Comments Off on Morgantown made the list for “20 Best Small Towns to Retire”
When you’re ready to retire, we’ve got a destination. Whether you prefer beaches, mountains, cities or college towns, there’s a match for you. We looked at small towns with populations up to 100,000 residents that have been touted for their low cost of living, affordable housing, public safety, good-quality healthcare and low tax rates.
We also looked at towns with lots to do for active retirees, including outdoor recreation, historic sites, live music, cultural performances, sporting events and bike trails. Many of these picks are in close proximity to universities and strollable historic districts with shopping, coffee shops and restaurants.
Here are 20 of our favorite small towns all across the country that are worthy of being selected as your retirement destination of choice.
Greenville, South Carolina
Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville offers a captivating mix of natural beauty and Southern charm. The climate is mild, the cost of living is low and there is a lot to do thanks to a thriving food scene and easy access to hiking and biking trails, including those at Paris Mountain State Park. The centerpiece of Greenville is Falls Park on the Reedy, a 26-acre urban oasis that boasts a waterfall, dog-friendly paths and a 345-foot-long pedestrian footbridge. Stop in Spill the Beans for a morning cuppa or afternoon scoop of ice cream.
Iowa City, Iowa
College towns, like Iowa City, make great places to retire thanks to an abundance of sporting events, lectures and artistic performances. There are also on-campus art galleries and museums, like the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History. In Iowa City, you’ll find a low crime rate and plenty of good doctors, thanks to the nationally ranked University of Iowa Health System. Cheer at a football game at Kinnick Stadium, home of the Hawkeyes, or stroll the Literary Walk, which celebrates the works of nearly 50 accomplished writers with ties to Iowa City.
Home to the University of Kansas, Lawrence is a quintessential college town with arts, culture, sports and plenty of open, green spaces. It’s also a great place to retire thanks to affordable home prices and zero estate tax. It’s among the most bike-friendly cities, too. There are miles of bike lanes and bike paths across Lawrence. Stroll across the beautiful historic district, which has plenty of coffee shops, boutiques, pubs and cafés. The Lawrence Farmers’ Market is the place to be on Saturday mornings for locally roasted coffee and organic produce.
In the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke distinguishes itself as a destination of choice for outdoor-loving retirees. Enjoy a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway or hike to the Roanoke Star, the world’s largest man-made star that wows with views across the Roanoke Valley. Downtown, Center in the Square is home to several attractions, including the Harrison Museum of African American Culture and Roanoke Pinball Museum. A move to Roanoke rewards with low median home prices, easy access to top-quality healthcare and, of course, fresh mountain air.
Carmel has a lot to offer those seeking the perfect retirement destination, including arts, culture, shopping and public parks. It’s also a short drive from the state’s capital, Indianapolis. Biking is popular, thanks to the Monon Trail, a paved rails-to-trails path that stretches 20 miles from Carmel to Indianapolis. Eight bike rental stations along the path make biking the trail accessible to anyone. To be sure, Carmel is more than just a suburb of Indianapolis. Carmel has its own symphony orchestra, world-class performing arts center and Carmel Christkindlmarket, a German-style holiday market.
Franklin may be just 30 minutes south of Nashville, but it’s got plenty to offer on its own, including golf courses, historic sites, art galleries and beautiful parks. It’s also a popular home for celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman which affords them easy access to all of the big city amenities of Nashville. Franklin is home to the double-arched Natchez Trace Bridge, which is photo-worthy year-round, but offers sensational views of the surrounding landscape from on top of the bridge in the fall. Stroll the 16-block historic district for quaint boutiques and delicious brunch spots, like Ruby Sunshine. It’s easy to love Franklin’s abundance of sunny days, little snow accumulation, low state taxes and a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities.
The small town of Eagle has a lot that makes this Boise suburb appealing to active retirees, including access to hiking and skiing, a top-ranked golf course, loads of city events, and a walkable downtown district with boutiques, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops. It’s easy to love the laid-back atmosphere and gorgeous mountain scenery. Enjoy a sandy swimming beach in summer at Eagle Island State Park or get in a few hours of skiing in winter at Bogus Basin. Creative types can sign up for a class at Fusions Glass Studio.
Cedar Park, Texas
Set in Texas Hill Country, Cedar Park wows with beautiful green spaces, scenic wine trails, public golf courses, and fashionable boutiques like Honey & Hay, which sells stylish home decor and seasonal gifts. Ample sunshine, plentiful outdoor recreation, professional sports and no state income tax make Cedar Park a dream for retirees. Stroll the Cedar Park Sculpture Garden on Main Street, then take in an ice hockey game at HEB Center and root for the Texas Stars. When you want to go into the city, Austin is an easy 30-minute drive.
