Comments Off on Named Best Retirement State In The Nation, West Virginia Is An Affordable Haven For Retirees
In an uncertain economy, retirees face new challenges. MoneyRates, a rate-comparison site, has been helping those looking ahead to their later years by ranking all 50 states in terms of retirement since 2011. But rather than analyzing beach vs. mountain views, which is what many people may think of when they dream of retirement, the MoneyRates analysts consider several more practical factors: things like cost of living, taxes, safety, lifestyle, and healthcare.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here: onlyinyourstate.com/nominate
Not that you need more convincing, but just in case, here are a few photos that prove that West Virginia’s nickname of “Almost Heaven” is well-deserved. What a great place to retire!
Comments Off on MHIRJ Aviation Inc. announces hiring plan for 300 available positions at Bridgeport location
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – MHIRJ Aviation Inc. (MHIRJ) announced that it will be launching a recruitment campaign at both its Bridgeport, West Virginia, and Tucson, Arizona Service Centers hiring up to 300 Aircraft Technicians in Structures, Maintenance, and Avionics.
“To cater to the growing demand in aftermarket services, we are currently expanding our service centers manpower to continue to offer world-class services to the national and international markets,” said Stephen McCoy, Head of Commercial Aircraft Service Centers. “We want to benefit from the expertise that is available to continue driving growth and investing in the future. We value our diversified workforce, who are talented, dedicated, and motivated, and are a key asset in keeping the fleets flying. Therefore, we provide them with an environment that fosters and celebrates their growth.”
The release explained that MHIRJ offers the stability of a large corporation with flexible and transparent leadership, continual learning opportunities, and a healthy work-life balance with the intent to provide each employee with a sustainable career.
Comments Off on West Virginia Gov. Justice makes income tax elimination plan top priority
CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice hopes to make West Virginia the eighth state in the nation without a personal income tax.
Justice outlined a strategy to phase out and eventually eliminate the state’s income tax during his 2021 State of the State Address, marking the effort as one of his major priorities for the current session of the West Virginia Legislature.
As of 2021, seven states — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming — do not have a state income tax. Two other states, New Hampshire and Tennessee, don’t tax earned wages.
Justice’s plan would initially see personal income taxes cut in half for most West Virginians, while imposing a series of new taxes and tax hikes.
Personal income taxes eventually would be eliminated for all residents, with the hope that the predicted economic development activity and influx of new residents that will occur as a result will make up for the lost revenues.
In order to replace the $2.1 billion received annually from the personal income tax, Justice said the state should raise its consumer sales tax by 1.5%, impose taxes on the purchase of tobacco products and soda, create a “tiered” system for severance tax collections, impose taxes on some professional services, impose a wealth tax and make $25 million in budget cuts.
Richard Auxier, senior policy associate for the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said politicians like to bring up eliminating income taxes because, on the surface, it seems like an idea that can be easily sold to the public.
“If you ask someone, ‘Would you rather pay higher or lower taxes?’ they are going to say lower taxes,” he said.
However, this overlooks the importance of the essential services — such as infrastructure, education and health care — typically funded by income tax revenues and ignores the actual needs of businesses and families, Auxier said.
“That’s the other side of the ledger. That’s why we have taxes,” he said. “It’s critical to make sure that anytime you discuss this, you can’t make the question, ‘Do you want to pay higher or lower tax?’ I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that. The question for West Virginia is what do businesses in West Virginia need to thrive and what do families, to stay or draw them to West Virginia, need to thrive?”
Those who earn less will be most impacted by raising the consumer sales tax, Auxier said.
“Lower income people tend to buy more goods which are taxable than higher income earners, but it’s just math,” he said. “If you only have $25,000 in income, you’re spending pretty much every dollar that comes in and it’s being taxed at the same time. If you’re higher income, well you’re pocketing money, you’re saving money and you’re investing money. Your purchases simply aren’t as large a share of your income, so the tax bill for you overall goes down as a percentage of your income.”
Kansas tried a similar strategy in 2012 that had disastrous results, Auxier said.
“The governor at the time, Gov. [Sam] Brownback, put forth a very similar proposal. He literally said at the time, ‘I want Kansas to be an experiment.’ And his experiment failed spectacularly,” Auxier said. “The income tax cuts did not generate any economic growth. Not only that, Kansas fell behind its neighboring states when it cut its taxes. It didn’t just fail to reach its very high goals of booming economic growth, it fell back on its butt.”
The experiment resulted in deep deficits in Kansas’s budget, Auxier said.
“Therefore that exacerbated its ability to fund its schools, fund its roads and it fell into this terrible problem,” he said.
States that have managed to successfully eliminate income tax — states like Texas and Florida — have a substantially higher population then West Virginia and have very different economies, Auxier said.
“You have to think about what is right for West Virginia — given its economic mix, given its major businesses, given the challenges that families face, given the size of its cities, the size of its local governments,” he said. “Simply pointing at a state that you think is a success and saying that it must be the income tax, that’s myopic at the least.”
West Virginia lawmakers are waiting for more details of the governor’s tax plan to be released, but many members of the GOP caucus have already signaled their support for the proposal.
Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said West Virginia must “take bold steps to secure our future.”
“We have been committed over the last four years to improving our state’s business climate, reforming our education system and promoting all of the benefits our state has to offer,” he said. “We now must take the next step, and that step is removing our state’s personal income tax.”
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said he looks forward to working with lawmakers to come up with a more concrete plan to accomplish Justice’s goal.
“The task will be putting the right plan together,” he said. “There is significant support in the House to eliminate the income tax, but it will of course depend on what the plan looks like. We’re not there yet on a plan, but we’re working toward it every day.”
Del. Clay Riley, R-Harrison, said he would support a plan that results in net tax relief for state residents.
“I am always in favor of putting money back in West Virginians’ pockets. It’s not the government’s money; it’s the people who are out there earning it,” he said. “I think it’s time that we have a good, honest debate about how we can do that successfully.”
Justice’s plan is a “good starting point” for lawmakers, Riley said.
“You always have someplace to start to have the discussion,” he said. “So I expect you’re going to see some good healthy discussion over the next 60 days. I think there’s a lot of great of ideas. And I think that as we work through the committee process, we’ll see something come out that’s good for the state of West Virginia.”
Del. Ben Queen, R-Harrison, said it’s typical for the governor to drop “bomb”-like ideas during his State of the State address.
“But not normally a billion dollar bomb. That’s hard to get used to here in the Legislature, especially when our general budget is only $4.5 billion,” he said. “But I think we’re all in favor of removing the personal income tax; it’s just how do we get there? Can we afford it? And in what manner do we do so?”
He also expects the tax package to change and evolve as it works itself through the committee process, Queen said.
“What I think we’re trying to weigh the options of is, how do we offset it?” he said. “We were cutting the budget $450 million just four years ago. Now, we do have surpluses, don’t get me wrong, but can we afford a $1 billion plan in a time where we’re kind of uncertain about what the future looks like?”
There have been numerous previous attempts to remove the state’s personal income tax, Queen said.
“We’ve all seen many different forms and plans to remove the personal income tax, and I think that’s the best one we’ve seen so far,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think you’re going to see a lot of discussion about the personal income tax. … If we can afford it, I think we’re all in. But making sure we can afford it is the uphill battle right now.”
Del. Joey Garcia, D-Marion, said he fears the tax plan will overshadow other important issues during this year’s session.
“A number of things that are being put on the table to try and pay for even a half repeal of the income tax, a lot of things have been discussed before and a lot of them have failed before with Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “So for me, there’s a lot of concern about that proposal and that it leaves a lot of the priorities that we should be looking at without the adequate funding that they need.”
Although Republicans are in the majority in both chambers and, in theory, have the numbers to pass just about any legislation, some GOP members have expressed doubts about the tax plan, Garcia said.
“I’m not so certain that they have the numbers to pass that, when it comes to their caucus and how they are split,” he said. “I don’t know that for sure and I haven’t talked to all the Republicans, but I’ve talked to a number of them that have reservations.”
“The announcements kind of speak for themselves,” said Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch. “I would say that we’re really on a record pace. From my standpoint, I think you’ll see more of this going forward.”
Mike Graney, deputy commerce secretary and former executive director of the West Virginia Development Office, also believes the best is yet to come.
“We’re just getting started,” he said. “This diversification effort, this intentional effort are really moving the needle forward.”
Other notable recent victories include the expansion of the workforce at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries location in Bridgeport; supply company Klöckner Pentaplast has chosen its production facility in Beaver for its production expansion; and Gruppo Fanti, an Italian metal packaging manufacturing company, has announced plans to open a plant in Weirton.
The staff of the Commerce Department and the Development Office are due much of the credit for the recent successes, Gaunch said.
“We’ve been very intentional, we’ve been strategic, and we’ve been very results-oriented in what we’ve asked our people to do,” he said.
The two agencies have forged meaningful working partnerships with other state agencies, Gaunch said.
“K though 12 education, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Protection and even to some degree the Department of Heath and Human Resources,” he said. “We’ve learned to work together.”
The Commerce Department and the Development Office also adopted a “regionalized” approach to economic development, one that highlights the existing strengths and resources available in the different parts of the state, Gaunch said.
“When people learn that they can do much more together as a region than they can as an individual city or town or county, then much better things happen,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously changed the way the business of economic development is conducted, but it has also presented unique opportunities, Graney said.
“Traditionally we had attended trade shows and been on missions and visited companies at their headquarters, but we haven’t been able to do that in 10 months and probably won’t be able to do so for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Focus has shifted online, and efforts have been thrown behind an aggressive digital marketing strategy, Graney said.
“It’s curious that we were able to stand up this effort in the face of … totally changing our direction and, frankly, in many ways making us that much more attractive,” he said.
There are several initiatives the two agencies would like to see lawmakers and the governor support in order to further promote economic development efforts in the state, Graney said.
“Because every one of our existing businesses and every one of our prospective acquisition candidates is concerned about workforce, we would like to restore the funding to the Governor’s Guaranteed Workforce effort that was taken away several administrations ago during some lean years,” Graney said.
The program provided new or expanding companies training funds and technical assistance to support effective employee training strategies.
“When we’re making an offer to a new business, they are definitely very interested in that, in particular, if they are represented by a site consultant,” Graney said. “Frankly, every state that we compete against, every state in the union has something very similar to this.”
Another item on the two agencies’ economic development wish list is the creation of a “closing fund,” which would give the state funds to provide final incentives to close a deal, Graney said.
“Many of the states we compete against have a closing fund that allows for that last-minute offer that potentially lures you into locating in West Virginia,” he said. “It may be that another state has a bigger checkbook than we do, and our current methodology for doing that is complicated and very legal fee intensive. We’d like to see a little bit more flexibility there.”
The state also needs to pursue strategies focused on developing build-ready sites, Graney said.
“We still have some challenges with having shovel-ready, buildable sites in the state of West Virginia,” he said. “Often, unfortunately we’re just passed over because we don’t have a site that’s ready to build on.”
Although he agreed that most states tend to have deeper pockets than West Virginia, no one can match its citizens’ work ethic, Gaunch said.
“Nobody out-hustles us, and nobody out-works us,” he said. “We think that we have the advantage there.”
But there is a deeper possibility in this unusual alignment of one senator, one struggling state and one suddenly attentive capital.
“The joke is that we’re going to have a futuristic West Virginia,” said Kelly Allen, the executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “The honest answer of it, from our perspective, is that West Virginia and Appalachia deserve an outsized piece of any federal recovery policy.”
That’s because the region’s decades-long role in powering the nation through coal, she said, came at enormous cost to the health of local residents, their environment and their economy. A serious federal response to that history could both bolster the state and be a model for other parts of the country that have been left behind.
West Virginia ranks among the most distressed states in child poverty rates and median incomes, in population loss and in working-age adults out of the labor force. Economists and local community leaders agree that the federal government has done a poor job helping to lift up such places. Maybe West Virginia, with all its newfound leverage, can force Washington to do better.
The state’s residents have ideas. They dream of broadband, vast brownfield cleanup efforts, greater aid to community lenders who operate where traditional banks won’t, more resources for high-quality housing and health clinics — investment on a scale that would return to the region all the wealth that was taken out of it by resource extraction.
“What we see is a part of the country that has been neglected by the change of an industry, and nothing came behind it,” said Jim King, the president and chief executive of Fahe, a network of more than 50 organizations working to make Appalachia more prosperous. “And it seemed that no one noticed or cared outside of our region.”
Within West Virginia, a number of organizations short of money are already operating with what Brandon Dennison, an eighth-generation resident, described as a “righteous anger” about rebuilding the state.
“On a spiritual level, in my bones, I know this place, it’s good, I know it has a lot to offer,” said Mr. Dennison, who founded Coalfield Development, an organization that provides work force training and jobs in construction, tourism and solar power, across the southern part of the state hurt most by coal’s decline. “And I know it’s not been able to offer all that it can because of various barriers.”
