, folds in with Pfizer’s Upjohn unit.

    “We’re quite disturbed and concerned,” Mon0ngalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom said this morning on WAJR Radio. “Our concern is for the workers, the families and the rippling effect it’s going to have on other families, communities and businesses.”

    The announcement was made to employees this morning by Peter McCormick, one of the corporate executives. The head of global human resources was on the call as well.

    The closure by the generic drug maker means elimination of 1,500 jobs. The layoffs would not take place until the closure date.

    “The first thing I thought about were all of our neighbors and their families who will be affected,” Morgantown Mayor Ron Delaney said on WAJR.

    The move is part of a 20 percent reduction by the company, which just completed a merger last month with Pfizer Inc.’s Upjohn unit.

    The new company, Viatris, confirmed and provided more detail about the closure in a corporate statement.

    “This announcement in no way reflects upon the company’s genuine appreciation for the commitment and work ethic of the employees at Chestnut Ridge. The phasing out of manufacturing operations at this facility was a decision Viatris did not take lightly,” stated Viatris CEO Michael Goettler.

    “The site has been producing medicine in Morgantown since 1965 and paved the way for Mylan’s early growth. We are sharing the details of this announcement now in order to provide as much time as possible prior to the closing date to work with federal, state and local leaders to try to identify alternatives for the site outside of the Viatris network that could potentially preserve as many jobs as possible. In the meantime, we remain committed to treating those impacted fairly and with respect.”

    The Collins Ferry research and development lab will remain open. “The team at this facility has played a critical role in some of the company’s most important scientific achievements and will continue to do so as Viatris expands its pipeline of complex medicines,” according to the corporate statement.

    But the Chestnut Ridge oral solid dose manufacturing facility will be shut down by mid-summer 2021.

    On the call this morning, employees learned there will be severance offers available for those who stay until July 31. Offers are to be made on individual basis.

    The plant was idled Thursday with employees told to leave any company items such as cell phones or laptops. Late shifts were told not to report. Weekend shifts were also told to stand down.

    The idling was to last until this coming Tuesday.

    Mylan was co-founded in West Virginia in 1961 by the late Mike Puskar as a small vitamin company that grew into a global generic drug powerhouse.

    U.S. Rep. David McKinley

    “The news that Viatris will be closing its manufacturing facility in Morgantown next year is extremely disappointing, all the more so given the company’s long history in West Virginia,” stated Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., whose district covers the area.

    “Mike Puskar started Mylan from nothing and grew it to be a global leader. The Morgantown facility has been part of that heritage from nearly the beginning.  At a time when we should be focusing on bringing manufacturing to America and securing our domestic pharmaceutical supply chain, this decision is a reminder of the challenges we face. Our thoughts are with the families of the 1500 workers who will be impacted. We will do everything we can to help them through this difficult time.”

    U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., described her reaction as “incredibly disappointed.”

    Shelley Moore Capito

    “This is devastating news for the hundreds of hardworking individuals who worked at Mylan that make up the plant’s workforce and the entire community — especially during the holiday season,” Capito stated.

    “I will continue to do whatever I can to help the community—whether it’s working with partners at the federal, state, and local levels, to attract new investment to the area or assisting those who have been impacted by the closure.”

    Mylan just completed a merger Nov. 16 with  Pfizer Inc.’s Upjohn unit to form a new company called Viatris. Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch, daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, retired at the closing. Upjohn group’s president Goettler assumed the chief executive’s post at Viatris.

    Viatris, headquartered in Delaware,  retained Mylan’s operations center in Cecil, Washington County, Pa., and the plant in Morgantown along with operations centers in Hyderabad, India, and in Shanghai, where Upjohn was based.

    At the time, the new company said it was targeting about $1 billion in cost cuts, but hadn’t provided details right away. The combined company has about 45,000 employees.

    Viatris in November said it was “currently in the process of defining the specific parameters of the program, including workforce actions and other restructuring activities.”

    At the time the company said it would disclose specifics by the end of the year.

    Viatris, broadly addressing its downsizing activities, indicated that it would cooperate when possible to soften the blow for communities.

    “Wherever feasible, Viatris will seek to find potential buyers for its facilities in order to preserve as many jobs as possible and will work with impacted communities to identify appropriate potential alternatives,” the company stated.

    Gov. Jim Justice

    Gov. Jim Justice said he would be on a phone call with Viatris officials this afternoon “in the hopes of coming up with some option or some level of something to try to save these jobs.”

    During a broad-ranging briefing, Justice said his administration started getting word of the plant’s peril late Thursday.

    “This is a shame beyond belief,” the governor said.

    Tom Bloom

    Bloom, the county commissioner speaking on WAJR, expressed hope for a job fair and other attempts to help families. One of his worries was taking the economic blow while there is already a downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic.

    “This is more than a double. It’s a quadruple whammy,” Bloom said.

    This is part of ongoing efforts by the company to cut costs. Viatris also announced today it would shut down similar plants in Ireland and Puerto Rico. More cost-cutting efforts are ahead, the company stated.

    “Wherever feasible,” the company stated, “Viatris will seek to find potential buyers for its facilities in order to preserve as many jobs as possible and will work with impacted communities to identify appropriate potential alternatives.”

    J.D. Wilson, the United Steel Workers International representative, representing 875 members who work at the plant, said the union would continue efforts to try to help workers, even attempting to preserve the jobs if at all possible.

    “They’ve been very good jobs held by very hard-working people,” Wilson said on “Talkline.”

    Right now, he said, workers are “just trying to get a grasp.”

    Mike Caputo

    Mike Caputo, elected last month to represent the area in the state Senate, described the loss of jobs as devastating for employees, their families and surrounding communities.

    He said he would work “to convince company officials that closing this facility is the wrong choice.”

    “I will urge Senators Manchin and Capito to bring us together as a SWAT team to quickly address this,” stated Caputo, D-Marion.

     

    Article Written by:

    From Metro News
    Link to Full/Original Article : https://wvmetronews.com/2020/12/11/breaking-mylans-morgantown-facility-plans-july-31-shutdown-1500-jobs-to-be-lost/
  14. County Hopes to Fund I-79 Project

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    Glenn Adrian proposed interchange idea to commission. If you build it, they will come.

    Sure, the line originated with disembodied voices and ghosts playing baseball in a cornfield, but the principle is a bit broader. For example, you could say if you build the proper infrastructure, investment, development, jobs and tax dollars will come. That’s precisely what Glenn Adrian is saying. Adrian, with Enrout Properties, is the owner of the Morgantown Industrial Park.

    Adrian recently told the Monongalia County Commission and Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, that after two years of back and forth with the West Virginia Department of Transportation and the governor’s office, he believes a deal is imminent that will allow various feasibility studies regarding a new I-79 interchange at the Harmony Grove/River Road overpass to begin.

    He said building the interchange would not only make the park the only industrial site in West Virginia with barge, rail and interstate access, it would also remove the heavy flow of truck traffic that is funneled through Westover to access the 500-acre park via Dupont Road. It would also make the park far more attractive to potential investors.

    Commission President Ed Hawkins called the proposal put forward by one of those potential investors “mind boggling.”

    “We’re working very diligently with a significant clean manufacturer that wants to be here in the county … We’re talking about a 300,000 to 600,000 square-foot facility, up to 250 jobs and a lot synergies with WVU and the ag sciences and engineering departments,” Adrian said, adding, “This company, at its peak, will probably have 60 to 70 trucks a day. They’re a 24/7 operator. They cannot go here  unless this becomes a reality.”

    In order to help make it a reality, park ownership is working with the state on the creation of a second industrial park TIF district, the increment from which would expand water, sewer and road infrastructure to undeveloped portions of the park and reimburse the state for the estimated $20-$30 million interchange construction.

    Both Adrian and the commission point to the $22 million construction of I-79 Exit 153 as proof that such an arrangement can work.

    “The question is what’s the cost to the taxpayers, and in Mon County we don’t like running to Charleston and saying ‘We have this problem, what are you going to do for us?’ We try to bring solutions,” Commissioner Sean Sikora said. “That’s what happened with the first interchange. We found a solution to pay for it, and within a couple years it was paid off. It didn’t cost the taxpayers. It was all paid for from the increments out of the district. Same thing with this.”

    The original industrial park TIF district was created in 2008. Adrian said the tax value of the park has gone from $26 million when Enrout purchased it, to between $45-$50 million. Add in the hundreds of miles of pipeline staged on the site for the now abandoned Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, that value jumps to approximately $90 million.

    Sikora referenced a WVU economic study from 2019 that indicated the park as it’s currently configured has had a $1.1 billion impact on the state’s economy. Adrian said the interchange and park expansion would double that number over the next 10 years, according to projections.

    Before any of that becomes reality, however, it must be determined if the interchange project makes sense.

    “Interchanges like this are very arduous, A lot of studies have to go into it, which we’re going to pay for, but we’re very close to signing that collaboration agreement, Adrian said, adding, “We can draw all the pretty pictures we want, but the studies will determine the feasibility of this interchange.”

    Article by Ben Conley, The Dominion Post   |  August 30, 2020
  15. Longview Plans to Expand – Officials Seek to Build $1.1B Facility

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    Right now there are just wild flowers on the empty land next to the Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, just north of Morgantown. But that will change in just a few years. Longview officials are in the process of obtaining permits to construct a $1.1 billion Longview Power Clean Energy Center that will be one of the largest fully integrated power generation facilities in the region. The company said the plant is sorely needed in the state.