For warm winters, the fashionable Tucson suburb of Catalina Foothills is a favorite place to retire. It’s also one of the best places to live in the entire Tucson area thanks to multiple golf courses, a flourishing food scene, and numerous hiking trails across Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon. Catalina Foothills is also a stone’s throw from Saguaro National Park, which is home to the largest cacti in the United States. There are plenty of amazing restaurants too, including open-air Contigo Latin Kitchen and Fini’s Landing.
There’s a lot to love about Charlottesville, including historic landmarks, world-class wineries, public art, and, of course, the University of Virginia, which means plenty of great music and interesting speakers come through town. Explore Monticello, home to our third president, Thomas Jefferson. Then make stops for reds, whites and rosés along the Monticello Wine Trail. The IX Art Park is a small outdoor park with murals, sculptures and a concert stage. Outdoor-loving retirees will enjoy being in close proximity to Shenandoah National Park, which has more than 500 miles of hiking trails.
Bozeman ranks among the top places to retire thanks to quality healthcare, beautiful mountain scenery, and lots of cultural activities, including the opera, symphony, live concerts and ballet. Of course, outdoor recreation is tops, too. There are two nearby ski resorts – Big Sky and Bridger Bowl – as well as lots of hiking and biking trails. Bozeman is also less than 90 minutes from Yellowstone National Park. Dining options are endless, too. You’ll find everything from fresh sushi to smoked barbecue to elevated ramen, as well as five breweries.
Set on the eastern shore of sprawling Lake Champlain in Vermont, Burlington is a dream for water-loving retirees who are all about the lake life, whether sailing, kayaking or motor boating. On the Adirondacks’ largest lake, you can launch boats of all kinds. Off the water, the pedestrian-friendly Church Street Marketplace draws in visitors and residents alike with eclectic art galleries, food carts, bookstores and outdoor gear shops, even a Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop. For lifelong learners, Vermont residents aged 65 and up receive free tuition at the University of Vermont.
Set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Easton is a stone’s throw from the Chesapeake Bay, a popular destination for sailing and boating. Stroll the charming tree-lined streets of Easton for antique shops, stylish boutiques, award-winning restaurants and ice cream parlors. A favorite is Storm and Daughters Ice Cream. Take in a performance at the Avalon Theatre, then revel in green spaces like Idlewild Park and Thompson Park. Access to health care is very good thanks to a regional health system affiliated with the University of Maryland.
There’s a lot to do in Cheyenne, especially for those who are all about cowboy and railroad history. Western heritage is huge in Cheyenne, so it’s no surprise that Cheyenne is home to the world’s largest outdoor rodeo. At the Cheyenne Depot Museum, you can learn all about the history of the Union Pacific Railroad, which opened the West up to the masses. There’s also country line dancing, horseback riding, fishing and hiking at Vedauwoo Recreation Area. A real bonus for retirees, Wyoming is among the most tax-friendly states in the US.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Home to West Virginia University, Morgantown is a popular place to retire thanks to a low cost of living, plenty of public parks, and lots of on-campus diversions, like football games, extension classes, a symphony orchestra and an art museum. The university also adds to the abundance of medical services available in this small town. There are plenty of ways to savor the town’s natural beauty too, including hiking Dorsey’s Knob for views across the Appalachian Mountains. Hungry? Grab a bite at Table 9, a modern gastropub, or Iron Horse Tavern, a go-to for great pub grub.
In Washington, look to Richland for sunny days, delicious wine, public parks and easy access to healthcare thanks to its proximity to several large hospital systems. Washington has no state income tax, so retirees can hold onto more of their money. Water activities are popular thanks to a location at the confluence of the Columbia and Yakima Rivers. Located in Washington Wine Country, wine tasting is popular, and there are plenty of choices. More than 200 wineries are within one hour of the Tri-Cities region, which includes Richland, Kennewick and Pasco.
Portland is among the best places to retire for a variety of reasons, including a lower cost of living and relatively affordable housing. Portland also wins over retirees with its small-town feel paired with amenities more commonly found in big cities, like good-quality healthcare and a thriving culinary scene. Retirees love that Portland has its own Arts District, which hosts First Friday Art Walk events at galleries, studios and arts venues across town. In 2018 Portland was named Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetit. That means you’ll find serious eats here, like Fore Street Restaurant and Duckfat.