Many of those barriers went up generations ago, said William Hal Gorby, a historian at West Virginia University. In the 1870s, the state established a system for legally separating land ownership from mineral rights. This meant that families who owned land seldom profited from the coal underneath, which was mined by companies based out of state and used to power industrialization elsewhere. The coal industry also amassed political power early in the 20th century faster than anyone could mount a campaign to tax it. So to this day, West Virginia doesn’t have the kind of longstanding permanent fund that enables some other states to return resource wealth to their residents.
“The big theme of West Virginia historically is our wealth and our income is not here, it’s taken somewhere else,” said Sean O’Leary, a senior policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “That leaves us with very little to grow and invest and work on ourselves.”
And, indeed, much of the country prospered as West Virginia remained poor. Changing that picture now may require rethinking what it means for this part of the country to get its fair share from Washington.
Resources ‘tend to flow to places of density’
Many of the dynamics today in West Virginia would be familiar in old industrial towns in the Northeast, or in rural communities across the Midwest. The population is declining as young residents move away. So the tax base and ability to fund services are also shrinking. That makes it hard to support businesses, to prop up the housing market, to reinvent the economy.
This is a relatively new pattern: that broad parts of the country are falling further behind, as other places grow more prosperous. For much of the 20th century, poorer parts of the country were catching up in wages. That trend ended around 1980, according to economists, when globalization and knowledge work began to reorder the economy, with tremendously unequal consequences depending on where you live.
“We’re never going to have equal growth in the country geographically,” Mr. Lettieri said. “But we can’t tolerate a situation where a significant share of the country is actually losing ground as the national economy grows.”
In Washington, the problem isn’t simply that the federal government lacks a comprehensive strategy for the state and others like it; many existing federal programs weren’t designed for these places. To qualify for federal housing aid, families must earn below a given share of the local median income. But entire counties in Appalachia have median incomes below the poverty line, leaving many poor families ineligible.
Federal grant programs often require local matching dollars — money the poorest communities don’t have. Some health programs devote extra resources to rural communities, but misclassify which ones are “rural.” The federal government incentivizes banks to invest in struggling neighborhoods. But those incentives don’t work well in rural communities with no local bank branches. The government also has an array of tax credit programs to support development. But they work best with large-scale urban projects, not small rural ones.
“Scale is really the enemy of rural development,” said Dave Clark, the executive director of Woodlands Development Group and its partnering community lender, which have helped restore historical properties in small West Virginia downtowns. “Nobody’s getting rich off of these projects. We can structure them in such a way that people won’t lose money. But they’re not going to be making a lot of money off these projects with the current tools we have in place.”
The economics of redevelopment in the state are particularly tricky given that the state government has limited resources, local governments have meager tax revenue, and philanthropic dollars are scarce (those out-of-state coal companies didn’t leave behind a lot of local family foundations).
“Resources — all resources — tend to flow to places of density,” said Jen Giovannitti, president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the largest donor in West Virginia of any private foundation. “I’m talking about philanthropic density, population density, the institutional density. All of that money tends to cluster there.”
His predecessor, Robert C. Byrd, joked during his 51-year Senate career that he would be a billion-dollar industry for the state unto himself (and, indeed, he was).
What is potentially different for Senator Manchin today is that his influence is rising as recognition of spatial inequality is, too — and that this comes as the economy is in the midst of another jolt.
If more workers can live anywhere, why not West Virginia?
The pandemic, for all its pain, has hastened a number of trends that could aid West Virginia. It has driven a shift toward telehealth, a vital tool in rural communities. It has pushed more consumers into outdoor recreation, a market West Virginia’s scenic gorges and mountain trails are primed to capture. It has boosted political will in the state to prioritize broadband. And the pandemic has sped up a move toward remote work to parts of the country with a more affordable cost of living.
This last trend, which is tied to the other three, could have broad consequences for how states think about economic development. If more workers can live anywhere, states don’t have to throw tax breaks at companies to attract them. They can try to attract workers directly.
“Making a place a good place to live becomes much more important now,” said Adam Ozimek, the chief economist at the freelance platform Upwork. “That’s also a much healthier type of competition than who’s going to give the Bass Pro outlet the biggest tax cut.”
That idea reframes the major infrastructure investments Senator Manchin and President Biden have proposed. Broadband, above all, is an essential precondition to remote work. Well-maintained roads, new parks and other public amenities also enhance quality of life. And major investments in environmental cleanup — because the environment is central to West Virginia’s allure — become an economic development strategy, too.
Until now, many organizations in West Virginia lament that the state has focused too heavily on luring outside employers, rather than building up the state’s own assets.
“If we’re going to think big about this, do we want any job at any price?” said Karen Jacobson, who leads the housing authority in Randolph County. “From any employer who’s going to take the deal now and leave 10 years from now?”
An effort to leverage remote work could also help the state keep more of its college graduates. William Franko, a political scientist at West Virginia University, said many of his students who leave wish they didn’t have to.
“My sense is they would love to stay in the state after they graduate,” he said. “Most West Virginians love the state. But I think they look at the economic landscape, and they say, ‘I don’t see how I can make it work.’”
Mr. Lettieri and Mr. Ozimek have also proposed that the federal government do more to stem population loss and its harms, offering “heartland visas” to skilled immigrants who commit to settling in communities that have been shrinking. That idea is the kind of place-based program that recognizes what’s different about Southern West Virginia than, say, North Carolina’s Research Triangle three hours away.
All of this, locals said, would have to work alongside investments in residents who are unlikely to have remote jobs, but who could build the infrastructure, or run the tourism businesses, or remediate the land. After coal, many are leery of relying on any one fix-it-all idea, whether that’s tourism or remote work. What they’re asking for is something more comprehensive, something that will take years to grow.
“We have generational problems,” said Mr. Dennison, the head of Coalfield Development. “And they’re not going to be solved in one appropriations cycle, or even two or three.”
Comments Off on Agreement between UK company DST and Blue Rock Manufacturing to bring new manufacturing facility, up to 1,000 new jobs to West Virginia
Jim Justice announced today that DST Innovations, a UK technology company headquartered in Wales, has chosen West Virginia as the home of its new American manufacturing base; agreeing on a contract with West Virginia-based company Blue Rock Manufacturing to establish a new facility for the development of its new energy cells.
The new facility will be the forefront of green technology, using existing organic material such as coal to create new clean energy storage solutions. The development is expected to create up to 1,000 new jobs in the manufacturing and technology sectors. The manufacturing base will be located in Morgantown, with a Phase 2 expansion planned for the Southern Coalfields region of the state.
“This is a gigantic announcement for West Virginia and I could not be happier,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s wonderful to be able to announce a new international partnership for business in West Virginia. The development is a great example of the special relationship we have with the UK and, now, specifically, with Wales.
“West Virginia and Wales are both proud mining communities,” Gov. Justice continued. “They share their heritage and appreciation for the natural resources, and this special partnership will see us both at the forefront of new energy.”
When successfully completed, the production facility will use the latest material science techniques, combining them with cutting-edge manufacturing knowledge to turn West Virginia coal and other organic materials into clean, sustainable energy storage products. The facility aims to produce large scale, printed energy storage systems and clean, high-grade electronic inks and coatings for use in battery and capacitor products worldwide.
“We want, in West Virginia, to chase every opportunity we have to bring goodness and jobs to West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “This is another great example of how all the work that we’re doing within the state of West Virginia makes these things become a reality, but these things only become a reality with the goodness of the people on the other side of the equation. These people from Wales probably looked at many places within the United States, but they have chosen West Virginia, and I could never be more thankful.”
The pioneering facility in West Virginia will be integral to a new, internationally-funded $1.4 billion natural energy project: Dragon Energy Island, located in Swansea, South Wales. Products created in West Virginia will enable the efficient storage of energy generated at the groundbreaking project, harnessing the power of nature.A DST spokesperson said “We want to thank Governor Justice and his team for the warm welcome we have received. We are excited to create our American home in West Virginia, and truly believe, together, we can turn West Virginia coal into the clean resource of the future. The technology that will be used in Swansea for the Dragon Energy Island project can be utilized throughout the world, and we welcome the opportunity to aid governments achieve their sustainability and green ambitions.”
Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council said “Swansea Bay offers an unprecedented opportunity to deliver the world’s first truly integrated tidal energy project. This project has the potential to spur a new industry not just for Swansea but for Wales and the UK. The impacts on employment and our local economy are set to be significant and perfectly timed as we address the post-COVID economy.”
“We remain 100 percent committed to seeing the project delivered in Swansea and are grateful for all of the efforts made by DST to bring together such a strong consortium of organizations with a proven track record of success,” Stewart added.
“We’re delighted to be making this announcement today with the Governor, who has been a great support and aide in making this project become a reality,” said Mary Anne Ketelsen of Blue Rock Manufacturing. “We will be so pleased to add so many jobs. We need them, and I can’t think of a better place to bring jobs than West Virginia.”
Article by Office of the Governor, Jim Justice. Click HERE to see from source.
Comments Off on Coming Soon: The Bridge, a 156,000 SF recreational facility in Bridgeport, WV
The Bridge is the newest destination for all things sports, recreation, and wellness.
With 156,000 square feet of courts, turf, aquatics, fitness, and more, The Bridge is the most comprehensive venue in West Virginia and beyond. When you’re competing at The Bridge, you’re playing at the region’s top destination for tournaments, championships, and competitions. The Bridge Sports Complex has something for everyone. From exceptional sports programming to exciting family entertainment, this state-of-the-art facility is the premier sports and recreation destination for North Central West Virginia.
Comments Off on Massive Project Moving Forward in Bridgeport Could See Annual Economic Impact of More than $1 Billion
Three years ago, Harrison County Commissioners and Benedum Airport Authority members Ron Watson and David Hinkle got with fellow Authority member and Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang to form a special projects committee at the North Central West Virginia Airport.
The committee expanded to include NCWV Airport Director Rick Rock, Deputy Director Shawn Long, Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex Director Tracy Miller, and Amy Wilson of the Harrison County Economic Development Corporation. The group, Lang said recently, meets about every week.
“This coming October it will be three years,” Lang told members of the Bridgeport Development Authority last week.
Unlike many committees, this committee is not only making noise, but it is making serious financial noise with the first leg of a project that has just got started. Lang said that entire buildout of the much-discussed airport terminal project, which involves much more than just a new airport terminal building, is being looked at as having a potential 10-figure impact.
“We’re at $1.2 billion right now of economic impact,” said Lang on the status of the airport’s aerospace impact now. “The whole goal … it doubles what’s already on the airport. That’s based on square footage.”
The estimate of having an additional $1 billion-plus impact does not include other property that could be acquired and developed, which will be discussed below. It does include land many that follow the airport know has been targeted for development and that this committee has zeroed in on.
“We wanted to figure out a way to utilize the property lays between (State Route) 131 and (State Route) 279 and Route 50 back to Bridgeport,” said Lang on the property that is mainly owned by the airport and within the city limits.
The driving factor is that formerly Bombardiere, now Mitsubishi, is looking to expand their massive operations at the airport. To provide them space for future growth, the existing terminal building would need to be moved, which would also allow for other issues with the current terminal to be eliminated. That led to the committee looking at how the land referenced above could be utilized.
“(Moving the terminal) has nothing to do with the building, it has more to do with tarmac space, security and so many things we’ve learned over the last few years,” said Lang, who said parking is also a problem. “… There are a whole lot of issues that make it best to get that terminal out of there.”
That led them back to something that had been started on and never finished. The moving of a “mountain,” said Lang, on property that abuts Route 279. The idea has long been to remove the mountain, use fill to bring up lower elevations, and create flat land for development.
“(The flat land made accessible to the runway) is what brings value to our area,” said Lang.
The first part of that efforts, with a near $15 million price tag, is expected to get started before the end of the year. The earthmoving is funded through a $10 million grant awarded to the airport by Gov. Jim Justice and the remainder is being covered by the airport and the county commissions of Harrison and Marion Counties, the owners of the airport.
Once finished, Lang said there should be nearly 100 flat and contiguous acres. The land will be connected to the runway.
“The terminal building will take up about 18 of those acres and we’ll be left with about 80 acres that can be developed, hopefully for aerospace,” said Lang.
The $15 million only covers the first phase. Two additional phases will take place will include the concrete work needed for the airport aprons, the lighting and other airport essentials that the Airport Authority is hopeful will receive FAA funding.
The final phase is the construction of the terminal. The parking area, which along with the terminal will be designed for expansion, will also be part of the final phase.
Throughout the process, all infrastructure such as water and sewage will be done to allow the airport to go easily into surrounding properties. If everything goes as planned, private property surrounding the airport could be purchased as those owners have indicated they are willing to sell their property. And other large pieces of property are owned by the Harrison County Commission, including the former Thrasher farm.