    Coal-fired electric power plants accounted for 92% of the state’s electric generation in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Renewable energy — like wind or hydroelectric-generated 5.3%, while natural gas provided 2.1%. “The average age of a coal plant in West Virginia is 45 years,” said Jeff Keffler, chief executive officer of Longview Power LLC, which opened eight years ago. “The writing is on the wall.” Indeed. Seven of the eight coal-fired plants are expected to be obsolete and could be retired in the next few years, hence Longview’s push to be up and running by 2023.

    The facility will be a combination gas and solar facility and be located next to Longview’s coal-fired plant, which the company said is one of the cleanest coal plants in the country. Adding gas and solar components is part of its overall business strategy, Longview officials said. “The choice was to invest in West Virginia,” Keffler said. “This will be a state-of-the-art facility.” This is a win-win. We are a West Virginia company, and we’re able to grow.” Longview officials recently took local Monongalia County representatives, union officials and news media on a tour of the current coal facility and updated the status of the project, announced last year.

    The plan

    Company officials said the expansion will be constructed with union labor. The gas portion of the project will be built first. When complete, it will be a 1,200-megawatt, natural gas-fired, combined-cycle gas turbine that will be adjacent to the coal plant. Marcellus shale gas will be used. Construction of the natural gas phase of the project is slated to begin sometime next year, with completion targeted for 2022. This phase of the project is expected to cost $925 million and could mean lower fuel costs for consumers in the coming years. The plant will employ up to 35 full and part-time workers at an annual payroll of nearly $2 million, according to Longview.

    The plan makes sense, energy experts said. “The fuel is plentiful,” James Wood, interim director of the Energy Institute at West Virginia University, said in an email. “The permitting process is less complicated and the capital and operating costs of the power plant are lower kW than coal, plus natural gas prices will be favorable for several years.

    The third phase of the project is the solar and carries a price tag of $76 million. Plans here call for the construction of 70-megawatt solar facility, 20 megawatts will be in West Virginia, while 50 megawatts will be  just over the Pennsylvania border in Greene County. It will be the first large-grade solar facility in West Virginia, the company said. Also, companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook are looking to buy its electricity from renewable energy sources, Keffler said.

    The power produced by the gas and solar facilities when they come online — possibly by 2023 — will be sold the PJM Interconnection LLC, which coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity through 13 states and the District of Columbia. Longview provides power to 500,000 homes in the PJM. “The reconfigured plant should dispatch ahead of the plant as it exists today,” Wood said.

    The impact

    Over the life of the plant, Longview agreed to pay Monongalia County $105 million in payments in lieu of taxes — PILOT. The expansion will add $58 million to the total. During the construction phase of the gas portion, nearly 5,000 jobs will be created, while the solar portion will generate 75 construction-related jobs. Longview said employee compensation should exceed $360 million. The economic impacts on the West Virginia economy associated with the first full year of operation of the gas plant are estimated at 618 full and part-time jobs, with $43 million in employee compensation.

    The solar plant, meanwhile, in its first year of operation is estimated to create 10 full and part-time jobs and $640,000 in employee compensation.  The plant will be constructed on reclaimed mine land. Kessler said Longview — owned by New York-based equity firm KKR & Co. Inc. — should have its permitting process finished in the next 12 months. Construction should begin right after that. Barbara Evans Fleischauer, a Democratic state delegate, from Monongalia County, toured the Longview plant and was updated on the plant expansion. “It’s important to me that union workers will be used,” she said. “I think this is exciting.

     

    Article by: Suzanne Elliott, The Dominion Post

  16. It’s a wash: Don Stenger selling longtime car wash businesses

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    Two longtime Morgantown car washes are for sale after their owner decided it was time to retire and enjoy the next chapter of his life. “I don’t fish, hunt or play golf,” said Don Stenger, owner of the shuttered Stenger’s on Chestnut Ridge Road and South High Turbo-Matic on High Street. “It’s going to be a hard transition.

    Stenger, 69, said he decided to close Stenger’s in April after it became too hard for him to find help to staff the business he has owned since 1982. “That was the deciding factor,” he said. “The help I did have was always short-handed.” Stenger has owned South High Turbo-Matic since 1952. It was the site of his family’s store — Stenger’s Inc. — and was converted to an automated car wash after Stenger said his father showed him one in Huntington, where the line was three blocks long.

    He said to me ‘Donnie if I open one, will you give me a hand?’ ” said Stenger, who was 16 at the time. “I said sure.” The South High Street location will remain open until bad weather hits the area later this year, he said. “For the past seven years, business has dwindled,” Stenger said. “Students today don’t wash their cars. A clean car is a happy car, but I don’t think that is the case today.

    Both the Chestnut Ridge and South High properties have been listed for sale with Black Diamond Realty LLC. The asking price for the 767 Chestnut Ridge property is $1.95 million. According to the marketing brochure, the total available space is 7,805 square feet and 32,493 vehicles pass the site daily. The ground level of the main building is 6,623 square feet that was used mostly as cashier space and a waiting area. The second floor is 1,049 square feet of storage space. The building also includes five 14-foot-by-nine-foot overhead doors and a large tunnel with an automatic car wash bay. A detached, 133-square-foot building is also on the property. It was previously used as a pet grooming station.

    The asking price for the automatic car wash located at 132 S. High St. is $1.225 million, Black Diamond said. Even though the business dates back to 1952, the current 5,883-square-foot building was constructed in 1980. The car wash, which sits on .67-acre parcel, has nine car wash stalls and 10 vacuum stalls. The additional parking space is available for interior cleaning and detailing. The interior of the building has office and laundry space.

    I don’t think I could have held on without my wife, Jackie,” Stenger said. “I also want to thank Morgantown for its business over the years.

     

    Article by Suzanne Elliott, The Dominion Post

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    Interested in purchasing either one of these locations? See the detailed marketing flyer links below and call Black Diamond Realty at 304.413.4350 to schedule a tour.

    View 132 South High Street Marketing Flyer: CLICK HERE

    View 767 Chestnut Ridge Road Marketing Flyer: CLICK HERE

     

     

     

  17. City Agency Looking to Acquire 430 Spruce Street

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    Working through its newly formed Land Reuse and Preservation Agency, the city of Morgantown plans to acquire the 8,000 square-foot building at 430 Spruce St. for $1.25 million.

    City Manager Paul Brake said the property, which is next to the Morgantown Market Place pavilion, will serve dual purposes. The first floor will be used as additional office space for city personnel, while the second floor will be leased to private commercial tenants, providing a revenue source of about $60,000 annually for the LRPA.

    Additionally, the LRPA and the Morgantown Parking Authority will split an estimated $24,000 annually in long-term parking rentals for the spaces around the building.

    The cost of the building is $1.25 million, about $85,000 below its appraised value, according to Brake. The LRPA will seek a total of $1.5 million in financing from private lenders. The additional funds will be used for renovations ($176,000) and a pocket park public space in front of the building ($115,000).

    The Morgantown Police Department actually moved into the building in April due to construction at the Morgantown Public Safety Building. Brake said the existing lease of $13,500 for the MPD’s use of the space will be rolled into the financing.

    The city will lease the first floor off the LRPA for $150,000 annually. That money will be used by the agency to repay the loan on the property, which has been on the market for about a year.

    As the placement agency on the project, Cruise and Associates will line up potential lenders. Brake said the initial timeline would have the LRPA closing on the property in early September.

    He said it’s too early to say what city offices would make the move across the street, but noted the city may eventually occupy the entire building.

    This will allow us to provide adequate space. We’re in growth mode. We’re adding positions to the work force and we need an area to house these folks,” Brake said, explaining the city facilities are already tight on space. “We did look at alternative arrangements — leasing out other spaces or building new. This is the most practical from a financial perspective.

    The creation of the LRPA was finalized in January, making it the first of its kind in West Virginia.

    The agency has autonomy to make purchases or acquire property through gifts or other means. Council appoints members to three-year terms and has the final say over acquisitions.

    Council moved the acquisition forward for consideration, with the only challenge coming from Councilor Ron Dulaney, who said he would like to see all the details as well as the city’s rationale for the move spelled out and made available publicly.

    Council also moved the following forward for future consideration:

    • A change that would make Second Street one-way, from University Avenue to Grant Avenue. Additionally, a number of metered parking spaces will be placed along the one-way street.

    The changes are to accommodate Appalachian Cannabis Co., which lost its on-site parking spaces as they are located in front of the building and non-conforming under the “retail sales establishment” use.

    • A change that will alter the traffic signal at the intersection of Earl L. Core Road (W.Va. 7) and Hartman Run Road to accommodate vehicles entering and exiting to former Freedom Ford site, which will be the home of a new Aldi grocery store. Council asked that the DOH also consider pedestrian crossings when finalizing its plans. Tweet @DominionPostWV

     

    Article by Ben Conley, The Dominion Post 

  18. 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.

    MORGANTOWN

    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

    FAIRMONT

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

    CLARKSBURG

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

    ELKINS

    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

     

  19. WVU Board of Governors OKs Three Major Construction Projects and Financing

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    Citing the need to “improve the quality of student life, enrich academic experience, enhance student services, and respond to students’ needs,” the West Virginia University Board of Governors unanimously approved construction plans Wednesday for three major projects totaling $176 million.

    The projects will be funded by a combination of private donations, auxiliary revenue, private financing (bonds) and reserves.

    The projects are:

    · $100 million for construction of Reynolds Hall, the new home of the John Chambers College of Business and Economics on the site of the former Stansbury Hall on the banks of the Monongahela River.

    · $35 million for renovation of Hodges Hall classroom building, which has seen no major renovation since its opening in 1954.