Located in the Berkshires region of western Massachusetts, Pittsfield is a great place to retire thanks to its natural beauty, historic sites and relative affordability, at least for New England. The Upstreet Cultural District wows with live music, theatre performances and community festivals, while in-town dining features eclectic cafes, a vegan diner, burger joints and coffee lounges. Hike the trails at Pittsfield State Forest, then watch a live performance at Colonial Theatre. Hancock Shaker Village lets you step back in time to the 18th century with artifacts, crafts and gardens. In winter, look to Bosquet Mountain for skiing and snowboarding.
Fayetteville is among the best places to retire thanks to plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities given its location in the Fayetteville. Home to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is one more college town that has a lot to offer retirees, including sporting events, cultural museums and theatre performances. As a bonus, residents aged 60 and up can take college classes tuition-free. Downtown, look for tempting restaurants, like Mockingbird Kitchen for contemporary fare and Vetro 1925 for upscale Italian. In winter, the Lights of the Ozarks lights up the historic downtown square.
Comments Off on Gov. Justice Announces UNDBIO Secures Lease in Monongalia County
A lower-cost insulin manufacturer has taken the next step toward establishing a location in West Virginia.
UNDBIO, a South Korean company, has secured a lease with West Virginia University to build an insulin manufacturing facility in Morgantown.
The company anticipates creating 200 jobs within the first three years while investing $100,000,000 in phase one of the project.
Gov. Jim Justice celebrated the lease agreement and praised the development during a briefing at the state Capitol.
“The Morgantown area has a strong manufacturing history and I am proud that UNDBIO will join our growing list of successful, world-leading manufacturing companies who’ve chosen the Mountain State,” Justice said.
The company has plans to build the manufacturing facility in the West Virginia University Research Park. Company leaders have said the project is valued at about $100 million and is expected to employ as many as 1,200 when up and running.
The company plans to partner with West Virginia University on other research projects as well.
“It’s really a firming up of the commitment. West Virginia’s made some financial commitments, and UNDBIO has made substantial commitments to the Morgantown area,” state Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
He added, “It’s really a revitalization of the pharmaceutical industry in the Morgantown area, and it’s great for West Virginia — and it’s great for Morgantown in particular.”
UNDBIO has been developing a proprietary manufacturing method aimed at lowering the cost of insulin.
In phase one, the facility will work to secure Food and Drug Administration approval for the product. After securing FDA approval, UNDBIO plans to expand, resulting in additional jobs.
Carmichael acknowledged the FDA approval could still take time, but he drew confidence from the insulin’s acceptance and production in other countries.
“Ground will be broken on the building this fall, and FDA approval will not be forthcoming for probably a year and a half or two — and you can’t control the speed at which the FDA approves.
But, Carmichael added, “the nice thing that gives everyone confidence about it is that it’s already being utilized and manufactured in other countries throughout the world. So the fact that it needs American FDA approval is significant and we’ll undergo that process, but the project is moving forward.”
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports more than 34 million people in the country have diabetes and one in 10 West Virginians are affected by the disease. The data also shows nearly 20-percent of people with diabetes skipped, delayed or rationed insulin due to cost.
“The mission of UNDBIO is to develop and produce state-of-the-art insulin in West Virginia,” UNDBIO Chairman Caleb Jun said.
“Our products will save human lives and improve the quality of life for those afflicted with diabetes. We are excited to see West Virginia become a mecca for manufacturing highly advanced insulin to treat diabetic patients around the world.”
Comments Off on Three New Tenants to Join WVU Innovation Corporation
The West Virginia University Innovation Corporation (WVUIC) announced Monday that three new science and technology tenants — California-based GATC Health Corp and Yunigen, LLC, and Morgantown-based ExesaLibero Pharma — will be leasing space in the Chestnut Ridge Road facility.
WVU and the West Virginia University Health System, commonly branded as WVU Medicine, officially took ownership of the 1.1 million square foot property in March 2022 and have been handling daily operations of the facility since. It previously served as the Mylan pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. The Innovation Corporation announced Hope Gas as its first tenant in August.
“We are very excited to have three innovative companies joining us at the Innovation Corporation as we continue to build a leading-edge science and technology hub that benefits the broader community,” Stacey K. Armstrong, president of the WVU Innovation Corporation, said. “These new partners share our vision of establishing collaborative technology innovative and will be excellent research and development partners with the Health System, University, and State of West Virginia.”
ExesaLibero Pharma, which was formed to complete preclinical toxicology and efficacy studies on a small molecule drug designed to control excess bone erosion associated with rheumatoid arthritis, will lease 1,034 square feet of laboratory space for drug development.