There is no set timetable for the completion of the terminal, but the process is well under way. The Development Authority was impressed with Lang’s presentation.
“They’ve done a great job up there to aggressively keep moving forward,” said John Stogran, the president of the Development Authority.
Comments Off on Valley HealthCare breaks ground on $7 million expansion
Valley HealthCare System announced plans for a $7 million, three-building expansion that will provide additional beds for its addiction treatment programs it has been running out of Fairmont for the last 35 years.
Gerry Schmidt, Valley’s chief operations officer, said there has been a steady increase in demand for detoxification services.
“Our programs are full right now,” he said. “We got an expansion grant from the state of West Virginia and we’re funding the rest of the project ourselves.” Additional funding from a USDA loan, Schmidt said.
The expansion – designed by The Thrasher Group of Bridgeport – will give Valley HealthCare 80 additional beds, split evenly between men and women. An additional, shared facility will provide 16 family beds, as well as designated treatment rooms, central dining, offices, multi-purpose activity areas and exercise space.
Valley has plans in the future for an extended child-care program that will be designed to house women and their children, Schmidt said.
“We look forward this expansion of vital addiction treatment services in a time when we are seeing a steady increase in the demand for detox, residential and extended-care treatment,” Schmidt said.
“We serve the entire state of West Virginia,” he added.
Construction of the expansion project on Crosswinds Drive is slated for completion in August 2021.
“We have partnered with Valley for more than 25 years, working together to improve the community around us,” said Craig Baker, Thrasher’s Building’s and Facilities Marketing Director in a statement. “We appreciate the work they do for our state and for the opportunity to play a small role in it.”
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.”
Comments Off on Bridgeport, WV’s, White Oaks Continues Serving as Place of Business and Continued Growth
Bridgeport’s White Oaks development has seen much growth since its beginnings in 2008, with even more progress planned for the future this year. Austin Thrasher, White Oaks project manager, said the three-phase development project began right at the beginning of a recession. “It was almost a terrible time to start the development. We had a few years of slow (progression) but things started to grow and increase. I’d say the past five years has been the best growth we’ve had,” he said.
Thrasher said the thought behind the development was to create a place to have support services for the then-new United Hospital Center, the expanding FBI and oil and gas services. From that it has grown into much more, he said. The White Oaks planned business community comprises 470 acres that are home to offices, FBI support services, medical support services, oil and gas businesses, national retailers, restaurants and vital amenities.
Located at the intersection of Interstate 79 and W.Va. Route 279, the busy corridor sees an estimated average of 48,500 vehicles per day. It is adjacent to the $350 million United Hospital Center, at the doorstep of the FBI’s CJIS Division and the Biometric Center of Excellence. White Oaks is also located in the heart of Marcellus Shale play.
Thrasher said White Oaks is divided into three separate phases, with work continuing to progress in all three. Within the last year, some of the development’s newest additions include the Clear Mountain Bank, Minard’s Spaghetti Inn Express and Dyer Group. This time last year, Thrasher said construction was still ongoing for the Clear Mountain Bank as well as the Dyer Group facility. Minard’s now occupies the area in Retail Village Building 1 that formally housed Hermosilla’s Deli.
Nick Dyer, insurance producer and director of bonding, said the move from their Clarksburg location to the White Oaks Development was seamless. “It’s been a fantastic transition for us. Everything has gone very smoothly and all of our neighbors here at the White Oaks development have been very gracious as well as welcoming us as new members of the community here,” he said.
The Dyer Group, previously located in Clarksburg, is one of Harrison County’s oldest businesses was originally founded as P.M. Long and Son Inc. The company has been in business since 1896 and is a sixth-generation, family-owned operation. Being at the new location, Dyer said, can aid in fostering future growth. “I think the location and accessibility to the interstate makes this a great location for our clientele and our staff as we transition into growing our agency,” he said. Dyer expressed the development was an asset to the entire region of North Central West Virginia and is happy “we can be a small part of it.”
Minard’s Spaghetti Inn, a popular Harrison County staple for 83 years, held its grand opening in November, and owner Joe Minard expressed how convenient it was for customers in Bridgeport because they would no longer have to wade through lengthy traffic to visit the Clarksburg location. General Manager Heather Gillespie said the restaurant has a primary convenience factor, providing meals in a to-go container whether customers eat in or take out, making it more convenient for those on a lunch break or in a hurry.
After a soft opening two weeks ago, the new restaurant is starting to see some of its Bridgeport patrons more often than previously, Gillespie said. Some of its menu items include a hot Italian sub sandwich that is normally only available at the Clarksburg restaurant on special as well as soups like minestrone, Italian wedding soup, cheddar broccoli, potato, lobster bisque, pasta fagioli, and, starting next week, it also will sell vegetable beef soup and chili.
Thrasher said there is work continuing throughout the year. There is one bay that remains vacant in the retail section of the development and a national fast food chain, which Thrasher did not name at this time, will find a new home in the lot in front of the Huntington Bank, with construction most likely beginning this year. Though nothing is solidified, Thrasher said there is potential for residential development behind the Harmony Assisted Living Facility, which also opened its doors this year.
In addition, The Thrasher Group built a 4.5-acre pad behind the Freedom Kia dealership located right off of the Saltwell Exit and he said plans are in the works to utilize it for future developments. “If things work out, hopefully we will see some stuff come up before too long,” he said. Thrasher said the impact the development has in the region remains large with other surrounding factors in the area that help facilitate its growth.
“You kind of look for a nice place when you invest in a big building like this. If you’re (The Thrasher Group) and you are going to pay for a building of this size, you’re going to put it in a nice place that’s going to hold its value so we allow bigger companies like that to have place right here where people can come to work. I think it’s got a lot of value there,” Thrasher said.
The hotels, restaurants and other aspects of the development are also essential, he said. “It’s also a really nice benefit having the airport over there with their runway and having the ability to have things land there, seeing them expand and opening up options. I think it really is going to open us up to a bigger area and close things down in terms of travel for us,” he said.
Bridgeport Community Development Director Andrea Kerr said White Oaks from the very beginning has been aggressive and successful in developing their properties, having “done a tremendous job.” “We are excited to hear about the possibility of future development and hope to continue our working relationship to grow not only Bridgeport but North Central West Virginia,” he said.
Comments Off on Monongalia County Starts to see Fruits of its Labor, Continues to Grow
Monongalia County is, according to area officials, in a state of economic development that residents are finally going to be able to see with their own eyes. Many of the projects that have been in the works for years are finally coming to reality and will make an impact on even further growth, according to Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom.
“I think the biggest issue the public is going to see will be the development of buildings on the WestRidge area,” adding that this month visual progress will be made on Bass Pro Shops and Menards home improvement store in the business and retail park. “In the past, it’s always been land moving … now they’re going to see that next step and how they’re going to be able to benefit.”
WestRidge is a mixed-use development in Morgantown that will also be home to MVB Bank and the Steptoe & Johnson law firm, as well as 160,000 square feet of space for soft good retailers of nationally recognized brands and 60,000 square feet of retail space specifically for local businesses, according to previous reports.
“We have several announcements coming about businesses coming there,” Bloom said. Money coming to and staying in Monongalia County is a major concern and focus for the commission, according to Bloom. “We will fight everyday to make sure our funds stay here and not get lost in Charleston,” Bloom said, adding that he hopes residents see more expansive ways to shop locally and experience expanded services in their home county as tangible results of all the focus on growth and development.
One thing many residents might not immediately consider when it comes to economic growth is the 2020 Census. “People do not understand that’s how we get our federal funds,” Bloom said. “As important as Bass Pro and Menards is — the census and filling out the form is just as important, and we need to get many more people than in the past.”
Official Census Bureau forms began being distributed in mid-March, and households will have the option to respond by mail, by phone or online, according the Monongalia County government website.
“The 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. In West Virginia, that amounts to more than $5 billion in federal funding for things like Medicaid, SNAP, highway planning and construction, the National School Lunch Program and much more! That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location,” according to the website.
Bloom advises residents to take their participation seriously as it makes a substantial impact on our community and our ability to grow and change based on what people need. As far as building new structures, it’s not all localized to just one point in the county. Advancements in the area of Mylan Park and even more potential growth in the Morgantown Municipal Airport area are also coming up the pike.
“The growth in Mylan Park with the 4-H building, with the swimming and track center and future growth out in that area is going to be very big,” Bloom said. “There are some major housing developments that are going to go in.” A runway extension project and a proposed Tax Increment Financing district for the Morgantown Municipal Airport and Commerce Park is in the early stages of being determined, and if it moves forward, it could add even more to the already growing footprint of Monongalia County.
The project “will improve capabilities and attractability for the airport, but also we are utilizing a lot of the soils that would need to be moved in order to do the runway extension to then create a 90+ acre business industrial park adjacent to the airport,” Russ Rogerson, president and CEO of the Morgantown Area Partnership said in a previous interview. “It’s an opportunity for two benefits out of the same action.”
The project would be an improvement for the airport but also a job center for the area, according to Rogerson. There have been some differing views on the TIF up to this point, as some of the land included Commission President Ed Hawkins’ 17-acre property and several questions remained, from the county’s perspective, about planning and application. And while area officials on both sides are still in early stages, such a potentially large economic driver will remain a major part of economic and government conversations in the recent future.
“In all things economy based, it’s important that as a community we continue to attract new businesses and to help existing businesses expand,” Rogerson said previously, adding that this park would be the most significant business park land in Morgantown. The runway extension project of 1,001 feet, which would make the final runway length 6,200 feet, would have a total estimate cost of $50 million and take between five and 10 years, according to overview documentation from the Morgantown Municipal Airport. Major construction would be expected to begin in the fall of this year. And while the continuous construction that goes along with exponential expansion can be bothersome to residents or seek like it will never end, Bloom said it really does have the potential to positively influence quality of life in Morgantown and in the entirety of Monongalia County.
“Because of this growth, we are able to keep our property taxes low and provide more services,” Bloom said. “We are very fortunate that our community, Mon County, is looked at as a growing area and I believe it’s really important to continue that.” Being such an area does come with its own concerns and problems, like with infrastructure and road conditions, and that is not lost on the county. “We need a better working relationship with the state on fixing our infrastructure and our roads,” Bloom said. “We have our own concerns and problems with more cars and traffic.”
Monongalia County’s concerns in that area being so much different than other, more rural parts of the state, can sometimes make such communications difficult, according to Bloom. But it’s something that will continue to be addressed, he said. Other areas the county has its sights on includes the working relationship between surrounding counties and continuing to strengthen those bonds will be a focus as 2020 ticks onward, Bloom said.
Feature Image Caption: The WestRidge leasing office is a 15,000 square foot, three-tenant, mixed-use building in Morgantown.
Comments Off on Mon Health Seeks Equal Treatment When State Reviews Fairmont Hospital Projects
Mon Health System hopes that it will be treated on par with WVU Hosptials when the state Health Care Authority evaluates their somewhat parallel plans to open new hospitals in Fairmont. Both systems want to fill the gap left by the recent closure of Fairmont Regional Medical Center. In a statement released Tuesday, Mon Health President and CEO David Goldberg referenced a March 13 visit by Gov. Jim Justice to Fairmont to tout WVUH’s two projects.
“Politicization of healthcare is not safe and not smart, especially at a time with national, regional and local impacts from COVID-19,” Goldberg said. “What is happening across West Virginia is a perceived focused toward a single source of healthcare by one non-profit dominant healthcare system. National evidence shows that this leads to increased costs, diminished efficiency of convenient access, and ultimately a market monopoly. Most of all, the choice patients have and the right of citizens to choose where they want to get healthcare is taken away from them.” He continued, “Mon Health System has filed a worthy and appropriate Certificate of Need application to build a new hospital to serve Fairmont and the surrounding region and deserves fair and balanced review and consideration so that Mon Health System is not excluded from the Fairmont market.”
On March 10, Mon Health notified the HCA that it will seek a certificate of need (CON) for a Mon Health Marion Neighborhood Hospital with an emergency room, 10 inpatient beds and the services of an acute care hospital. The estimated cost is $25 million and would take 18 months to complete.
On March 20, WVU Hospitals notified the HCA of two projects it will seek CONs for: a 10-bed hospital in the FRMC building to serve as an interim facility and Ruby Memorial campus, at a cost of $8.79 million and taking one month to complete upon approval; and a subsequent 25-bed hospital at a separate site, to cost $35.3 million and be completed within 32 months. Justice characterized the WVU effort as a 100-bed hospital, but he conflated WVUH’s plans indicated in its letter to the HCA. WVUH said that after the initial project it anticipates two or three additional construction phases that “could approach approximately 100 beds.”