    · $41 million for the next two phases of upgrades to Milan Puskar Center.

    At nearly 180,000-square-feet, Reynolds Hall, named for alumni and financier Robert Reynolds, “will not only be transformational in what it provides West Virginia University from an academic perspective, but it will also recast a portion of Morgantown’s waterfront into a hub of business activity. The true differentiator for the John Chambers College will be that of experiential learning and the overall role it plays in the student experience,” the University said in documents outlining the plan. “Reynolds Hall will encourage and stimulate a model of education that reflects a blend of classroom learning with experiences outside the classroom, ranging from learning labs to events, and from group participation-based projects to training designed to ready students for their careers.

    The demolition of Stansbury Hall has already begun. Reynolds Hall is expected to be ready for occupancy by June of 2022. The proposed Hodges Hall renovation is proposed to include contemporary classrooms; computer classrooms; seminar and meeting rooms; updated office spaces; improved technology for teaching; and a 210-seat testing center. The Board was told the testing center is critical as there is currently no centralized center on campus. This center will help improve the testing process and continue progress toward making academic integrity a hallmark of our academic delivery. Eberly College of Arts and Sciences’ Women and Gender Studies, Native American Studies and World Languages, Literature, and Linguistics will occupy the upper floors. Occupancy is planned for June of 2021.

    The work at Milan Puskar Center includes expansion and renovation of spaces that are more than 10 years old, including the home team locker room, player lounge, equipment room, recovery suite, infrastructure, Hall of Traditions, offices, team meeting rooms and other support spaces. The locker room layout is inefficient for team meetings and is not large enough to support the full team roster. Included in the renovations are upgrades to the building infrastructure, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, along with AV and technology upgrades to support current and future phases of the renovation. The project should be complete by July of 2021.

    The Board also unanimously approved the issuing of up to $110 million in revenue bonds to finance a portion of the projects. A second financing may occur toward the end of 2020. The Board also authorized the reissuing of up to $55 million in previously issued debt that is callable in October of this year. Board members Charles Capito and Taunja Willis Miller both recused themselves from consideration of the financing because their employers are involved in the bond process. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board is set for Sept. 13 in Morgantown.

    Article by WVU. Click HERE to read original article.

  20. WVU Medicine holds grand opening for Center for Hope and Healing

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    Douglas M. Leech establishes fund to support addiction recovery

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine and the WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry held a grand opening today (March 1) for the new WVU Medicine Center for Hope and Healing, a 29,305-square-foot addiction treatment facility that offers 12 beds for subacute medically managed withdrawal residential care and 30 beds for residential care up to 28 days.

    “Addiction in West Virginia continues to plague the state as one of its most serious problems. West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation, and in many ways is the epicenter of the addiction/opioid epidemic,” Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, said. “The WVU Medicine Center for Hope and Healing meets a major community need that has, to date, only been addressed on a small scale compared to the large scale of affected population.”

    The Center works to support adults struggling with substance use disorders through medically managed withdrawal stabilization and residential treatment. WVU Medicine and the WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry already offer a comprehensive menu of outpatient services for people with substance use disorders, and the addition of withdrawal management and 28-day rehabilitation completes the in-house continuum of care for these disorders.

    The comprehensive person-centered treatment program offered at the Center includes:

    • Detoxification
    • Residential treatment
    • Medication-assisted treatment
    • Family support services
    • Individualized treatment plans
    • Trauma-informed care
    • Mindfulness-based practices
    • Specialized programming for recent overdose survivors and pregnant women

    “These services allow us to treat the entire patient not just his or her substance use disorder,” James Berry, D.O., director of addiction services, WVU Medicine Chestnut Ridge Center, and interim chair, WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, said. “We work with our patients to understand their immediate and long-term needs. By integrating treatment and recovery, our patients are able to incorporate change into their lives outside of the treatment setting.”

    The facility will serve as a single regional referral point for assessment of patients following discharge from local emergency rooms, inpatient detox units, and other referral sources. It will also accept self-referrals and referrals from community providers.

    In addition to celebrating the opening of the Center, officials also celebrated the receipt of a generous gift that has been made to support patient care at the Center for Hope and Healing.

    Douglas M. Leech, founder and CEO of Ascension Recovery Services, has established the Center for Hope and Healing Patient Care Fund with a gift of $60,000.

    The fund, which will offset the cost of treatment, will benefit patients seeking care at the Center for Hope and Healing.

    “The WVU Center for Hope and Healing will provide the highest quality clinical care for those in our state struggling with addiction, regardless of the payer type. An option like this has only been offered in the past out of state to those who have commercial insurance and the ability to cash pay a hefty fee,” Leech said.

    “WVU Medicine’s Chestnut Ridge Center helped me find residential treatment when I desperately needed it. When I returned to Morgantown, I received outpatient services at the Chestnut Ridge Center, where they strengthened and supported my early recovery. As I started West Virginia Sober Living and Ascension Recovery Services in Morgantown, WVU Medicine was there to support me, provide guidance and mentorship, as well as partnership on a variety of initiatives. WVU Medicine has always been there for me, and I’m grateful to be able to give back to an organization that helped me and so many others in our state.”

    Ascension Recovery Services, located in Morgantown, specializes in addiction recovery and treatment.

    To make a gift to the Center for Hope and Healing Patient Care Fund, please visit give.wvu.edu/wvumedicine-rni and refer to fund 2W1371 in the comments box.

    For more information about the center or making a gift, please contact Laura McCall, senior director of development for the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, at 304-293-5757 or laura.mccall@hsc.wvu.edu.

    This gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the non-profit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

    Read article on WVUmedicine.org HERE 

  21. Black Diamond Attends The 16th Annual WVU Medicine Children’s Gala

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    This past weekend, The Black Diamond Realty team dressed in their finest attire and followed the yellow brick road to the Land of Oz at the 16th Annual WVU Medicine Children’s Gala. Black Diamond Realty was proud to celebrate the incredible healthcare that is provided by the WVU Medicine staff throughout the year and to support fundraising for the new women and children’s tower.

  22. Morgantown, WV – 2018 Top 100 Best Places to Live

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    #43

    On the Best Places to Live list for 2018, Morgantown appears on Livability.com’s Top 10 Cities for Affordable Health Care. Known primarily as home to West Virginia University and its 30,000 students, Morgantown has a wide variety of housing options and neighborhoods as well as downtown shops, restaurants and entertainment nightspots for students and residents. The median age here is 22.6 years old, which contributes to a youthful and fun local culture.

    Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) provides university students with free travel between the spread-out WVU campuses. With amenities like Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park and the Monongalia Arts Center at their fingertips, Morgantown residents never run out of things to do.

    Article by LIVABILITY

  23. Marcellus & Utica Shale – Activity On The Rise

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    Do you know Marcellus & Utica?  Let us introduce you to Mid-Atlantic’s most popular household names.

    Throughout the latter part of the past decade, most people in north central WV and southwestern PA had never heard of Marcellus or Utica. Fast forward ten years, Marcellus and Utica have become household names.  How did it all happen? What changes in the energy field have we experienced in the past decade?  Where are things heading in the future?  What challenges must we overcome in order to maximize natural gas’s potential?  This article drills down (pun intended) into Mid-Atlantic’s next energy powerhouse.

    During the first wave of oil and gas energy expansion, which started in 2008 and began declining in 2013-2014, drillers were using key geological metrics to “explore” Marcellus and Utica shale plays.  In the early years, positive results led to increased drilling activity.  Other companies took notice.  Before we knew it, north central WV and southwestern PA had a natural gas and oil boom occurring in its backyard.  Heavy drilling activity led to many service providers flocking to the area to secure profitable service contracts.  Service contract work includes all aspects of servicing a well, from start to finish, such as engineering, excavation, fracking, pressure control, water hauling, valve repair/monitoring, amongst many others.  Thousands moved to the area. Many of the workers were brought in from out-of-state because, our local workforce did not have the experience and expertise these companies needed.  Many of these workers stayed in local hotels/houses, ate at our restaurants/taverns and shopped in our malls and retail outlets.  Some businesses experienced exponential growth during this period.  As drilling activity continued to increase, OPEC nations flooded the global energy market.  Saturation led to quickly declining commodity pricing.  Once the commodity pricing dipped to a level close to or at “break even”, it no longer made economic sense for drillers to drill.  Over a period of a couple years, drillers slowed or completely halted drilling plans.  Why?  Supply outpaced the market.  Additionally, infrastructure, via pipelines, was not in place to efficiently transfer the gas to larger markets.

    For 24-36 months thereafter, Marcellus and Utica activity slowed dramatically.  Market saturation, which lead to depressed commodity pricing, were the primary culprits for the lull in drilling activity.  Most O&G drillers capped their wells and halted production.  The industry retracted and many companies went out of business or were absorbed. Major producers developed strategies to control growth and mitigate risk.  Many out of state service providers, who had moved to the region to capitalize on lucrative contracts, struggled to justify having a location within the Marcellus and Utica.  Many witnessed numerous businesses vacate in the middle of the night or file for bankruptcy protection against creditors.  In turn, this tailspin left some landlords in precarious positions with a tough decision of whether to “throw good money at bad money” in the way of hiring a real estate attorney to file suit or simply move on by looking for another tenant.  At Black Diamond Realty, we saw industrial real estate demand and office demand, albeit to a lesser extent, decrease dramatically.