“The laboratory facilities at the WVUIC are ideal for the continuation of the work we started on the WVU Health Sciences campus,” John Barnett, Ph.D., president and chief scientific officer of ExesaLibero and professor and chair of the WVU School of Medicine Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology, said. “We look forward to moving into these facilities.”
GATC Health, a technology company “revolutionizing drug discovery and disease prediction using artificial intelligence (AI),” will lease more than 7,000 square feet of lab and office space to establish an AI hub to develop safer and more effective medicines with greater efficiency.
Tyrone Lam, GATC chief operating officer, said Appalachia is the best place to continue development of two of the drugs GATC is working on — one for treating PTSD and the other to treat fentanyl addiction — as they have the potential to have the greatest impact in the region. The space within the WVUIC, he said, “is almost turnkey and will help us bring these important treatments to people sooner.”
But, the one thing that stood out to the GATC team, was the “can-do spirit” of the WVUIC, WVU Medicine, and WVU leadership.
“There is no ‘no’ or ‘not now,’ it’s ‘how do we get this done?” he said. “There’s a genuine curiosity and desire to establish a true center of innovation to develop better medicines. We’ve been welcomed with open arms.”
Yunigen, a pharma company with a vision of making a difference in drug discovery, development, and commercialization, will lease 25,000 square feet of space with plans for expansion to manufacture rapid dissolvable Hydroxyurea tablets in 100 mg and 500 mg for pediatric sickle cell anemia patients in Africa. Its next phase is to manufacture high quality and affordable branded generic drugs in the U.S.
Charles E. Otieno, M.D., managing partner and chief medical officer of Yunigen, said the company’s two-year search for a manufacturing location took them to several states, including Connecticut, New York, Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and North and South Carolina. The WVUIC property, unlike the others they toured, had “all the bells and whistles.”
“This is what we were looking for because WVU preserved the intended use of the facility,” he said. “This has the potential for Morgantown to make its mark on emerging markets and will change the course of this disease. It will be a symbol of pride.”
Comments Off on Positive Economic Growth for the Future of the Mountain State
In the past 18-24 months, several positive news stories touting new and expanding business facilities and job creation have been announced within Black Diamond Realty’s West Virginia footprint. This article recaps some of these notable announcements that will build positive economic growth for the future of the Mountain State.
Most recently, Clorox revealed the opening of cat litter manufacturing plant in the Eastern Panhandle of WV. The 97,000 square foot plant is open in Martinsburg WV and will produce the company’s Fresh Step and Scoop Away products. This plant will begin with more than 100 workers, including over 80 from West Virginia. Clorox plans to be in full production by early 2023. The company has also built a 450,000-square-foot warehouse down the road from the plant.
In August, it was announced that the West Virginia AeroTech Park will house North Central West Virginia 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 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.
With July came the announcement that West Virginia would be launching the state’s second small satellite, the WVU Small Satellite Center, in North Central WV. 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. Candy Cordwell (assistant director) 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. This center not only boosts the aerospace industry statewide but also provides the hope to increase students K-12 interest and education in engineering/growth within the STEM field.
In June 2022, South Korean drug manufacturer UNDBIO 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.
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.” – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin
In March, American Medicines Company announced that they are going to build a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in West Virginia. This will bring 500 to 600 high-tech jobs to West Virginia. After listening to an interview with Crystal Mersh she mentioned that they do plan for this company is to not only develop medications, but to also manufacture and distribute.
To kickoff 2022, Governor Jim Justice revealed that Nucor Corporation selected Mason County as the location for a state-of-the-art sheet steel mill. This record investment will exceed $2.7 billion, making it the largest in West Virginia history, as well as the largest single investment Nucor has ever made.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia (TMMWV) will invest $210 million to upgrade existing engine production and add 100 new jobs to increase assembly capacity of its four-cylinder engine line. Once complete, TMMWV’s total investment will be more than $1.8 billion and total employment will exceed 2,000.
“This is such exciting news for West Virginia’s business community as well as our families that businesses are choosing to grow their organizations here. Toyota is a wonderful example of how a global company can be successful right here in West Virginia.” – U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, praised Toyota for their long-term commitment to the Mountain State.
Virgin Hyperloop announced Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020 that it will locate a certification facility on nearly 800 acres of land spanning Tucker and Grant counties where it will leverage intellectual capital and resources from West Virginia University, Marshall University and from across the state. Virgin Hyperloop plans to directly hire 150-200 engineers and technicians for the facility with plans to source talent locally. In addition, the construction and manufacturing of the project will create 7,300 jobs throughout the region over the next five years and the longer-term operation phase will create 6,000.