Goldberg said in his statement, “The governor has suggested that West Virginia’s Certificate of Need laws might be set aside so that WVU Medicine can move more quickly to replace hospital services. … There has been no indication from the governor that the possible set-aside of the Certificate of Need law will be applied in a fair and equal manner for any other independent entity, including Mon Health, to more quickly proceed with its project.”
The Dominion Post reported that on March 13, while the governor said he was thrilled and “tickled to death” about Mon Health’s plans for Fairmont, it wasn’t enough to amply serve the area. The Dominion Post asked Justice about this issue during his Tuesday COVID-19 press update, but his answer was unclear, as he focused instead on his idea of using FRMC as a backup hospital should virus cases overwhelm existing hospitals, and waiving any CON process to make that happen.
Justice on Tuesday again talked about using if for overflow. “If you don’t dream big enough you’ll never get it done.” Without addressing Mon Health’s plan, he said he’s looked at way to speed up WVUH’s process, but the state rules and regulations regarding CONs are clear. Some rules have been relaxed for the COVID-19 pandemic, but others haven’t. “It doesn’t mean I’m not to going to go back and try to change the answer.”
Mon Health and WU Medicine both offered comments on Tuesday via email exchange. WVUM spokeswoman Heather Bonecutter said, “As I’m sure you understand, we’re focused entirely now on making sure WVU Medicine is fully prepared to respond to a surge in COVID-19 cases. We were surprised to hear the statements made yesterday. We are supportive of Mon Health’s project in Fairmont.” Goldberg said, “We have had multiple conversations with many parties to ensure healthcare choice and access is maintained in the Fairmont community for hospital-based services, outpatient care and durable medical equipment.”
“Mon Health System and WVUH have a strong working relationship. I have personal and professional respect for Albert Wright and the stellar providers at WVU Medicine, who are our partners in many services like tele-neurology/stroke, neonatology, nephrology and others. But, I also want to ensure the record is clear that Mon Health wants to be included in solutions for Fairmont and that our Certificate of Need application to build a hospital there is fairly reviewed in Charleston and that equal access, choice and balance in the market is preserved.”
Comments Off on Dominion Post: Black Diamond Realty LLC opens new residential arm, White Diamond Realty
Melissa Berube, formerly of Howard Hanna, tapped to head company.
For David Lorenze and Mark Nesselroad, principals of commercial real estate company Black Diamond Realty LLC, starting a residential brokerage was a no-brainer for the pair. “We grew to be the commercial bridge with national [commercial real estate] firms and had formed a great team,” Nesselroad said. “We saw an opportunity to serve the residential market.” “Our outreach makes us different.” Lorenze agreed. “We are excited to utilize Black Diamond Realty’s presentation, process and people to develop a new organization focused on residential brokerage services,” Lorenze said. “Securing a well-respected, strong leader was a critical first step.”
The result of that opportunity is the recent formation of White Diamond Realty LLC, Black Diamond’s new real estate arm. And to lead their new residential venture as its broker, the principals tapped Melissa Berube, a veteran Morgantown area realtor who was the 2019 president of the Morgantown Board of Realtors.
“Melissa brings to the table a strong reputation, a charming demeanor and an unwavering work ethic, which we are confident will lead to tremendous results. … We are excited to see what the future holds and appreciate the community’s support,” Lorenze said.
At White Diamond, Berube, who has been selling homes for nearly two decades, is being tasked with recruiting and building a team of seasoned agents who know the local real estate market and are tech savvy. The White Diamond agents will be based at Black Diamond’s Stewartstown Road headquarters.
“I am excited to be building something new,” said Berube, who was previously with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services Cheat Lake office. “I am working on the foundations now,” she said. “Our goal is to become a boutique agency that emphasizes quality over quantity.”
Berube said she is looking at recruiting more than a dozen agents at White Diamond, a goal she hopes to accomplish by spring. She sees White Diamond’s niche mostly as second-time home buyers, or transition buyers who are new to the area. “Experience is always good, but I would consider a newbie,” said Berube, when asked about the kind of residential agent she hopes to recruit. The agents who join White Diamond will be incentivized and encouraged to work together as a team — a concept important to Black Diamond, she added.
“For us, it’s all about team building,” said Nesselroad, who also serves as the chief operating and legal officer of developer Glenmark Holding LLC. “Starting a residential company has been in the backs of our minds for a while.” It also helps to have Berube as its residential broker, he said. “We have full faith and confidence in Melissa Berube to lead our team.”
Comments Off on Longview Plans to Expand – Officials Seek to Build $1.1B Facility
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.
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.
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.”
Comments Off on It’s a wash: Don Stenger selling longtime car wash businesses
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.”
Comments Off on Job Creation, Clean Power Generator, Natural Gas Consumer
Longview Power has taken the next step to make it planned combined cycle gas-fired power plant a reality. The company announced late Thursday it has filed its application for a siting certificate to build the plant with the West Virginia Public Service Commission. Longview has dubbed the plant the Longview Power Clean Energy Center. It will be sited adjacent to the current coal-fired plant near Maidsville and will produce more energy: 1,200 megawatts compared to 710 MW for the coal plant. It will also include a 70 MW utility grade solar installation.
Combined cycle means the gas powers a turbine, and waste heat is routed to a steam turbine to generate additional power. Longview Power President and CEO Jeff Keffer told gas industry representatives in July that coal-fired plant in Morgantown is the cleanest in the world and the most efficient in North America. But it’s probably the last of its kind. That’s why Longview is developing the gas-fired combined cycle plant. He said in Thursday’s announcement, “The Longview Power Clean Energy Center will be a global model for clean fossil and renewable energy development. This first-of-its-kind project will use regionally produced Marcellus gas and the solar facility will be one of the largest in Appalachia.”
Keffer said the project will cost $1.1 billion to construct and create 5,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction. Employee compensation will exceed $360 million. The facility will pay an additional $2 million annually in PILOT (payment in lieu of county property taxes) and tax payments, over and above the $3 million currently generated by the coal plant, the announcement said. Longview expects to add more than 30 additional skilled, high-paying power generation jobs to operate the expansion facilities.
The coal plant generates enough electricity to power almost 700,000 homes, Longview said. Once the Clean Energy Center is fully operational, the combined facilities are expected to produce over 2,000 MW of electricity, serving nearly 2 million homes in northern West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. The solar facility will use over 185,000 solar panels on 300 acres and be one of the largest solar generation facilities in Appalachia, Longview said. It will be constructed in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Keffer told the gas industry eps in May, “We’re really not in the coal business.” Longview’s business is energy conversion: using fuel to produce power; the fuel could be coal or gas or the sun. While the coal plant is the least expensive fossil fuel plant in the PJM regional network, the opportunity to build more coal-fired plants like it has passed, he said. The Trump administration undid the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, but took too long to rewrite the rules.
So gas is the next wave, he said. It’s now the predominant fuel in the PJM network, making up about 38 percent of its total. And as expensive coal and nuclear plants close, a new generation of gas plants will be needed to supply the baseload. Several government officials included comments in Thursday’s announcement. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said, “In addition to all of the jobs and economic growth this project creates, it also positions West Virginia as a world leader when it comes to producing electricity in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner while proving that coal and gas will continue to power America for decades to come. It’s the perfect example of how our state continues to contribute to our national all-of-the-above energy strategy.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “In 2017, I brought U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to tour Longview Power because I wanted to show him the innovative work being done in West Virginia. I have always supported an all-of-the-above energy policy and am confident West Virginia workers will achieve this at Longview.” And Gov. Jim Justice said, “I’ve said many times that we need to be an ‘all-in’ energy state here in West Virginia. The more ways we are able to use our abundant resources, the more we will be able to build on the momentum we’re already seeing in our economy and this kind of complete commitment is exactly what we need to truly put West Virginia on the map.”
The announcement arrived after hours and The Dominion Post was unable to reach the appropriate Longview officials or the PSC to learn about the site certificate process.
Comments Off on City Agency Looking to Acquire 430 Spruce Street
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
Comments Off on Demolition of Towne House Motel Ahead of Schedule as Long-Standing Building Soon to be Part of Past
It stood in Bridgeport for decades. As of Thursday, there wasn’t much left standing of the once thriving Towne House East Motel off of Main Street. Workers with Lyons Excavating have been leveling the structure for some time now. The company is doing $196,000 worth of demolition work that includes items done before the building started coming down and items to be addressed once it’s completely down.
“We are actually ahead of schedule, which is great news,” said Bridgeport Community Development Director Andrea Kerr. “All the asbestos has been abated and properly disposed of and as of (Wednesday) the building is just about down.” That doesn’t mean the work is finished. The contract signed with Lyons has a completion date of Oct. 31, said Kerr. While that doesn’t mean they have to be on site until that date, it does mean there are other items that will be addressed.
“Once everything is done, the area will need to be seeded and mulched,” said Kerr. “There’s other things that will also be taken care of, but it’s important the property looks nice until a decision is made for what will be put in place there.” The building on Main Street (U.S. Route 50) is near Twin Oaks. The lot provides two things that are a commodity hard to find along the corridor – road frontage and deep property in the rear.
The entire parcel covers 2.734 acres and was purchased for $975,000. There has been discussion of putting a new city fire station, a police station or a combined version – or perhaps one and not the other – on the parcel. Nothing, however, is close to definitive. “I’m kind of excited to see the decision Council makes for the property,” Kerr said. “It’s a great piece to have ownership of and provides the city with a lot of options and opportunities.”
Now, the area still has debris as a result of the construction. Remnants of the motel were visible as a scoop of material being pulled away had an old mattress cover hanging from it – a visible sign of the long-standing business that had faded into the past.
Comments Off on WVU Board of Governors OKs Three Major Construction Projects and Financing
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.
Comments Off on Harrison County Chamber of Commerce – 100th Anniversary Dinner
On May 21st, a couple of the Black Diamond team members attended Harrison County Chamber of Commerce’s 100th anniversary dinner which was held at the Village Square in Clarksburg. Harrison County Chamber of Commerce presented its annual awards and recognized the Leadership Harrison 2019 graduates. Native to Harrison County, Clarksburg’s own Jimbo Fisher was the keynote speaker. David Lorenze and Jeff Stenger were delighted to attend the event and, as an added bonus, got to meet Jimbo Fisher personally.
As evidenced in the autograph they secured, Jimbo Fisher’s key to success is “grit”. Jimbo Fisher and all of the accomplished men and women throughout this region embody the hard working, never quit spirit of West Virginia’s Appalachian culture.
Comments Off on Congratulations, Mark J. Nesselroad – Generation Next 40 Under 40
The State Journal has been recognizing and honoring young professionals throughout West Virginia as part of Generation Next: 40 under 40 for the past 14 years. Each year, the award reminds us that success and happiness can be found and made within the Mountain State’s borders. Whether native to sons and daughters or those who choose to live here, all our recipients are Mountaineer Proud!
Generation Next: 40 Under 40 was created to celebrate the state’s outstanding professional people who are making a difference at work and in their communities. We’re proud of this year’s very special class of 40 under 40. They come from all corners of the Mountain State; from the southern fields to the Northern Panhandle and across the high-tech roads of North Central to the Eastern Panhandle and down along the Mid-Ohio Valley to Huntington and through the Metro Valley.
They come from an array of careers, while finding high levels of success in their chosen endeavor, they haven’t allowed their jobs to define who they are or what they’ll accomplish. Some hold prominent positions, but find the time to operate one or even two additional business on the side. Others have achieved great career success but have made even greater impact through their community service. Some left for a while but were beckoned home by the call of the mountains. Others have long made West Virginia home.
Generation Next: 40 Under 40 is a shining light each year that clears out the darkness that shrouds the state with negative rankings and stereotypes. It is a reminder that there is a greatness among the hills and valleys of the Mountain State. As West Virginia emerges from past hard times, it will be the energy and leadership from Generation Next that carries the state to a heightened level of prosperity and paves a pathway to greatness to come. We Salute this year’s class of Generation Next!
Congratulations, Mark J. on this outstanding accomplishment!
Article by The State Journal. Click HERE to see the full Generation Next 40 Under 40 list.
Comments Off on Economic Experts Tout Potential of Natural Gas Development
Growth in the state’s energy industries, along with the construction projects that come with it, offers many economic opportunities, but there is a balance to be had, as was demonstrated by speakers at the eighth annual Marcellus to Manufacturing Development Conference in Monongalia County.
John Deskins, chief economist for West Virginia University and director of the Bureau of Business & Economic Research, said the state’s economy is heading in the right direction overall, but added there are issues worthy of attention. “The 9,000 jobs we’ve added over the last two years are really concentrated,” he said. “This is part of the problem. The jobs we’ve added have been concentrated almost entirely in eight counties of West Virginia. Those eight counties are doing well. And we have 40 counties that are stable … some small growth, some small decline, but mostly stable.”