    What has changed?  Has there been a resurgence?  Many have considered natural gas the cleaner wave of the future.  For decades, numerous challenges, which included regulatory, economic and intellectual constraints, existed making extraction and transmission difficult.  The story is changing. North central WV and southwestern PA are in the midst of a second wave of oil and gas expansion.  Unemployment rates are near record lows and wages are rising.  Hotel occupancy and ADR are sharply on the rise.  Restaurants are enjoying a resurgence in top line revenue.  All of this is the trickle-down effect sparked by a growing energy industry.

    There are three major economic drivers which are in various stages of planning, construction and implementation.  The first demand driver is natural gas pipelines.  Pipelines provide the infrastructure needed to deliver the natural gas to primary and secondary markets.  Simply put, northern West Virginia and southwestern PA are collectively sitting on more natural gas than the 250-mile region could ever feasibly consume.  Several, large-scale projects are in process which will forever change the landscape and natural gas economics.

    The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project, stretching 600 miles from Bridgeport, WV through Chesapeake, VA and ending in Robeson County, NC, is currently under construction.  According to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, “The infrastructure project will generate $377 million a year in energy cost savings, $28 million a year in new local tax revenue, 17,240 new jobs in the construction industry and 2,200 new jobs in manufacturing and other new industries.”   Another major pipeline is called the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).  The Mountain Valley Pipeline, stretching 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, will be up to 42” in diameter and will have a 50 foot easement (post-construction).  There will be three compressor stations along the route which include locations in Wetzel, Braxton and Fayette Counties in WV.  Both pipeline projects have faced several regulatory hurdles, including federal injunctions to halt construction, but many are optimistic the challenges will be overcome.  Many other pipeline projects are in the planning, construction and implementation phases.  ACP and MVP are just the tip of the iceberg.  According to MarcellusDrilling.com, “There is more than $23 billion in planned pipeline investment to build more than 3,200 miles of pipelines – for the Marcellus/Utica region.  If you add these 15 projects together (see chart), they will move another 17 billion cubic feet of Marcellus and Utica natural gas and 345,000 barrels of natural gas liquids (NGL) per day.”  Marcellus Drilling has provided a chart showing pipeline projects in various phases of the planning and implementation process. See below.
    The second demand driver is natural gas fired power plants.  Coal provides about one third of the United States’ electricity. Tides are turning with an abundance of gas available within the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.  On November 1, 2018, Sara Welch of Shale Gas Reporter, wrote an outstanding article (View Article Here) which forecasts natural gas powered plant production.  A few key takeaways can be found in the following statements, “Over the next several years, 26 combined-cycle gas-tubing power plant projects are planned for Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.  Pennsylvania will house the most with 15 to be built, contributing 14,730 MW of capacity.  Ohio will be home to eight projects that would add 7,695 MW of capacity.  Lastly, West Virginia is slated for three gas-fired power projects that would add more than 2,000 MW of capacity.”  Ms. Welch went on to translate how the electric power generation will translate into natural gas consumption:  “The proposed power generation in the Appalachian Basin is expected to come on line by 2020, adding about 1.16 Bcf/d of gas demand.”

    The third demand driver, which also poses the greatest downstream opportunity, is cracker plants.  Why?  Think chemistry.  Cracker plants have sophisticated equipment in which the “cracker” takes ethane, a component of natural gas and breaks it down into ethylene.  Extreme heat is used during the process to break apart the molecular bonds holding it together.  Ethylene is the root chemical for plastics, resins, adhesives and synthetic products used in every aspect of modern life.  Our society depends on this natural gas extraction process in order to enjoy many of the end products and daily conveniences, such as plastic containers, shirts, and plastic bags.  Cracker plants and large industrial facilities are necessary to make this happen.  One is already in the construction phase.   According to MarcellusDrilling.com, “Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC broke ground in 2017 on the $6 billion complex in Monaca, PA, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.  It is Shell’s first petrochemical plant built outside the Gulf Coast in decades.”  Two additional cracker plants are in various planning stages. The two other potential cracker plant locations are Belmont County, OH and Wood County, WV.

    Everyday Natural Gas to Everyday Products

    To fully capitalize on the O&G boom and recognize significant downstream economic opportunities, this region needs to overcome three primary challenges. The challenges listed below can be overcome via collaboration and cooperation amongst various public and private sectors.

    Black Diamond Realty continues to work to resolve some of the commercial real estate challenges.  John Denver wrote a popular song, Country Roads, in which “mountain mama” is an internationally recognizable phrase.  Our landscaping is picturesque.  Our mountains are breathtaking.  Both also create challenging topography.  Moving dirt and expanding utilities requires significant capital which ultimately drives up land costs.  Many Marcellus & Utica end-users (drillers, service providers) need large tracts of land for laydown yards, industrial buildings and eventually, as a downstream opportunity, manufacturing operations such as the plastics industry.  Industrial land is typically on the lower end of the commercial real estate value spectrum.  Industrial acreage in north central WV, on average, ranges in value from $75,000/acre to $225,000/acre.  Our mountain-filled region provides us with natural beauty and scenic enjoyment, but it also creates a reality in which there are few opportunities to secure large tracts of land at reasonable pricing.

    We would like to explore two cases that include many stakeholders, mixed with private investment, that resulted in positive outcomes for the community and business.  Both assets are currently being marketed by Black Diamond Realty.  Please spend a few minutes reviewing our detailed marketing flyer.
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    Speedway Business Park in Fairmont, WV

    In 1910, Michael J. Owens opened Owens Bottle Works on a 40 acre site in Fairmont, WV.  During its peak, Owens Illinois employed over 1,000 people and produced 180,000 bottles a day.  The site was operational from 1919-1982.  After closing its doors in the early 1980s, the site sat vacant for roughly 35 years.  A local entrepreneur and developer, Tom Laurita, purchased the asset with the intent of revitalizing Fairmont’s east side.  Mr. Laurita and his team, including Russell Bolyard, worked tirelessly and diligently with numerous federal, state, county and local agencies including WVDEP, City of Fairmont, amongst others.  Over a two year period, a plan was formulated then implemented to remediate and convert the brownfield site into a thriving business park.  Soil remediation, FEMA considerations and stream preservation were key factors in revitalizing this site.  For their efforts, Merit Development received 2016 Brownfield West Virginia Environmental Impact Award.  Today, infrastructure improvements are well underway and steel is rising from the once motionless dirt.  Boasting 40 acres less than one mile from I-79, Exit 137, Speedway Business Park has three new tenants with a fourth building under roof.  Explore this project via our detailed marketing flyer. Click HERE to view.
    Source:  Merit Development’s Development Conference Powerpoint slides.
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    Morgantown Industrial Park in Morgantown, WV

    Formerly 825 acres of farmland near the Monongahela River, today’s Morgantown Industrial Park started to take shape in December 1940.  In November 1941, the property was dubbed “Morgantown Ordinance Works” with a purpose of supporting the United States war efforts in World War II.  A plant was built to produce ammonia for army ammunition.  At its peak, the plant had more than 1,400 employees and produced about 18,700 tons of ammonia monthly.  Alcohol, hexamine and formaldehyde were also produced in the plant.  Near the end of World War II, operations ceased.  Morgantown Ordinance Works, owned by J.W. Ruby, took over the property and turned it into an industrial park.

    Fast forward several decades, and local entrepreneurs, Kevin and Glenn Adrian, purchased the park under Enrout Properties LLC.  They were attracted to the investment opportunity partially because of its tremendous access (truck, rail, river and barge) plus abundance of developable land.  The Adrians worked with state, county and local officials to create a tax increment financing (TIF) district.  According to Wikipedia, “TIF is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure and other community-improvement projects.”  Establishing a TIF in the industrial park allowed the Adrians to invest significant capital into excavation, site stabilization and infrastructure with the purpose of creating large industrial pads which are rare in north central WV.  In addition to TIF, the Adrians have worked with federal and state agencies to mitigate brownfield areas within the park.

    Today, Morgantown Industrial Park boasts 20+ diverse businesses that offer a range of industrial services and products.  On November 1, 2018, Dominion Post quantified the park’s success with the following TIF update:  “Established in 2008 with a base amount of approximately $39 million, the district was last assessed at about $79 million.”  The Adrians set out to further the legacy of 825 riverfront acres in Monongalia County.  Statistics show they have been very successful in overcoming challenges and capitalizing on industrial demand growth.  They are far from done. Dirt is currently being moved to create two 6+ acre sites and by mid-2019. The park will add over 30 acres of additional industrial sites including one site which will provide 20+ flat acres. It doesn’t stop there. Currently, the Adrian’s are working with the appropriate county and state organization looking to improve interstate access to the park which would provide over 100 acres of additional industrial sites. The Morgantown Industrial Park understands the potential downstream impact that the oil and gas boom could have on North Central WV. They plan to be ready with sites and infrastructure to support that growth. Explore this project via our detailed marketing flyer. Click HERE to view.
    Source:  http://www.uppermon.org/news/dominion%20post/DP-MIP-22Aug11.html, http://wajr.com/monongalia-county-commission-receives-good-news-on-tif-districts/

    Coal will, most likely, always be a source of energy in the United States.  It is virtually impossible to completely eliminate it as an energy source.  However, coal’s days of being the “black diamond” of West Virginia, are fading. Marcellus and Utica have taken center stage.

    Above Chart Source: www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/  


    Article By: David Lorenze

  24. Mon Health EMS gets new Gateway facility

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    Mon Health EMS officials were at The Gateway on Sept. 20 to show off their new digs — a two-story, 15,780 square-foot facility that serves dual roles as doctor’s office and EMS substation.

    While the  majority of the building houses Wedgewood Family Practice, roughly 1,000 square feet of the building contains a drive-through vehicle bay large enough for two ambulances and the needed accommodations — a day room with a kitchenette, seating and television, office space with multiple work stations, storage and restroom facilities.

    Mon Health EMS Director Dave Custer saidEMS operations began rolling out of the new facility earlier this month. “This is replacing and upgrading our station we had in Osage,” he said. “It’s a better location for us to respond, not only to the interstate quickly, but to Star City, Westover and the Blacksville area.” Custer said one ambulance is operating out of the new building, but a second could be added permanently or temporarily in the event of anticipated traffic disruptions or other circumstances. He went on to say that Mon Health EMS is looking at the Grafton Road area and the Pierpont/Cheat Lake area for additional ambulance staging locations.

    The agency already has an agreement with the Blacksville Volunteer Fire Department that allows an ambulance to be staged at the fire station. “By having stations out in all four quadrants of the county, we really can cover this county pretty well,” Custer said. Mon Health invested $5 million to build and equip the entire facility.

    Ben Conley, The Dominion Post
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    Are you interested in The Gateway as a new or additional location for your business? Click HERE to view our detailed marketing flyer for The Gateway and see what’s available within the park.
    Detailed Marketing Flyer Link

  25. Gee announces program for heart transplants

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    In many ways, WVU President Gordon Gee said, the land-grant university he leads is the heart of West Virginia. The university, in turn, put its recent focus on the hearts of West Virginia.

    WVU reinforced that commitment Wednesday with the announcement of the state’s first heart transplant program, to be part of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute. Gee was joined by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright, among others during a press conference held in the institute’s first-floor conference room.

    According to a WVU Medicine press release, a letter of intent was filed with the West Virginia Health Care Authority on Aug. 10. A certificate of need was filed Aug. 20. Wright said he anticipates the program will be up and running in 2019. He explained that WVU invested hundreds of millions in heart and vascular care over the last three years, including the construction of a 10-story, $200 million tower attached to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital and the recruitment of Dr. Vinay Badhwar to lead the institute.

    What we’ve found is when we put people, programs and the physical plant together, we can really do magical things here,” Wright said. “The results we’ve seen in these last 24 to 36 months are nothing short of amazing.” Badhwar said those results include the creation of the state’s first advanced heart failure program and the implementation of emerging artificial heart technology. There are currently 22 West Virginians awaiting a new heart. Being on a heart transplant list requires the patient live within four hours of a transplant center.

    What we’re trying to do is make sure people have the best possible health care in West Virginia. We should not have people going away to other places,” Gee said. “There’s no reason people should not come to this beautiful state and get the best possible health care, and that’s what we’re celebrating today. I want all of you to know you’ve made possible something very special.” Justice said the strides both West Virginia and WVU have made would be unbelievable as recently as 20 years ago. “Think about John Doe in West Virginia, how much he needs you. How much he needs the ability to not have to travel all over the place for decent health care, how much he needs you to be a star,” Justice said, later adding, “I mean it. There’s no way to be more proud of our state university than I am.

    Gee noted that heart disease is the state’s leading cause of death. He said WVU and WVU Medicine has the talent and determination to tackle it head-on. “If we have the will and courage to be great, we will be,” he said.

    Ben Conley, The Dominion Post 

  26. Possible new interstate exit

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    Westover mayor seeks support for possible new interstate exit

    Westover Mayor David Johnson encouraged citizens of Westover and council members to attend an upcoming Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting to show support for a possible new exit coming out of the Industrial Park.

    Johnson informed Westover council members about the meeting at the Westover city council meeting Monday. The MPO meeting will be from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, September 20th. “This Thursday, we have an MPO meeting at the council chambers,” he said.What they are going to discuss is the possibility of another way in and out of this Industrial Park out hereThe first initial idea was to go on past, out to where the overpass goes over the interstate and make that a full-fledged exit.

    Second ward council member Leonard Smith said, “I thought that’s what they were going to do.” Johnson said with studies on various possibilities, alternative routes and ways of doing things are necessary in case of problems arising, but the exit would be a good thing for Westover and its residents.

    The first option that we discussed was coming out where the Master Graphics Road is,” he said. “Just before you get to the overpass, there’s a road that turns down to your left. They want to come out of the Industrial Park and come out about where that road comes out because that Industrial Park comes clear out almost to the interstate, with the exception of a few properties between the two. They would have the off and on ramp there.” The significance of this is that we would be able to get about 90 percent of this big truck traffic out of Westover because about 90 percent of it will be able to get off and on at that exit, and we’d never see them on Dupont Road or on our streets, making the turns down there by the bank. You’d still have some local traffic, but you wouldn’t have the traffic like the big garbage trucks, especially the sand trucks from the oil and gas industry. They could all use that exit, and they’d be right on the interstate.

    Johnson said another benefit would be for the residents that live near the Industrial Park. “That coupled with the fact that everyone who lives out that way will not have to come all the way down by the school, all the way out Dupont Road, all the way down to the interstate,” he said. “They can get on the interstate right there and switch on and off. It will be very successful.” Johnson said funding would be the main issue to work through. “The exit at Star City is going to be completely redone in the next year and a half or so, and that money, that’s going to be funded by TIFF money. They already have the money for that” he said. “The problem with this new exit, or whatever alternative route we decide on, there’s no funding for it yet.” I do know this much, the MPO is going to put in whatever we decide on, they are going to put in for a—they have to change their long-term control plan and get that approved by the federal government. It’s going to be a process.

    After the meeting, Johnson issued a statement requesting residents to attend. “The meeting on Thursday is very important,” he said, “and I’d like to reach out to a lot of people that live on River Road and in that area, and everybody in Westover because we are being impacted by the trucks here in Westover. Not only do the people of River Road have to come through Westover and deal with that truck traffic as well, so they can just jump on the interstate.” I think the important thing is to have a good showing and have people here to voice their opinions to the MPO, and the people at the MPO will listen. They’re open-minded. Several of us think this interchange is the best option we have to look at.

    Rachel Ellis, For The Dominion Post

  27. Wedgewood Drive building prepares for $1 million in renovations

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    A former medical office at 300 Wedgewood Drive will be undergoing renovations to upgrade its space and will also provide “aesthetic love,” according to David Lorenze, principal for Black Diamond Realty LLC. “Structurally, it is a very sound building — it just needs some TLC,” Lorenze said. He said the facility will begin renovations in the first quarter of 2019 to develop a more modern look.

    The developer for the project is Glenmark Holding LLC. Lorenze said the building will be a versatile space that incorporates all types of businesses. The space offers more than 19,000 square feet, and the buyer is investing more than $1 million to redevelop the property. The funds for the renovations will allow the buyer to redesign the interior and exterior — permitting more creative liberty to make it a modern space, according to Lorenze.

    In addition to the aesthetics of the building itself, new landscaping will be another priority and there are plans to put  a playground in,  as well. “We have multiple floor plans at this point — that the Mills Group has put together in conjunction with the buyer — that lay out a number of different scenarios,” Lorenze said. “The goal is to cater to all office-use types.”

    300 Wedgewood Drive Rendering
    Photo Caption: This submitted artist rendering shows the plans for 300 Wedgewood Drive, a former medical office that is getting 1 million in renovations. (Artist Submitted Rendering)

    Lorenze said his company is looking to market to child care facilities, medical facilities and other professional office uses. The building will provide a space to suit the needs of the user, as well as give more opportunity to a range of businesses. “There are thousands of rooftops within a one-mile radius, and the way the property lays from it being all single-story, it just seems like a natural fit,” Lorenze said. “As Morgantown continues to grow, taking older facilities like this that served a purpose for many years and served the community, there is a point and time where it needs money injected into it to repurpose it, to further serve the market and growth in Morgantown.”

    Black Diamond Realty LLC’s role is to sell the property to the developer, then work with the developer to market and lease to businesses in the Suncrest area. “Suncrest as a whole is in high-demand, it has a lot of major employers,” Lorenze said. “Being in the Suncrest area is attractive for many folks, and our goal is to target businesses that want an affordable location outside of city limits.”

    For more information about this property, contact Black Diamond Realty at 304-413-4350.

    The Dominion Post, Tiffany Morgan

  28. Area Hotel Occupancy on the Rise

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    Monongalia, Preston enjoy hotel occupancy spike that beats even state’s solid year
    Hotel Occupancy Photo and Stats

    As West Virginia tourism officials celebrate increases in hotel occupancy, the numbers in Monongalia and Preston counties outpace even the state’s rise. Gov. Jim Justice recently touted a 16.1 percent increase in statewide hotel occupancy comparing June 2018 to June 2017. The local area has enjoyed a 17.9 percent hike in that same comparison, said Susan Riddle, executive director of the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    We put a pedal to the metal since the beginning of last year, and we haven’t looked back,” Riddle said, adding that she can look at any month and see an upward trend in bookings. Justice also said there was a 20 percent revenue increase in a year-over-year comparison to June 2017. In Mon and Preston, revenue was up 20.2 percent June over June. Every region of the state has seen increases, Justice said, with the first two quarters of 2018 showing hotel occupancy up 11.7 percent, with revenue growth of 14.9 percent.

    One of my first decisions in office was to launch a new tourism campaign that would spread that message like never before,” Justice said July 25. “West Virginians should be proud of what we’ve done here, because it takes all of us, telling our story and rolling out the welcome mat, to make this happen.

    From day one, the governor had a vision for what could happen with West Virginia tourism,” said state Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. “The success we’ve seen this year is a direct result of that vision and the governor’s commitment to growing our tourism industry. Tourism means jobs, and the numbers that the governor released today translate into more West Virginians working in a sector that still has enormous room to expand.