Despite improvements, Deskins said long-term problems remain. One is the state’s workforce participation rate, which is the lowest in the nation at only 54 percent of the state’s adults either working or actively looking for work, compared to a national average of 63 percent. He also pointed out that of the 9,000 new jobs, as much as 85 percent of them are in coal, natural gas or temporary construction work that is mostly related to natural gas. He said economic diversification is still a long way off. “We want energy to be strong,” Deskins said. “We want coal, gas and construction to be strong — obviously — but we have to have growth in other sectors like manufacturing, like tourism. This is the environment we find ourselves.”
Deskins said economic diversification is not only necessary for different types of businesses to flourish, but also to prevent a brain drain. For instance, he said when economic shocks occur, such as the decline of coal a few years ago, residents leave to find work elsewhere, and most of those who leave tend to be young people. This also leads to the vicious cycle of unemployment, despair and drug abuse. Deskins said the abundance of natural gas in Appalachia does present an opportunity to achieve economic diversification in view of the number of chemical and manufacturing industries that are drawn to cheap, plentiful and accessible feedstocks. “We have the opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade or couple decades,” he said.
Joe Bozada, chief operating officer of the Appalachia Development Group, said work on an Appalachian Storage Hub for natural gas to feed that economic diversification is underway. While the past year of development has been highlighted by the selection of Parsons Corporation as an engineering partner and securing loans from the U.S. Department of Energy, Bozada said the work on selecting underground sites to build the hub has also proceeded. He said that after negotiations with landowners, the list of sites has been narrowed down to five. Now the task, he said, is to further narrow that down to two sites — a primary site and a backup site.
He said the biggest risk to large-scale investment in West Virginia is a lack of suitable infrastructure. The Appalachian Storage Hub, when completed, will serve as a critical piece of that infrastructure, along with various pipeline construction projects, he said. “Our biggest risk is, essentially, why we exist,” he said, adding that the ultimate prize at the finish line is the 100,000 family-sustaining jobs the storage hub is projected to create via downstream development. Despite the promises of the storage hub, Bozada said other energy interests around the world aren’t just sitting back. They too are looking to expand.
He said U.K.-based INEOS has invested 3 billion euros into the construction of plastics manufacturing facilities in the Belgian port city of Antwerp — plants designed to use ethane derived from North American shale gas brought in by ships. Bozada said that while this is happening, American Ethane Co., which has Russian financing, is preparing to embark on a venture to supply Chinese markets with as much as $75 billion of ethane that would travel forth by sea through Beaumont, Texas, on the Gulf Coast, another hub of America’s petrochemical industries. He said volumes of that quantity represent an equivalent to the 100,000 jobs the creation of the Appalachian Storage Hub could provide.
Looking back to Appalachia, Long Ridge Energy President Robert Wholey said there are opportunities for business development in the remains of older industries that have since shutdown. He said one only needs to look across the Ohio River in Wetzel County to see an example. Located in Hannibal, Ohio, sits the leftovers of Ormet Primary Aluminum Corporation which is being redeveloped into a gas-fired power plant. The smelter, once the third largest aluminum smelter in the U.S., shut down in 2014, but development into a power plant started almost immediately after Long Ridge’s parent company, Fortress, purchased the property in 2017.
“It used as much power as the city of Pittsburgh,” Wholey said. “It went bankrupt because the power prices were too high. The terrible irony of it was that power was right beneath their feet.” Wholey said a particular advantage of developing such a site is the fact that much of the infrastructure is already in place, which can speed up the process and reduce some costs.
Between potential for growth in the energy and manufacturing sectors, coupled with technology and federal government operations, there are plenty of sound investment opportunities in the Appalachian region despite its challenges.
Such was the subject of industry and business development conferences held recently in Monongalia County. At the eighth annual Marcellus to Manufacturing Development Conference, Solvay Senior Vice President Wally Kandel said West Virginia has advantages in downstream industrial potential for its natural gas unique to other high-production areas around the globe.
He said that while the U.S. Gulf Coast remains a production and shipping powerhouse for natural gas, that region remains vulnerable to hurricanes and is far from the majority of its customers. Kandel said the decision to invest more heavily in the Gulf Coast was a sound one based on the technology and knowledge available in 2010. However, much has changed with the advent of horizontal drilling, and the advantages of the shale deposits in Appalachia are becoming more and more obvious. “In our case, we don’t have to decide where the customers are and where the feedstock is,” he said, noting that a majority of the U.S. population is within a day’s drive of West Virginia. “We need a shining bright new image that shows that.”
Many of the conference attendees also spoke in support of the Appalachian Storage and Trading Hub and the supporting pipelines needed to move the product to markets. Mike Graney, head of the West Virginia Development Office, pointed to the new polyethylene cracker plant under construction in Butler County, Pennsylvania, which is the biggest project in Pennsylvania since World War II and has one of the world’s longest supply trains on site supporting the construction effort. He said there’s enough gas in the region to support five of these facilities, which convert natural gas into pellets that can be used for manufacturing a wide variety of products. Another cracker plant worth $10 billion is in the works in Ohio as well. “We’ve got attractive states for industrial development,” he said.
Citing sources such as The Cato Institute think tank, financial services company Moody’s Corporation, the state development office’s own findings and others, Graney said West Virginia has seen $5 billion in investments since 2017, has a better business tax climate than any of its surrounding states, has the nation’s lowest turnover rate in manufacturing, has the 11th lowest cost of doing business, has no business franchise tax and has a strong rainy-day fund. Some of that investment is already taking place. Frank Bakker, CEO of US Methanol, said his company is in the process of dismantling two of its facilities in Brazil and Slovenia and relocating them to West Virginia. “What is methanol? It’s alcohol in its purest form,” Bakker explained. “You can drink it … you’ll go blind and die … but there are lots of uses for it.” The largest use of methanol is in manufacture of other chemicals, which is why US Methanol is establishing itself in Kanawha County to be close to both the local petrochemical industry and accessible, abundant natural gas that can be converted to methanol.
Other applications include laboratory solvents, antifreeze and vehicle fuel. A small amount of methanol can be added to wastewater to provide a food source of carbon for the denitrifying bacteria, which convert nitrates to nitrogen to reduce the denitrification of sensitive aquifers in some wastewater treatment plants. Challenges to further developing the storage hub and the economic goodies that come with it include a lack of flat land for construction, as well as a lack of cohesive strategic planning. However, Graney said these are issues that can be overcome. “I say we can overcome all of that if we have the right attitude,” he said. “West Virginia is not only wild and wonderful and beautiful. It is a powerhouse.” Kandel said it’s also a matter of properly informing those at the top of large companies around the world what the Appalachian region is capable of.
During the second annual Take Me Home Country Roads Conference, organized by the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Society of Professional Services, West Virginia High Technology Foundation President James Estep said the state’s knowledge economy is being enhanced by the transition of federal government operations out of the crowded Washington, D.C., metro area. “The cost of operations there has become astronomical. It just doesn’t make business sense to stay there,” Estep said, referring to Northern Virginia and Western Maryland. “It can be transformative not only economically but cement in place a knowledge sector that could be an example for the whole country.”
An example of this in action is tech company Leidos’ work with NASA and the National Energy Technology Laboratory. In fact, this prompted the firm to start building a whole new campus at Monongalia County’s West Ridge development off Interstate 79. Estep said that as federal functions move to a new area, companies to support those functions also move into the area to go where the work is. He said this often leads to a ripple effect where companies branch out and expand their operations to keep up with demand, creating more jobs in the process.
Comments Off on WVU Medicine set to add 5th hospital in 2 years
Twenty-three years later, the major mission to increase West Virginians’ access to healthcare remains largely unchanged. While the mission continues, some of what WVU Health System is doing to fulfill it has evolved.
WVU Health System (WVU Medicine), on the verge of partnering with Jackson General Hospital in Ripley, West Virginia, is in the process of adding its fifth hospital to the extended family in just two years — a significant increase over the system’s first two decades in existence. Last week, the West Virginia Healthcare Authority granted a Certificate of Need, clearing one of the final significant hurdles to the 55-year-old hospital joining the state’s largest private employer. Joining Summersville Regional Medical Center and Braxton County Memorial Hospital, Jackson General is the third hospital in 2019 to join, at least in part, with WVU Medicine.
Summersville Regional Medical Center along with Garrett (Maryland) Medical Center and Wetzel County Hospital are currently in a management agreement partnership with WVU Medicine. Braxton County Hospital, Berkeley Medical Center, Camden Clark Medical Center, Jefferson Medical Center, Potomac Valley Hospital, Reynolds Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and United Hospital Center are all fully integrated members of WVU Health System. Converted to a critical access hospital in 2012, Jackson General is a 25-bed non-profit facility that employs 300 people. Jackson General Hospital has received a certificate of need, removing another obstacle in their quest to partner with WVU Medicine. The hospital is trying to get ahead of the curve, according to Jackson General President Dr. Stephanie McCoy.
“You’re just always trying to think ahead,” McCoy told MetroNews affiliate WAJR in Morgantown. McCoy said healthcare — due to a sometimes arduous relationship with government — is often a “moving target.” “You have to plan and you have to strategize, but then you always have to have your back-up plan in the back of the mind for “what if this happens,” she said. Dr. Albert Wright Jr., President and CEO of WVU Health System, said Jackson General is following that “forward thinking” model — a hospital doing reasonably well financially, but recognizing that the nature of the healthcare industry is ever-changing no matter who is in the Oval Office or in Congress.
“Every scenario, any regulation, any proposed regulation is always going to pay us less than we get today,” he said. “So if we prepare that way, I don’t really have to worry about any regulations or legislative changes that change healthcare, because we’ll be ready to adapt to it, and we’ll be the low-cost provider.” Typically, WVU Health System added sparingly following the initial 1997 agreement with United Hospital Center in Bridgeport. It was a eight years before any other hospitals joined — eventually bringing Berkeley Medical Center and Jefferson Medical Center into the fold in 2005. It was then another six years until Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg joined. And, in terms of healthcare, a lot can change in a decade. Since the Camden Clark acquisition, the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamcare — was passed, survived a major Supreme Court decision, and went into effect. That, in and of itself, significantly changed the healthcare landscape. “Sometimes it does seem like we’re just a stroke of the pen from either making huge advancements or improvements or, alternatively, from devastation,” McCoy said. “It can be really hard to budget when the government can reduce payments or eliminate support with minimal notice and sometimes even retroactively.”
Following the ACA, more changes — or at least the threat of more changes — came in a very short period. Three more hospitals became full members of the WVU Health System family and, then, in the wake of a failed repeal of the ACA in 2017, five more hospitals (including Jackson General) have become partial or full members of WVU Medicine, bringing us up to date on the aggressive expansion. This is a hub-and-spoke model, Wright said. WVU Medicine is centralizing its major Morgantown hub while simultaneously branching out its spokes across the state in order to bring the resources — talented specialists, equipment, and support — to rural clinics and hospitals.
Ruby Memorial Hospital is the central “hub” in WVU Medicine’s hub and spoke model for treatment. “We’re building up our academic medical center significantly in Morgantown,” Wright said. “We’ve added lots of beds, lots of clinic space, lots of new physicians and programs around the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, the WVU Cancer Institute, the Heart & Vascular Institute, and then building the new children’s hospital.” “The spoke part of that is going out and acquiring clinics and physician practices and hospitals around the state in what we consider to be key, crucial areas in order to maintain good healthcare in those parts of the state,” Wright added. Though Wright wouldn’t specify, he did mention that there are usually “more phone calls that don’t work out” than ones that do when it comes to partnering with hospitals around the state. Wright said expansion, in this case, is about finding places to cut costs without sacrificing healthcare quality or access — which means finding ways to avoid duplication of efforts. “If you get most of your care — greater than 90 percent of your care — inside of one integrated health system where you don’t have duplication of efforts or re-ordering of tests or things like that and information available to all of your providers, you can actually cut your costs of care in half for a sick or complex patient over a three year period,” he said.
Naturally, that brings both Wright and McCoy to what many consider to be the sort of crown jewel of the WVU Health System network. Yes — the partnership agreement means resources that rural hospitals might not have had access to or new patients that WVU Medicine may never have treated. Where the centralization becomes key is the digitized internal system that allows a patient to go to any hospital in the WVU Medicine family and have their full treatment records brought up instantly.
St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, WV joined the WVU Medicine family in 2015. For patients, Wright said it incentivizes them to choose hospitals in the network that have their history and can better treat them — often without having to stray too far from home. For the hospitals themselves, it limits duplication of treatment while also simultaneously convincing those patients that they don’t have to leave their home county for healthcare. “Wherever you go in any WVU Medicine clinic, physician office, urgent care, and any one of our hospitals should you get transferred, all of your information — all of your prescriptions, your labs, your X-rays, your imaging follows you everywhere you go,” Wright said.