    STR, a global hotel research company, reported the statewide hotel occupancy rates. In Mon and Preston counties, there has been a significant increase since January 2017. Riddle said that means jumps in all categories from occupancy to revenue to demand. Mon and Preston have 28 lodging properties combined, resulting in 2,600 rooms available daily. Filling up those rooms with travelers generates sales tax dollars.

    We target everything we do. Our mission is one more night, one more dollar. It’s as simple as that. We don’t need to make it any more complicated,” Riddle said. “For every $100, CVB receives $3. It’s not just about people spending the night to go ahead and generate lodging tax, it’s what are they doing while they’re here.

    That entails looking at the four types of tourists Riddle claims frequent this area:

    Adventurers and explorers (the largest group),
    attendees,
    planners
    and relaxers.

    For us, our big draw, we have a synergy that is the combination of a lot of different benefits,” Riddle said. “We sell our region. We connect our local area with our audience.

    BY AMANDA SAVAGE DEPROSPERO The Dominion Post

  29. An Increase In Leads Generates Closed Deals

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    Historically, the commercial real estate market tends to slow during the winter season. At Black Diamond, we can confidently report the trend is quite the opposite this year. The new year has brought a vibrant market filled with deal making attitudes. For example, Black Diamond Realty has gained nearly 100 unique leads between industrial, investment, office, land and retail. These statistics are from folks who specifically reached out to us. There are countless others our team has targeted for product specific offerings.

    Leads translate into deals. Deal velocity is trending up. In quarter 1, Black Diamond Realty closed five deals in 2016 versus eight deals in 2017. With several weeks to go, Black Diamond Realty has already closed (leases and sales) 12 deals with a strong pipeline. Check out next month’s newsletter to get a snapshot of our Quarter 1 deals.

    Leads and deals have picked up across all sectors of commercial real estate, but there are shining stars setting the pace. Black Diamond Realty’s Top 5 Performers are revealed below.  These statistics are provided by LoopNet and represent a 90 day period from December 1, 2017 through the end of February.

    Investment160 Fayette Street in Morgantown, WV
    45,146 Search Displays
    743 Listing Views

    Special Purpose/Event Center/LandHeston Farm (Upper Level) in Pleasant Valley, WV
    42,462 Search Displays
    401 Listing Views

    Industrial LandVentura Drive in Fairmont, WV
    20,460 Search Displays
    289 Listing Views

    Sabraton Plaza1397 Earl Core Road in Morgantown, WV
    18,202 Search Displays
    219 Listing Views

    Industrial/Land1524 Grafton Road in Morgantown, WV
    17,590 Search Displays
    171 Listing Views

    A “search display” means a property was displayed as a potential fit based upon the criteria input by a specific buyer/tenant.  A “listing view” means that an individual clicked specifically on the property.  All of Black Diamond Realty’s Loopnet listings are directly linked to its website (www.blackdiamondrealty.net) which generates even greater exposure.

    At Black Diamond, we feel the regional market is heading in a positive direction on many different fronts.  Momentum is quickly building with tremendous economic excitement to come in the months and years ahead.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

  30. Happy 2018! Another Year Is In The Record Books

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    We hope you and your family had an enjoyable holiday season. The new year is a time to reflect and project. This monthly Black Diamond Realty newsletter reflects on 2017 while providing our projections pertaining to north central West Virginia’s economic activity in 2018.

    It was a record breaking year for Black Diamond and many other companies in north central WV. While north central WV remains consistently vibrant, the tides are slowly turning for the state as a whole, and WV’s entire economic fleet appears to be heading toward brighter days. Several critical sectors led the charge with positive economic announcements in 2017.

    Energy was the cream that rose to the top. Several large pipeline projects are at various stages of construction with the finish line inching closer. Pipelines open up regional, metropolitan markets to WV’s gas production. A cracker plant is under construction in Beaver County, PA with rumors of potentially two additional crackers being built in OH and WV (Parkersburg area). Crackers dissect elements of natural gas into various chemicals which should result in a manufacturing expansion for companies who want to be near critical elements of their production process. Pipelines and crackers are creating a newfound buzz for the energy sector. Black Diamond can testify to the energy sector’s expansion in 2017: Industrial sector leads paced other sectors with a total of 133 unique leads. Black Diamond closed 13 deals with energy related entities.

    The buzz does not stop at our state or even national borders. China Energy Investment Corp signed a memorandum of understanding with WV leadership to invest $83.7 billion over 20 years in various energy related ventures.  Power plants are one potential investment angle. Two gas fired power plants are at varying phases of approval to be constructed in the region. One is in Harrison County. Click here to learn more: http://harrisoncountypower.com/  Oil and gas activity is energizing our regional economy by bringing high paying jobs to our market. The money from these jobs is spent on housing (hotels, apartments), food (grocery stores, restaurants) and entertainment.

    Infrastructure has been a hot topic in West Virginia for many decades. Band-aids have been our state’s application of choice. However, 2017 brought a different style of leadership aimed at changing WV’s story. Governor Justice and his team formulated a plan to use future promised tax dollars to secure ~$3 billion worth of funds to complete road infrastructure improvement projects. Our roads have already benefitted from the Roads to Prosperity Amendment and should improve further over the next decade. Infrastructure is a critical variable for many sectors considering economic expansion.

    Since accepting his role as WVU’s 24th President, Dr. E. Gordon Gee has been focused on expanding the university’s outreach while maintaining its mission of supporting prosperity for the mountain state. WVU Medicine has been aggressively expanding with 2017 announcements that include a $150 million, 10-story children’s and women’s tower on WVU Medicine’s main campus, a $12 million inpatient residential drug treatment facility near Mylan Park (Morgantown), plus it opened a $13.9 million, 25,000 square foot new outpatient facility in Fairmont, WV. Mon General Hospital is also in expansion mode. North central WV should welcome this “medical arms race” as it directly results in a higher quality of life via greater healthcare access, plus economic benefits, including high paying jobs.

    So, what do we have to look forward to in 2018? The energy sector will carry 2017’s momentum into the new year and we will begin to see the fruits of the road bond’s labor as construction projects start. with the additional expansion by WVU Medicine and two prominent interstate developments (White Oaks Business Park in Bridgeport and West Ridge in Morgantown), north central WV will see significant growth with many positive announcements. As the aforementioned economic drivers come to fruition, other areas in the state are also poised for growth. Also, since businesses will have greater discretionary capital to put to work under Trump’s new tax plan, look for businesses to be more aggressive with expansion efforts and hiring practices.

    Best wishes for a joyous and prosperous 2018!

  31. The Retail Apocalypse Is Not Among Us All

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    “The Retail Apocalypse” is a great catch phrase that grabs attention. News outlets make sensational claims that Amazon is destroying the retail sector and that, across the board, retail real estate is in big trouble. These claims are overstated and misguided. The retail industry isn’t dying, but rather evolving. The following article will explore three topics: retail real estate that is in trouble, retail real estate that is well positioned and the perceived 400-pound gorilla in the room, Amazon.

    Enclosed malls are facing the most trouble right now. While foot traffic in enclosed malls continues to decline1, the significant operating expenses from expansive common areas remain. Assets in secondary and tertiary markets are particularly at risk. Businesses most affected by the retail apocalypse are retail clothing and electronic stores in enclosed malls. We will see malls close soon. However, many malls will be reinvented with new and innovative uses. Across the country we are already seeing “dead malls” get new life with unique uses such as: satellite college campuses, sports complexes, multifamily, etc. The Google Glass headquarters occupies a 500,000-square foot office that was previously an abandoned mall in Mountain View, California.  Locally, Mylan Pharmaceuticals was recently approved for a 24,000-square foot lab in the former JC Penny at the Mountaineer Mall. Enclosed malls are in the most trouble, but have significant opportunity for reinvention.

    Retail sectors that remain healthy include: single tenant properties (free standing businesses such as banks, fast food, convenience store, etc), neighborhood retail (including grocery stores), power centers (developments with home improvement/ Walmart as anchors), and strip centers. Think about some of your local retail strip centers. How many of the tenants are truly threatened by Amazon? Many, if not all, of the tenants are service providers: medical, financial, insurance, restaurant, cell phone store, hair salon, etc. Even if the few retail users within a strip center leave, conversion to the next use is fairly easy.

    Amazon and the growth of online shopping have certainly affected the retail landscape and hurt some sectors. However, only 8.5% of retail sales take place online. Amazon only accounts for 1.5% of the retail sales in the US2. In fact, most retail sales still occur in brick and mortar stores. A bigger factor than Amazon is changing consumer preferences. In 2016, for the first time ever Americans spent more eating out and at bars than on groceries. Americans’, especially millennials, crave experiences over material goods. Millennials spend less on clothing and more on dining, concerts, and travel. Naturally, clothing retailers are going to feel the pain of these changing consumer demands.

    Creative destruction is a perpetual force. Just as Netflix destroyed Blockbuster, we are seeing some retail industries being destroyed. However, the decline in one industry creates opportunity and space for new businesses concepts to satisfy new consumer needs. Visionary developers will find solutions based on what the market demands.

     

    (1) (https://retailnext.net/en/benchmark/retail-performance-pulse-july-2017-store-results/)
    (2) (http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-shouldnt-be-blamed-for-retail-apocalypse-2017-7)

  32. Defense In Depth to cater to new and experienced shooters

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    MORGANTOWN — Defense In Depth, a new firearms education/training center and retailer in Morgantown, aims to cater to the needs of new and experienced shooters alike with its state-of-the-art facility.