The next step, Wright said, is crucial: broadband access across the entire state. That’s because, when appropriate, Wright said telemedicine — the use of Skype or Face time, for example, to communicate with patients — will save significant dollars. “That is the best, quickest, cheapest access we can give,” he said. “Telemedicine, virtual visits of our specialists, that’s how we are going to reach parts of a rural state that we would never be able to do otherwise.” Broadband expansion — 100 percent connectivity — has been an ongoing discussion for years now among some of the state’s leaders. Hopefully, Wright said, 100 percent connectivity in West Virginia can happen sooner than later — considering the “creative” plans he hinted at that will be part of WVU Medicine’s future. “I think you’ll see us announce at least one and maybe a couple of very creative relationships with healthcare insurers with the goal of exactly what I talked about before — the highest quality, lowest cost provider with the best access to patients,” Wright said.
“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:
Family support services
Individualized treatment plans
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 email@example.com.
This gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the non-profit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.
Comments Off on Black Diamond Attends The 16th Annual WVU Medicine Children’s Gala
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.
Comments Off on Natural Gas Power Plant to Provide Economic Catalyst to Harrison County & WV
A new natural-gas-fired power plant in Harrison County is expected to be operational by fall of 2021, according to a company official.
Groundbreaking on the approximately 550-megawatt Harrison County Power Plant, a joint project of Energy Solutions Consortium and Caithness Energy, is expected to occur late this spring on county-owned property in Clarksburg’s Montpelier Addition, according to John Black, vice president of development for Energy Solutions Consortium. Black was in town Thursday to address members of the Harrison County Development Authority at their regular meeting. The meeting had to be canceled for lack of a quorum, but Black did provide an update on the project to those who were there.
Engineering work already has started at the Glen Falls substation, he said. “There will be an expansion of the Glen Falls substation, and that’s where we’ll sell our power. That’s our point of interconnect” via a 1.8-mile transmission line, Black said. According to Black, the plant will support 400 jobs during construction, which will be filled using union laborers. The plant will have between 15 and 25 permanent employees, but will support other maintenance and supply businesses in the area. There may be additional opportunity for the construction laborers who come on board in Harrison County.
Energy Solutions Consortium is also moving forward on a larger, 830-megawatt natural gas power plant in Brooke County. That project is approximately two months behind the Harrison County project, according to Black. “Our hope is to stagger them just enough that some of the labor can be switching from one to the other,” he said. The company estimates the annual overall economic impact of the Harrison County project will be about $880 million. “The financial commitment not only to our area, but the state of West Virginia, is substantial,” said Harrison County Administrator Willie Parker.
Once construction is complete, the energy generated at the plant will flow into the PJM power grid, Black said. The PJM grid covers all or part of 13 states, including West Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to the transmission organization’s website. Some owners of property adjoining the power plant site have addressed the company with concerns regarding the facility’s aesthetics, noise levels and impact on traffic, but Black said the company has been able to allay those fears.
The facility will be “very compact” at 12 acres, with a 180-foot stack that “won’t even go above the ridge line.” There will not be a visible plume, and emissions will be “well below permit limits,” Black said. The plant will run at about 55-65 decibels. According to information from Purdue University, 60 decibels is about the noise level of restaurant conversation, background music or an air-conditioning unit at a distance of 100 feet. Traffic will enter the property via a new access road rather than on Pinnickinnick Street, he said.
According to Black, Harrison County was the ideal location for the plant because of its interconnection, fuel supply, labor development opportunities and water and sewer availability. “The real key is fuel. We’re in the heart of the fuel. To be able to get this kind of supply with only a six-mile pipeline to a major interstate is just huge for us,” Black said. Both the fuel and the transportation of that fuel to the plant will be handled by West Virginia companies, he said. EQT will construct a 6-mile pipeline to transport the gas into the plant, Black said. “Our gas bill every year is $110 million, and that’s West Virginia gas,” Black said. That will benefit the natural gas industry in West Virginia as a whole, said Harrison County Development Authority President Michael Jenkins.
“That’s long-term severance tax revenue back to the taxpayers,” Jenkins said. “The biggest holdup to more drilling in the state and producing more wells and more royalty is having somewhere to utilize natural gas. These plants become instantly one of the largest consumers of natural gas in the region and start to build more demand for the natural gas.”
Developers will turn over their access road to the state, and water and sewer utilities will be oversized to help accommodate additional development, Black said. “Once we are finished with it, we’re going to have 16 acres of property right next door perfect for people to come in and be a supplier to us. We’re going to have a brand new road, water and sewer access … and we’re updating the internet into the property,” he said. Harrison County Commission President Ron Watson said he hopes the infrastructure infusion in the area can spur additional growth surrounding the site.
“It’s a beautiful day to be in Harrison County. The sun is shining brightly when you talk about half a billion dollars to build this that’s going to be back into our economy. We’ve been waiting, going through the hoops, and it will be a reality when the shovel digs,” he said.Watson said he expects the commission to reinvest funds from the eventual sale of the county property to plant developers into development in the plant area.
Comments Off on Bridgeport, WV Economic Development 2019 – VIDEO
Bridgeport has become a leader in economic development in West Virginia. Bridgeport is featured in this video by the West Virginia Municipal League as they tell the story of economic development around the state. Click on the image below to watch the full video.
Comments Off on Morgantown, WV – 2018 Top 100 Best Places to Live
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 housingoptions 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.
Comments Off on DOE Report shows potential for petrochemical Hub in Appalachia
A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy further validated the benefits of and need for the Appalachian Storage and Trade Hub.
The subsequent DOE report from this study sent to members of Congress, titled “Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States,” shed light on the advancing natural gas industries in the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions covering West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania during the past decade due to innovations like hydraulic fracturing. The report stated that the region, in view of it also being home to the undeveloped Rogersville, effectively make it an energy super power.
“Continued technological advancements and improvements in industry practices are expected to lower costs and to increase the volume of oil and natural gas recovery per well,” the report read. “The Appalachian Basin’s shale resource endowment is so bountiful that, were it an independent country, the region would be the world’s third largest producer of natural gas today.”
While the U.S. Gulf Coast has been the nation’s historic hub of natural gas storage and activity, data from the report projects that Appalachian and East Coast states will produce more than 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas by the year 2050, which is more than the combined total tons of the Gulf Coast and the rest of the country.
“I’m not surprised at all, to be honest,” Appalachian Development Group President and CEO Steve Hedrick said regarding the DOE’s study. “I think it certainly validates the strategic importance of the Appalachian trading hub and what we have talked about as to the positive impacts it can have to our nation and certainly our allies around the world.”
In addition to providing as many as 100,000 jobs and tax revenue in downstream development projects, Hedrick added that such a storage hub would better enable the United States to supply the world with reliable energy, natural gas liquids and other products.
The hub itself took a crucial step toward reality in September when the Appalachian Development Group selected California-based Parsons Corp. as its engineering, procurement and construction partner. Since then, Hedrick said, potential sites have been narrowed down and negotiations with landowners are underway. The task now is to secure capital funding and conduct geological testing to ensure the sites in question are the right fit.
James Wood, interim director of the West Virginia University Energy Institute, said the visit to Appalachia by U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in 2017 was what helped kickstart efforts to make the storage hub a reality
“What was new to him, I think, was that this hub is likely to be built in rock and not in salt domes,” Wood explained. “He’s also pretty knowledgeable of the vulnerability of the (Mont Belvieu) hub down in Texas to periodic storm events and he knows that a hub up here is closer to markets.”
Wood also noted that a storage hub in Appalachia would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions because fewer pipelines and compression stations would be needed to move product to market. Under the status quo, gas collected in West Virginia must be transported to the Gulf Coast before it’s refined and shipped north again where most of the market is.
He said that while the Appalachian Development Group and Parsons Corporation are moving forward with developing the hub itself, WVU hosts several initiatives aimed at improving the natural gas industry. Research by the Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization to produce baking soda out of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of coal power plants and natural gas well operations, is one such example. Various technologies and software systems are also being tested at the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Lab at the Morgantown Industrial Park by university researchers in partnership with private companies.
“This report affirms what we have been talking about for years,” Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., said. “Natural gas production in the region has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. West Virginia and surrounding states are poised to become a leader in petrochemicals and manufacturing, but we need to build the necessary infrastructure to make it work.”
The DOE study also concluded that building an Appalachian shale storage hub is not necessarily in conflict with Gulf Coast expansion. This is because Appalachian capacity may serve regional demand for natural gas liquid derivatives, freeing up Gulf Coast production for other markets including exports overseas.
The report also favored the Appalachian region itself since nearly one-third of U.S. activity in the petrochemical ecosystem occurs within 300 miles of Pittsburgh, with over $300 billion of net revenue, 900,000 workers, and 7,500 establishments.
“As we watch hurricanes threaten Gulf Coast production, the Shale Crescent region offers a more insulated, affordable alternative to supplement production,” said Shale Crescent USA Co-founder Jerry James. “We continue to work closely with industry leaders to capitalize on the advantages the Shale Crescent region has to offer, and we are thrilled that the DOE is dedicating efforts to underscore these advantages and support our endeavor to bring more petrochemical investment to the region.”
Comments Off on 8,000 Jobs Added Within Past Decade in North Central WV
North Central West Virginia continues to lead the state in economic progress, according to local experts.
Although many other areas of the Mountain State lag behind national averages in most major economic indicators, the North Central region has continued to thrive and grow, according to John Deskins, director of the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
“North Central West Virginia is more stable than the nation, it seems. Or, at least, the patterns of the last couple of decades have indicated we have greater stability,” Deskins said. “The region’s economy is very resilient. Part of that depends on the fact that we have some really important federal employment in the region; we have the university in the region; and we have a lot of health care in the region. Those sectors of the economy tend to be really stable,” he said.
The Bureau of Business and Economic Research recently released a study analyzing the NCWV region’s economy over the past few years and looking ahead to expected economic performance through 2023, Deskins said. Businesses in Monongalia, Marion, Harrison and Preston counties added more than 8,000 jobs between early-2010 and mid-2018, resulting in cumulative growth of more than 7 percent, according to the study.
In Harrison County, many of the new jobs can be attributed to rebounding natural gas production and natural gas pipeline infrastructure under construction, Deskins said. “That’s actually something that’s creating benefits in other counties in the state as well, not just the North Central region,” he said. “But definitely the construction projects that have been going on have definitely helped employment and a whole host of economic measures here in North Central.,” he said. “There is lots of stuff going on with the pipeline construction. That’s in Harrison County, and it’s affecting other parts of our region, as well.”
Sherry Rogers, executive director of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce, said Lewis County has also experienced positive economic gains over the last year, mainly due to increased natural gas pipeline construction in the area. “There are some businesses that have seen an increase in their revenues due to the pipeline and the influx of pipeliners coming to the area and staying in the area,” she said. “Our retail and our restaurants have seen an increase due to that.” Several new businesses have recently opened their doors in and around Weston, Rogers said. “Here in Lewis County we have thriving entrepreneurship,” she said. “We’re comprised mostly of small businesses and we have some exciting new businesses that have opened that have opened this year or are opening.”
These include a retail shop in downtown Weston, a newly opened restaurant and a distillery, MannCave Distillery, Rodgers said. Patricia Henderson, director of the Taylor County Development Authority, said her county’s economy remains stable, partially do to continued coal mining activity. “Right now we are similar with the other areas in the state,” she said. “We do have a coal mine here, and that’s certainly helping us. Leer Mine still producing and moving a lot of coal through the railroad.” The county hopes to attract more oil and gas related companies to settle in the Taylor County area, Henderson said.
“We are trying to attract new businesses, and like all the other counties throughout the state, we are trying to recruit some of the oil and gas into our county,” she said. “In 2018, we had some property that the development authority marketed, and we did have an oil and gas company purchase that property to build some of their field offices. So we’re excited about that. That is a three-year plan.”
Taylor County recently became the recipient of a grant that will be used to perform a broadband internet study, Henderson said. “One of the problems that we hear a lot is the fact that we don’t have high speed internet in a lot of the areas of our county,” she said. “So we’ve got a grant to do a study that will help us to asses our needs and see where our underserved and unserved areas are so we can identify them. Then we can potentially go after some federal funds to help with that.”
Comments Off on White Oaks Development Continues Expansion
The White Oaks development in Bridgeport, located just off the Jerry Drove Exit on Interstate 79, continues to grow and expand as more offices, retail locations and other businesses open their doors. The 472-acre business park has seen a flurry of construction activity over the past year, and developers plan to soon announce details of new projects planned there, said Austin Thrasher, White Oaks project manager. “Here pretty soon I think we’re going to have an announcement for some more earthworks construction going on for White Oaks that will develop some more pad space,” he said. “I would expect that we’ll probably be pulling the trigger within the next month and making that announcement.”