    Located in Sabraton Plaza, Defense In Depth is a 20,000-square-foot, $11 million center featuring a 75-foot long indoor gun range with 16 lanes, classrooms, a 30-foot long computer simulation screen and retail showroom.

    5a1c8cc8e7ce0.image

    In the end, Leech said they wanted the business to focus on education, training and situational awareness regarding firearms, with actual gun sales being thrown into the mix last.

    “You can buy a piano or a guitar, but that doesn’t mean you know how to play. The same thing applies with guns,” Leech said. He noted that Defense In Depth will offer friendly expert advice regardless of a shooter’s level of experience so they feel comfortable and can improve.

    Leech said Defense In Depth has 26 specialists on hand, all of whom have experience working with firearms via the military, law enforcement and other agencies. He said 2,000 job applications were filed and of the 26 who were hired, they bring a collective 300 years of experience.

    Brett Wingard, one of the range safety officers, has trained more than 10,000 Boy Scouts in the use of firearms.

    Lew Soccorsi, Defense In Depth’s general manager and director of training, said the ultimate goal of any situation is to avoid conflict. However, that isn’t always an option, which is why the center focuses just as much emphasis on when and when not to use a firearm as much as how to use one.

    These lessons can be brought to life on the Ti Training simulator, which has more than 800 scenarios and 30,000 potential outcomes. Adding to atmosphere is the use of actual firearms that have been tweaked to fire compressed air, generating actual recoil. New scenarios can be generated simply by taking a photo of a real place and integrating it with the simulation system.

    “It takes away the first-time jitters for people that never held a gun and its fun, kind of like a video game,” he said.

    Soccorsi said Defense In Depth will host an active shooting information seminar from 11 a.m. to noon, and from 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. on Dec. 2, and everyone is welcome.

    During the 2012 mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater, he explained many people only had one option to keep their loved ones safe and that was to lay on top of them. Some died as a result.

    “We are teaching another option,” Soccorsi said. “We see these tragedies on the news, but I don’t think we give them much thought as to how this might affect us in little old Morgantown.”

    Soccorsi said 30 different classes will be held at Defense In Depth, including those for women led by a female instructors to those who have never held a firearm before.

    Nick DeMedici, former Monongalia County deputy and state trooper, is the director of sales and training for the center. He said that personalized attention also applies to firearms sales.

    Defense In Depth will work to make sure the shooter and the gun match up in terms of size and the role that gun is intended for. He added that guests can rent from the 130 firearms set aside for use on its indoor range. Among them is the Sig Sauer P320, the 9mm pistol recently ordered by the U.S. Army to replace its current stock of Berettas.

    The range boasts a state-of-the-art ventilation system that removes lead particulates and the smell of burnt powder almost immediately. This, he said, allows shoppers to effectively test drive the guns they’re thinking about buying, something very few shops can provide. Various programmable settings means shooters can set up timed exercises in which the targets are shrouded in strobe lighting.

    DeMedici said Defense In Depth has about $7 million worth of inventory up for sale — new guns, used guns, ammunition, holsters, magazines, rifle cases, targets, apparel and other accessories. Anything that isn’t available in the store, he said, can be viewed and ordered at their kiosk and shipped directly to the customer’s home.

    Also on the retail floor is the workshop of gunsmith Malcolm Rogers, who can clean guns after patrons practice, customize their guns, re-barrel them for a different caliber and even take a look at guns that aren’t functioning to their full capacity.

    “We can modify things in any way — as long as it’s safe — to make them more comfortable,” he said.

    With the simulation setup, gun range, rental services, retail space and gunsmith all in one location, Soccorsi said there isn’t anything like it within 500 miles of Morgantown or the East Coast.

    As a thank-you to veterans, military personnel, law enforcement and emergency service workers, Defense In Depth will have a soft opening day for them from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Nov. 28. The grand opening and ceremonial ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 1. An entire month of opening specials, giveaways and events will follow.

    by Conor Griffith STAFF WRITER. Click here to view this article at Theet.com

  33. WVU Medicine Children’s Announces $152-Million Project

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    WVU Medicine Children’s growing into new tower to be added onto J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital

    Three-year, $152-million project to add 150 beds

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Hospitals announced today (Nov. 16) plans to construct a 10-story tower dedicated to WVU Medicine Children’s to address capacity issues and better serve the healthcare needs of all of West Virginia’s women and children. As a result of the project, 150 beds will be added to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.

    “As West Virginia’s leading academic medical center, we have a responsibility to the children of our state and their parents to provide the highest level of care close to home,” Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, said. “The demand for our services has increased so that we must grow in order to meet their needs.”

    The $152-million tower will take three years to complete. It will include:

    • Entry, registration, administration, outpatient clinics, and building services
    • Loading dock, dietary services, diagnostic imaging, and connection to the Southeast Tower (the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute tower)
    • Operating rooms, cardiac catheterization, and endoscopy facilities
    • A 20-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and 10-bed procedure/sedation unit
    • A 50-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
    • A 40-bed pediatric acute care unit
    • A 30-bed obstetrical unit with potential for expansion
    • Pediatric subspecialty and maternal-fetal medicine clinics

    All of the inpatient rooms will be private. The tower will also include a satellite pharmacy, laboratory, respiratory therapy, and a cafeteria.

    “This new building will allow us to match our expanded programs for the women and children of West Virginia with a state-of-the-art facility,” J. Philip Saul, M.D., executive vice president of WVU Medicine Children’s, said. “The goal is for no child who needs us to leave the state for care.”

    PHOTO CAPTION: (From left to right) Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System; Gordon Gee, WVU president and chair of the West Virginia University Health System Board of Directors; J. Philip Saul, M.D., executive vice president of WVU Medicine Children’s, and Natalie Jefferis, former WVU Medicine Children’s patient and member of the WVU Medicine Children’s Leadership Council

    The new Children’s tower will be attached to the southeast tower (WVU Heart and Vascular Institute). The building will extend southward to Medical Center Drive.

    The construction of the tower will be subject to Certificate of Need approval by the West Virginia Health Care Authority. Construction costs are estimated to be $105.8 million with the remaining $46.2 million for financing and other related costs. A capital campaign will be launched to raise $60 million for the project. WVU Hospitals will finance the remainder of the cost. No state funds will be sought, and no extraordinary rate increase is anticipated as a result of the construction.

    “This is a necessity, not a nicety,” Gordon Gee, WVU president and chairman of the West Virginia University Health System Board of Directors, said. “The children and families we serve will be relying on our friends and alumni, our businesses, the people of West Virginia, and the Mountaineer Nation – wherever they may be – to pitch in and to make this project a reality. We’re launching this campaign right now, right here.”

    The tower is anticipated to be open to its first patient in late fall/early winter 2020.

    Click hear to read the article at WVUMedicine.org

  34. October Newsletter

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    Roads to Prosperity

    In 1971, West Virginia’s country roads became a main stream topic when John Denver released his international hit song. The serene views and natural beauty are challenging to enjoy without proper infrastructure to access them. Governor Justice’s “Roads to Prosperity” plan has the potential to positively influence West Virginia’s future. The goal is embedded in the plan’s slogan: No New Tax. Better Roads. More Jobs. Simple, straightforward and packed with tremendous opportunity to change our state’s story.

    West Virginia residents are on the precipice of a monumental opportunity. New/Improved roads could be the stimulus for an economic boom via job creation plus greater accessibility and safety. Click the following links to see the: 10 Good Reasons to Say Yes! provided by TRIP, and the: Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017 provided by the WV Chamber of Commerce.

    How could this vote positively affect the northern part of the state? Click the following link to review the proposed road projects that will be completed after the road bond is approved: Proposed Road Projects

    Polls are open from now until October 7th. Now is the time to positively influence West Virginia’s future can help change our state’s story. New/Improved “country roads” will make it easier for people to enjoy our state’s beauty.

  35. Crossings Construction Continues – The Dominion Post

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    Luxury Living

    Construction continues on a new senior living community on Point Marion Road.

    Scheduled to open in fall 2018 near The Pines Country Club, the 8.9-acre Crossings at Morgantown will include 175 senior living units — 84 of them independent, 59 units of assisted living and 32 secured units of memory care. The Crossings at Morgantown will be operated by Harmony Senior Services, a management services company with experience in senior living based in Roanoke, Va.Construction_Continues_The_Dominion_Post_2

    The Dominion Post reached out to the company to find out if anyone has yet expressed interest in the community, but representatives from Harmony Senior Services declined to comment, noting that advertising for the Crossings hasn’t begun yet.

    According to the Crossings’ website, the community’s amenities will include an on site fitness center, a pub, beauty/barber shop, library, and a computer lab. According to Black Diamond Realty, this $35 million development will create about 45 full-time-equivalent jobs initially. The Crossings at Morgantown is expected to generate 100-130 part-time and full-time jobs over time. 

    View additional photos at The Dominion Post.

  36. Black Diamond Prepares Dinner for the Rosenbaum Family House – 9/11

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    On September 11th Black Diamond Realty prepared dinner for the guests of Rosenbaum Family House, a place for adult patients and their families to stay while receiving medical care at WVU’s Ruby Memorial Hospital. The team served hot meatball subs with a fresh garden salad and warm cookies for dessert. As always, the overwhelming joy and gratitude was a wonderful gift in itself.

    For information about the Rosenbaum Family House, and how you can help, click the link below.
    http://wvumedicine.org/services/rosenbaum-family-house/

  37. September Newsletter

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    View our September Newsletter: Black Diamond Trophy Reenergizes a Rivalry While Industrial Demand Ramps Up

    Click Here!