The most recent additions to White Oaks include a 3,300-square-foot Clear Mountain Bank location and an 8,749-square-foot commercial building that houses a Starbucks and several other businesses, Thrasher said. “We’ve got the bank, and then the retail (building), with Starbucks, Elegant Nails and Bridgeport Physical Therapy that have all moved into there,” he said. “Then down the hill below TGI Friday’s we have Regional Eye Associates that just opened up there. We’ve also got Tenmile Land, a land company that opened up right across from Steptoe and Johnson.”
David Thomas, Clear Mountain Bank’s CEO and president, said White Oaks was chosen to house the branch due to is central location. “The White Oaks community is just so vibrant right now,” Thomas said. “There is a lot of activity going on and a lot of businesses around. From that perspective, it was a big draw to provide easy access to our customers.” A multi million-dollar facility that will provide living space for senior citizens, which will be called The Crossings at Bridgeport, is also under construction and is expected to be completed next year, Thrasher said. Aubury Holmes, development manager for Smith/Packett, a senior housing and care development company based in Virginia that will operate the facility, said it will provide a variety of accommodations and services. “This will be a 94,629-square-foot senior living community with assisted living and memory care,” she said. “There will be several amenities, including physical therapy, exercise room, theater, bistro, activity space, outdoor courtyards and walking paths, van transportation to transport residents to activities within the community and a central kitchen with three meals day.” The project has a total budget of approximately $23.15 million, Holmes said.
White Oaks, which was founded in 2008, has kept pace with its developers’ expectations for growth, Thrasher said. “It’s been very exciting for us. It’s definitely picked up pace since the development started,” he said. “It has done what I think everybody hoped it would do from the beginning. Over the last year and half or two years it seems like it has really picked up some speed.” The addition of direct flights to Washington, D.C., and Chicago out of the nearby North Central West Virginia Airport has contributed to White Oaks’ continued growth, Thrasher said. “I certainly don’t think it has hurt,” he said. “I know a lot of people with some existing businesses there have been using that a lot. I think it has serviced our area really well.” “That whole area out there has really been great for the city of Bridgeport and for the county and for North Central West Virginia,” Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang said. “I think that it’s great they are going to continue to expand.”
The development is divided into three sections, or “phases,” Thrasher said. “In Phase 1, which is where you see most of the buildings, we are closing in toward kind of the end remaining parcels,” he said. “Phase 2 starts with the Thrasher building and goes down to where the assisted living facility will be. They are really kicking off Phase 2 as the first people jumping in there.” In Phase 3, which is still largely vacant, developers estimate White Oaks will continue along its current growth trajectory for the next couple of decades, Thrasher said. “There is probably 20 more years worth of development to happen,” he said. “That’s the plan going forward: To build it out and hope they keep coming.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bridgeport Listed by USA Today as One of “America’s 50 Best Cities to Live” in Online Money Section
In an edition of USA Today’s on-line edition, the City of Bridgeport received a little bit of love from the Money section of the newspaper. The publication released its “America’s 50 Best Cities to Live” and Bridgeport made the cut. In fact, it was the only municipality in the Mountain State to make the list.
Bridgeport came in at No. 46. The Web site states that “24/7 Wall Street created a weighted index of over two-dozen measures to identify the best American cities to live in. The communities on this list span the country from coast to coast but are disproportionately concentrated in the Midwest.”
According to the article, in the city “45.3 percent” of adults have graduated from college, nearly the highest share of cities in the state. The high college attainment rate has likely contributed to the town’s relatively high median household income of $80,462 a year.”
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.
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.
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 here. The 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.”
Monongalia, Preston enjoy hotel occupancy spike that beats even state’s solid year
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),
“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.”
The warmer months are filled with heavy commercial real estate activity. Prospects are looking for market opportunities and deals are getting done at a rapid clip.
On the personal front, summer is also filled with travel, family time and fun adventures. Click on the button below to see a sneak peak of what our team has been up to this summer.
Mark Nesselroad: Mark J. Nesselroad: “Mark and his family are holding onto summer as long as they can. Some of their favorite parts include spending time outdoors, enjoying extra garden vegetables from Mark’s father’s garden, family birthdays, and splashing at the pool. Mark and his son enjoyed WVU baseball’s unique father/son camp at which they camped overnight in a tent at Monongalia County Ballpark. His family also adopted a new family member – a 1.5 year old black and tan coonhound named Lucy!
David Lorenze: Armed with a small computer in his pocket, David was able to enjoy several trips while staying on top of deal activity. David enjoyed a relaxing trip to Sandbridge, VA with his in-laws, explored the growing area of North Myrtle Beach with his parents, sister and three small kids, plus adored some quality time with his wife while attending a wedding in Las Vegas. David’s favorite memory from the summer was seeing his two young daughters work together to capture sand crabs. Their expressions were priceless!
Murphy Holloway: Murphy has made great progress towards earning his CCIM designation. In June he attend the User Decision Analysis for Commercial Investment Real Estate course in Denver, Colorado and just got back from Dallas, Texas for the Investment Analysis for Commercial Investment Real Estate course. He has completed all of the required courses and is excited to take the final cumulative test to earn his designation. Murphy is deeply rooted in Wheeling, WV and has enjoyed multiple trips “back home” to visit with family and friends.
Jeff Stenger: While Jeff’s primary focus this summer was establishing and maintaining client relations at Black Diamond Realty, he was able to get away for a long weekend at a cabin with friends at Deep Creek Lake. Jeff is looking forward to seeing his sister and her family in Charlotte, NC next month when WVU plays Tennessee at the Belk College Kickoff Classic.
Janelle Zeoli: As a native of eastern Pennsylvania, Janelle made the decision, along with her husband, to move back to their hometown in Morgantown, PA. It was a tough decision but they have deep roots in this area. They hope to soon find their permanent location and purchase their first home. In her free time, Janelle enjoys creative crafts and spending time with her husband and their German Shepherd dog, family and friends. She looks forward to making the trip out to West Virginia each month to reconnect with the Black Diamond team.
At Black Diamond, we work hard to maintain a positive and healthy work-life balance. Our substantial growth over the past two years can be credited to our team approach and family atmosphere. In an effort to continue providing top-shelf, quality performance/results to our clients, Black Diamond recently expanded its human capital with the additions of Chris Waters and Jeff Wise. They both bring diverse, extensive and credible experience to our team.
In addition to North Central WV (Bridgeport/Clarksburg to Morgantown), our expanded, strong team of 7 allows Black Diamond to broaden its focus to other areas of our great state and throughout southwestern PA. We look forward to becoming more heavily involved in the Uniontown, Waynesburg, Washington, and Wheeling market areas. Black Diamond is a chamber of commerce member of the three counties that collectively constitute its “back yard,” and we look forward to being more heavily involved in additional communities.
From our family to yours, we wish you a summer filled with many more great memories. Cheers to exciting times that lie ahead!
After 30 years of inactivity, the site of the old Owens-Illinois glass factory is finally seeing new development, as a Morgantown developer has committed to reinvigorating what’s now being called the Speedway Business Park.
In 2015, Merit Development, LLC purchased the land in east Fairmont with hopes to capitalize on the growing economic status of North Central West Virginia, according to Merit Development President Tom Laurita.
“With the growth of Morgantown and the Bridgeport/Clarksburg area, we felt that Fairmont has become sort of a sweet spot and is in a position to experience growth in the near future,” Laurita said.
In the years since the purchase of the property, Laurita and Merit Development Asset Manager Russell Bolyard said that plenty of behind-the-scenes work has been underway, despite development itself not starting until June 1 of this year.
“We’re really still in the early preliminary stages of development,” Bolyard said. “We’re moving the earth. There was a lot of prep work since 2015 that went into the permitting and the cleanup of the site to prepare it for constriction … All of that work had to be done in order to start the earth work…
“It was a good bit of work. There was testing and the studying of the area, and then the development of the cleanup plan and the cleanup. It took about two years. We got our final completion report in late January of this year,” he said.
In addition, Fairmont City Planner Sandra Scaffidi said Merit has been doing some heavy work to make sure that, once completed, the park won’t be affected by heavy rainfall or flooding.
“They’ve been working with FEMA to change the flood-way there to create more developable land,” Scaffidi said. “There’s a channel that runs right through the property, Originally, it was wide and shallow, so now they’re making it narrower and deeper. It’ll retain the same amount of water, but create more developable land.”
Bolyard said that Merit is about 25 or 30 percent finished with the earth-moving, with hopes to be fully completed with this phase of development by the end of autumn.
The development, Bolyard said, would be a huge boom to the area, bringing in businesses, jobs and hope to Fairmont.
“The area is zoned industrial right now, and so it a commercial aspect to that and light industrial work could be done there,” Bolyard said. “We hope to attract business that will improve that area. We’re hoping to provide more jobs and be an asset to Fairmont.”
Scaffidi agreed, and said that the park, once completed, could change the face of the east side for the better.
“Aside from bringing quality jobs into our area and increasing our tax base, they are reusing a piece of land that was considered a Brownfields site,” Scaffidi said. “We can’t make new land in Fairmont, so we have to reuse what we have. I think they are creating a whole new energy on east side, putting new businesses there and encouraging new development.”
Earlier in July, Bolyard and Laurita attended a Fairmont City Council meeting, hoping the city would go along with their plan to name the park’s future roads Glass Avenue, Bottle Works Avenue and Progress Street, each named in dedication to the work done at the site before Merit’s involvement. The council unanimously passed the ordinance to name the streets.
“The actual naming is a play on the historical significance of the site with the Owens-Illinois glass factory,” Laurita said. “It was a major employer at one time, and there’s a lot of history in glass-making on that site, so we saw the history and decided to continue that and make sure people remember what was there and how great it once was. Hopefully, we can bring it back.”
Bolyard shared his sentiment, and said that with the new park, they hope to bring the site back to its former glory.
“It was a productive area at one time,” Bolyard said. “Over 1,000 people were employed there. We actually named one of the streets that will go in there ‘Progress Avenue.’We’re working with the city to bring that area back into a progressive state. It was dormant for over 30 years. We hope people tolerate us while we’re here doing the work so we can bring it back into a progressive state.”
While the park is still a long way from completion, work is being done every day, and Laurita said that soon Fairmont will be treated to a high quality, well-maintained business park.
“I hope it becomes a fully developed, vibrant community business park — a place where Fairmont residents can have a place to work and hopefully shop and whatever they need to do in the area. We can create a vibrant community once again on the east side.”
Comments Off on White Oaks continues development in 3-phase build-out
White Oaks continues development in 3-phase build-out. The White Oaks planned business community comprises 470 acres that are home to offices, FBI support services, medical support services, oil ad gas businesses, national retailers, restaurants and vital amenities.
Located at the intersection of Interstate 79 and W.Va. 279, the busy corridor sees an estimated average of 48,500 vehicles per day. It is adjacent to the $350 million United Hospital Center, at the doorstep of the FBI’s CJIS Division and the Biometric Center of Excellence. White Oaks is also located in the heart of Marcellus Shale play.
Retail Village Building 2 is under construction, with the first tenant to be Starbucks, Bridgeport Community Development Director Andrea Kerr said.
Starbucks occupies 2,200 square feet of the 8,749-square-foot building located directly across from Building 1, she said.
“Starbucks is estimated to cost about $175,000, while the entire Retail 2 shell is $884,320. The second building will be similar in size to the first one, with room for additional tenants,” Kerr said.
Thrasher said Starbucks will be located in the far right end of Retail Village 2 and feature a drive-through.
“We are looking to turn over that portion of the building to the company by June 1,” Thrasher said. “It will also have a 550-square-foot patio. I anticipate it opening late this year.”
Cove Run Construction is doing the site work on Retail 2. Lee Reger Builds is the building construction contractor.
“There are four more bays available, with interested parties in discussion. We have no final contracts at this time,” Thrasher said.
Clear Mountain Bank will be located directly behind Retail Village 2. Cove Run is doing the site work.
“They are about ready to bid the architectural work,” Thrasher said. “Regional Eye Associates will be located near Friday’s, with Cove Run preparing the site and Elite Custom Builders doing the construction.”
Phase II and Phase III are being marketed now, with Elite Custom Builders to be located across from the W.Va. 131 entrance to White Oaks near Bear Express and the Shell fuel station in an area referred to as The Wedge, Thrasher said.
A large vehicle dealership, Freedom Kia, opened in 2017 in Phase III of White Oaks, located off W.Va. 131.
Hermasilla’s Deli Market, a longtime staple of the Fairmont community, recently opened the doors to a 32-seat second location at White Oaks.
Along with its signature sandwiches — which feature hand-sliced meats, a wide selection of cheeses and an array of toppings, condiments and vegetables — the establishment also offers salads and sells meats and cheeses in bulk.
“White Oaks has been very aggressive in developing their property. They don’t stop in the winter. It is a year-round operation,” Kerr said. “It is good for them and great for us. It is a fantastic partnership that we hope to see continue for many more years.”