  38. WVU-led research team lays foundation for natural gas storage ‘hub’; opportunity for economic growth in the region

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    It is no secret that the region around West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio has abundant natural gas resources, but can the three states uncover the keys to turning those resources into economic growth? West Virginia University-led research may have some of the answers.

    On August 29, WVU is releasing to the public a study that shows how the region can support storage facilities that are critical for attracting petrochemical and related industries to the area. Researchers will present the data at a technical workshop in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, hosted by the Eastern Petroleum Technology Transfer Council, PTTC, at WVU.

    Led by Doug Patchen, director of the WVU Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Consortium and the Eastern PTTC, researchers from the geological surveys in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio studied geologic formations that could offer suitable locations for developers to build underground facilities to store natural gas liquids from Marcellus and Utica wells.

    The team identified and mapped all potential options for subsurface storage of natural gas liquids along the Ohio River from southwestern Pennsylvania to eastern Kentucky, and the Kanawha River in West Virginia. The researchers focused on three options for subsurface storage.

    One option includes areas where the Salina F Salt is at least 100 feet thick and suitable for solution mining, a type of mining that uses a liquid such as water injected through a borehole to dissolve and extract salts and minerals.

    Another option includes areas where the Greenbrier Limestone is present 1,800 to 2,000 feet below the surface and is at least 40 feet thick. Converting existing sandstone reservoirs in depleted gas fields and inactive gas storage fields to natural gas liquids storage is the third option.

    Previously, the consortium had conducted studies of the Marcellus and Utica shale gas plays. Results from those studies have been used by both small producers such as Northeast Natural Energy and large multinationals such as Exxon and have helped fuel the region’s shale gas boom. This latest work was conducted as part of the Tri-State Shale Coalition, an innovative cross-border collaboration among Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and a critical key for unlocking the region’s economic opportunity, according to its members.

    The Coalition was created following a collaborative agreement signed in October 2015 by Governors’ offices in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Charter members include the Benedum Foundation, a charitable organization, and Team NEO, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Vision Shared, all non-profit economic development organizations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

    A public-private partnership, the coalition brings together workforce development organizations, academic institutions such as WVU, and economic development groups to strategically advance the area as a “super-region” for petrochemical, plastics fabrication and advanced manufacturing jobs and investments.

    “Recognition of the enormous opportunity for economic development based upon shale gas, including downstream modern manufacturing, was the motivation for the Governors of West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to agree to collaborate to maximize the opportunity,” said William Getty, Benedum Foundation president.

    The WVU Energy Institute secured $100,000 from the Benedum Foundation to support the study. That amount was matched by a total of $100,000 more from AEP, Antero, Blue Racer, Charleston Area Alliance, Chevron, Dominion, EQT, First Energy/Team NEO, Mountaineer NGL Storage LLC, Noble Energy, Southwestern Energy, XTO Energy and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.

    Click here to view the article at WVUToday.

     

  39. Opening Day – WV Box & Ship – The Dominion Post

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    A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday for WV Box & Ship, a new business at 1405 Earl. L Core Road. WV Box & Ship is a center for packaging, shipping, printing, and business service needs. Its goal is to save people and businesses money with quality products and customer service.

    Hours are from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday. Find out more info at wvboxandship.com or call 304.322.2192.

    – The Dominion Post

     

     

  40. July Newsletter

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    View our July Newsletter: See What’s OPENING SOON In The Sabraton Plaza!

    Click Here!

  41. Black Diamond Volunteers to Support Empty Bowls Monongalia

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    Are you feeling hungry? Is your stomach growling? No problem. There are, most likely, plenty of food options in your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. Running low on food? Morgantown has hundreds of restaurant options. A quick drive will satisfy your need. It seems simple. For 16,000+ Monongalia County residents, the equation is much more complicated. That’s right, Monongalia County’s food insecure population would fill WVU’s Coliseum with a line of 2,000 standing outside.

    Empty Bowls Monongalia is celebrating its 11th year. Empty Bowls’ mission is to raise food, money and resources to support local food pantries and back pack programs in Monongalia County. Every year, Empty Bowls has multiple fundraisers. Its biggest event, Soup and Bread Luncheon, was held at Mylan Park on February 25th. Over 1,700 people attended. As a 100% volunteer-run organization, 92% of the funds raised are given to support non-profit organizations focused on helping Monongalia County’s food insecure population. In addition to Black Diamond Realty’s annual donation at the Emerald Level, Murphy Holloway and Dave Lorenze volunteered their time at the annual luncheon. For more information, please visit www.ebmon.org

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  42. A Strong Outlook for Industrial Demand

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    As real estate professionals, the BDR team is often asked these two questions:  How are things going in our market and what are you seeing? Here’s what we have to say in response to these popular questions:

    BDR has experienced unseasonable demand during what is traditionally the slowest time of year in commercial real estate.  Although demand has increased in all sectors, the industrial sector is leading the charge in 2017.  There are so many factors that affect a market.  Most of these factors are outside of our regional control.  Each sector under the commercial real estate umbrella is different and driven by varying economic forces which can also be directly affected by macroeconomic factors stemming from federal policy and regulation.

    Many believed Trump’s surprising presidential election would result in pro-business policies.  Time will tell on that one.  Many also thought Trump’s election would result in pro-energy policies.  In less than two weeks in office, we are already seeing this bear some truth.  Within his first week of office, President Trump signed an executive order to encourage federal review folks to pass Trans Canada’s resubmittal of the Keystone Pipeline project in the Dakotas.  According to Marcellus Drilling News, “On January 19, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to approve and issue a certificate to Columbia Pipeline’s Leach Xpress and Rayne Xpress pipeline projects.  This is fantastic news for the Marcellus/Utica region.”  While traveling in Morgantown, have you looked over at the acres upon acres of green pipe being stored in Morgantown Industrial Park?  We are not getting the world’s longest water slide, but we will begin to hear about progress relating to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile interstate natural gas transmission line. The project will begin in 2017 and stretch from Harrison County, WV to Chesapeake County, VA and Robeson County, NC.

    What does all of this mean for the region?  Commodity pricing has been suppressed due to an oversupply of natural gas in the market.  Two factors will increase demand:  Pipelines and cracker plants.  We have already touched on pipelines.  There are currently three cracker plants being consider in the region.  One is moving forward in Monaca, PA with two additional cracker plants still in the planning stages.  Cracker plants effectively isolate the molecular components (think chemistry class) in natural gas which are then used in other manufacturing processes such as the development of various plastics.  Due to high usage needs and the expense of transportation, many believe manufacturing will follow and locate within close proximity of the cracker plants.  This results in more jobs for the region and will undoubtedly have a trickle-down economics effect on various sectors.  When looking to open a location, many energy companies have a need for industrial space.

    How can you tell demand has increased in the industrial sector?  Black Diamond Realty records and tracks every lead that comes into our office via phone and internet.  Since Election Day (November 8, 2016), there have been 27 unique leads that have come into our office.  This number is in line with the number of industrial leads we typically see in an entire year.  Things are looking bright for the industrial sector.  Act now before pricing increases.

  43. Reflecting & Projecting

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    REFLECTING ON 2016

    There were some economic positives in 2016. Interest rates remained low while capital slowly became more attainable, resulting in a demand for investment/income-producing assets. Education and health care remained strong in Morgantown and other parts of north central WV. Respectively, the West Virginia University Board of Governors unanimously approved a $1.04 billion budget for the fiscal year which began on July 1, 2016. (WVUToday) Ruby Memorial Hospital built a 10-story tower, totaling $220 million, that will be home to 750 new jobs, and Mon General Hospital opened a three building, 150,000 square foot, office campus.

    These recession-resistant sectors make Morgantown, and other communities in north central WV, such as Bridgeport, attractive investment options that garner attention from out-of-state money. This is evidenced in several large deals in 2016. We would be remiss without mentioning the new I-79 interchange in Morgantown. Metro News states, “A study of the entire development on both sides of the interstate predicted a $1 billion economic impact on the region annually. The impact study indicated the TIF district and incoming developers could support 9,900 jobs by 2025.”

    Jobs lead to disposal income which ultimately drives an economy. Although there were economic spotlights to be proud of, 2016 was a challenging year for many commercial real estate sectors. Much of the sluggish business climate in WV and southwestern PA can be attributed to the energy sector slowdown. The rapid decline of coal, coupled with the oversupply of natural gas/oil, negatively affected this region’s economy. Decreased energy-sector demand for office and industrial space led to increased vacancy. As a direct result of this climate, restaurant receipts, retail sales and hotel occupancy all followed suit. Energy sector downturn hurt. In our home base of Morgantown and much of north central WV, there was enough positive economic activity to downplay these challenges.

    2017 OUTLOOK

    What is on the horizon for 2017? Well, for many, the presidential election was seen as a pro-energy and pro-business election. Time will tell on both. However, in the last two months, BDR saw an uptick in office and industrial demand via phone call leads. We feel this trend will continue as we move into what we believe will be a healthier economic year with less regulation and greater consumer confidence. OPEC’s announcement to reduce oil supply is a major win for our region. Rising oil and gas prices result in greater drilling activity which leads to more jobs. Average consumers dislike paying more at the pump, but for WV and the Marcellus/Utica Shale territory, paying a little more in gas results in hundreds of high-paying jobs that support regional economic growth.

    Looking to the new year, BDR is poised to capitalize on north central WV’s growth potential, including the energy, education, medical, and government sectors.

    As you sit down to set your 2017 personal and company goals, remember this important quote: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” From our team to yours, we wish you a healthy, prosperous and joyful 2017.