Craig Baker, Architecture Division manager for the Thrasher Group, agreed with that sentiment.
“White Oaks should be commended for their steadfast commitment to the architectural design covenants of the park. They had a vision of what they wanted the park to be and stuck with it,” Baker said. “One thing that makes White Oaks special is how they continually strive to maintain their identity as one of West Virginia’s premier business locations. With the addition of the park and trail system, White Oaks has maintained its identity as a great place to work and play.”
White Oaks Phase II does not currently have any lots sold. It is located just past the Manchin Clinic Assisted Living Facility that opened late last year.
Thrasher explained that while Phase I and II are primarily billed as a high-end business park, Phase II will also be for industrial use. Freedom Kia is the first business to locate in that area.
Freedom Kia was previously located on Emily Drive. However, it began to outgrow its space and decided to move in October.
“It came to a point where the volume of sales, our service department could not support. It was a situation where to continue to grow and provide our customers the support and service we want them to continue to have, we needed to give them a facility to be able to do that,” General Manager Jadd Buchanan said.
The dealership facility cost around $5 million, an investment that allowed the company to stay local.
“This became our home. We built a business here, and we didn’t want to abandon the customers we had sold to or serviced over the years,” Buchanan said. “We wanted to provide a location that was much more user-friendly as far as access — now it’s right off I-79, Exit 125 on Saltwell Road. It’s easier to get to for our employees who live in the area, and our residents in this direct area, so I think that was an easy decision.”
In its new location, Freedom Kia has tripled the size of its service department, having gone from four lifts to 12, and added a substantial amount of inventory. The space also includes a car wash, which is complimentary when a car is brought in for servicing, and it’s generally more accessible.
General Sales Manager Dorsey Larew said the larger facility has several perks.
“We can house more mechanics, and therefore get you in and out faster. Sales display was a little tough when you’re parking in a parking lot versus an actual dealership that was built for that, so that’s been good,” Larew said. “With the lot, you can drive around and be able to look at all of our cars without having to get out of yours.”
Located at 97 Joy Lane near Bridgeport, accessibility is a prime feature of the new location.
“We’re a lot more convenient to get in and out of,” Larew said. “Going down Emily Drive, it was tough to get in and out.”
In addition to offering online credit applications and service appointments, a two-year maintenance plan and a lifetime of state inspections on every car purchased at the location, Freedom Kia also has people who truly enjoy their work, said Jeannie Boyles, who has been the receptionist for six years.
“We have great people who work here. They’re dedicated, friendly, and are happy to be here,” Boyles said. “That’s important for the company — to be able to come to work and know what you’re doing. It brings a lot of customers in from around the area, and the customers appreciate that, knowing we care about them that much.”
For the future, Buchanan is looking forward to continued growth and being able to enhance customer service even more, staying focused on giving every individual personal help. At the new location, Freedom Kia offers several complimentary amenities, including local transportation, a kids entertainment room, and more.
Baker-Hughes owns a parcel in Phase III, but there has been no word on the future plans of the company for the site, Thrasher said.
“We work with other developers, but own main developer is White Oaks Business Park and we work with Black Diamond Realty, Morgantown.
Comments Off on FBI’s headquarters project to bring hundreds of positions to Clarksburg facility
Hundreds of jobs are expected to be shifted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) facility in Clarksburg as part of the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing Wednesday morning to discuss that project with representatives of the FBI Finance Division and the General Services Administration (GSA) Public Buildings Service.
“In the revised plan, there is a plan if consolidation occurs downtown, the CJIS Center in Clarksburg would have several hundred jobs moving into West Virginia,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said during the hearing. “That would be an important development for me, obviously, as that facility continues to grow and become more professional and more highly technological. We would welcome that prospect of having those employees move out into West Virginia, as many have moved there before and have realized the wild and wonderful live is a pretty good one out in West Virginia.”
The FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project began as a means to replace the J. Edgar Hoover (JEH) building that the FBI has occupied since 1974.
Richard L. Haley II, assistant director of the FBI’s Finance, Facilities and Real Property Division, said while the mission of the FBI has evolved, the building itself has not kept pace and is instead falling apart as evidenced by crumbling facades and deteriorating infrastructure.
“This makes it difficult to address rapidly developing threats and collaborate across divisions and programs,” Haley said. “As an organization, we must be able to stay current with constantly changing technologies that make our jobs both easier and harder.
“Simply put, the existing J. Edgar Hoover building is obsolete, inefficient, and faces a number of security vulnerabilities,” he said.
Thus the current J. Edgar Hoover building would be demolished and the construction of a new building would occur on the same site.
During the construction phase, FBI employees would relocate to “swing space,” such as the Clarksburg facility while the existing facility is under construction.
In total, the FBI will be moving more than 2,500 positions — both employees and contractors — to its owned facilities across the nation, which includes not only Clarksburg but also Huntsville, Alabama, Pocatello, Idaho, and Quantico, Virginia.
“It is anticipated that several hundred positions could be shifted to FBI facilities in Clarksburg, West Virginia and Pocatello, Idaho, while the remainder would be realigned to Huntsville, Alabama,” Haley said. “The FBI already has a substantial presence in each of these communities.”
The FBI previously proposed a procurement that would have moved forward with constructing a new suburban facility, but upon a review of real estate costs and footprints, it was decided that demolition and reconstruction would be less costly.
Together, the FBI and GSA began to review and seriously consider the possibility of staying at the current location, determining multiple advantages to doing so, including the property’s proximity other departmental headquarters, inspection facilities, utility plants, Metro lines and road and bus networks.
Thus, a plan to rebuild on the site began. As part of the evaluation, three options were considered: a phased renovation of the existing building, a renovation of a fully vacant facility or a demolition of the current facility and construction of a new building on the site.
“A phase renovation, we determined, would take 15 years, cost more money and deliver you a less successful product than demolishing and rebuilding a new structure,” said Daniel Mathews, commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service. “New construction allows us to build a facility that can house 8,300 people, instead of a smaller number in a renovated facility. In addition, new construction can mitigate security threats more effectively with tailored designs, newer materials and current construction techniques.”
Overall, Mathews said, the demolition-rebuild allows for the facility to be built faster, cheaper and with less risk than a renovation.
However, the demolition-rebuild is estimated to cost $3.3 billion and require 6 years to occupancy, which makes the relocation of employees to facilities such as Clarksburg’s CJIS vital.
“These other sites that we have identified have been part of our physical portfolio for many years, and while the way forward includes enhancing the use of these sites, these sites are not new to the FBI,” Haley said. “The FBI’s long history at these locations suggests that the functions and staff realigned to those locations can be successful in performing mission operations.”
Comments Off on An Increase In Leads Generates Closed Deals
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.
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.
Comments Off on Legislators Updated on China Energy Deal
Commerce Secretary Hopes China Energy Project Will Begin This Year.
CHARLESTON – Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher offered legislators a few new tidbits — though still no specifics — on the $83.7 billion China Energy agreement. Thrasher addressed a Jan. 9 joint meeting of the interim Natural Gas Development and Energy committees. Answering a question if this is a deal to simply sell off our resources, he said no. “It is bricks and mortar facilities for the purpose of generating value-added products in the petrochemical industry.”
The immediate goal is a single project, though he wouldn’t say what it is. “We are working actively on that project one step at a time.” He continued, “Our goal is to expedite the initial project as quickly as we can for a variety of reasons. And I’m hopeful that the details of that begin to unfold in the next few months.” He hopes to see some construction by the end of this year, he said.
Most people guess that the unspecified projects are some sort of manufacturing facilities that would use the products generated from cracker plants being developed for the region. Thrasher speculated that the majority of the market for the China Energy-related projects would be overseas, predominately China. But the focus is on employing local residents in businesses that pay taxes to West Virginia, and selling the products those businesses produce. “It makes sense from a business model.”
Thrasher said he had no specific timeframe for any aspect of what’s unfolding, but during three visits with the people from China Energy, he’s seen a “great sense of urgency.” He’s heading back to China on Saturday, he said, to meet the company’s new board. “These are big projects. They’re significant.”
Thrasher said last week’s announcement from Appalachia Development Group – a subsidiary of Charleston-based high-tech firm MATRIC – provides an important step forward. The group announced on Jan. 3 that it was invited to submit a Part II Application for a $1.9 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee to support the development of infrastructure for the Appalachia Storage & Trading Hub, which would store natural gas liquids for a regional plastics industry.
The group said that the American Chemistry Council believes the hub would serve as a catalyst for the creation of an estimated $36 billion in follow-on petrochemical investments and more than 100,000 new long-term jobs, drawing resources from Marcellus, Utica and Rogersville shale deposits.
Thrasher said that the Department of Energy’s action “has significant impact in terms of the risk level of folks coming in.” Jim Crews, vice president of business development for MArkWest Energy Partners, offered the legislators additional prospective on the region’s potential.
“The United States, and the Appalachian Basin, is the Saudi Arabia for the production of natural gas liquids,” he said.
Colorado-based MarkWest is a midstream gas processor with three West Virginia facilities. It’s Sherwood plant in the Doddridge County is the nation’s fourth largest and will soon be expanded to become the largest. He offered a somewhat technical slideshow on how the gas liquids – ethane, propane and butane – are separated from the methane and sent on for further production.
The wet natural gas in this region, he said, contains enough ethane – used in light plastics – to feed six cracker plants. Some of it now gets shipped south to the Gulf for processing, but most goes to waste because it’s too expensive to ship and there’s no industry here yet to process it.
Comments Off on Happy 2018! Another Year Is In The Record Books
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.
Comments Off on The Retail Apocalypse Is Not Among Us All
“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.
Comments Off on Defense In Depth to cater to new and experienced shooters
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.
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.
Comments Off on WVU Medicine Children’s Announces $152-Million Project
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.
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.
Comments Off on Crossings Construction Continues – The Dominion Post
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.
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.
Comments Off on Black Diamond Prepares Dinner for the Rosenbaum Family House – 9/11
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.
Comments Off on WVU-led research team lays foundation for natural gas storage ‘hub’; opportunity for economic growth in the region
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.
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.
Comments Off on Opening Day – WV Box & Ship – The Dominion Post
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.
Our team is often asked, “How is the market?” Some brokers may respond with a generic, “good”. If you are interested in a general response, we are happy to report the market is currently “great.” Black Diamond Realty’s pipeline is the busiest it has been in its four-year history. That said, we suspect you are more interested in a sophisticated, detailed response. Look no further; we have your answers.
At Black Diamond Realty, one of our competitive advantages is our thorough and detailed process. We track every single lead. This allows us to present you with accurate statistics that serve as a reflection of market demand across all sectors. Keep in mind our statistics are influenced by Black Diamond Realty’s current inventory of assets. The following statistics provide the number of sector leads since January 1, 2017:
Do you believe in the mantra that tells you to focus on what you can control? We do, too. However, we also believe it is not wise to bury your head in the sand. It is critical to think about how macroeconomic factors influence regional market demand. Two positive influencers are currently in play.
Historically speaking, interest rates remain near all-time lows. This bodes well for investors looking to get into investment opportunities. Although cash is king, we are seeing a lot of companies and individuals levering up to take advantage of favorable bank rates. Refinances have flocked through banks’ doors. Sellers also like low interest rates because funds are cheaper to secure which results in higher valuations while still clearing bank debt-coverage ratios.
The second macroeconomic factor relates to the reenergization (pun intended) of Marcellus Shale activity. Oil and gas pricing is fluid, literally and figuratively. Pricing has seen nominal rises over the past 12 months. However, recent industrial space demand leads us to believe many companies on the front lines sense prices moving north in the coming years. We suspect their goal is to get established in this area while industrial real estate values are still relatively inexpensive. This will heighten their ability to capture the market and capitalize on contracts as things ramp up. Many articles reference cracker plants and pipelines as the saving grace to lowering the current supply glut. These two variables are currently progressing in a very big way. The O&G industry has potential to replace job losses from coal. Time will tell if this is a long-term regional industrial revolution.
Where?… Concentrated Areas of Development
Jobs drive economic growth, and there are plenty of jobs coming to two booming exits along the I-79 corridor. University Town Center/West Ridge and White Oaks Business Parks are the two distinct front runners when considering development hubs in north central WV. University Town Center and WestRidge, both located at I-79, Exit 153, lead the charge as driving forces behind retail and office development in Monongalia County. Simply put, this new exit has created significant buzz in Monongalia County which is expected to remain in play for the next three to five years. A lot of announcements will happen in the coming months. 2018 is slated to be a heavy construction year for this development.
Thirty miles south of Morgantown, White Oaks Business Park is leading the development charge for Harrison County. Numerous Class A office buildings, spanning a plethora of services, hotels, retail space and several restaurants round out the line-up for this state-of-the-art development. White Oaks is an upscale development, which includes sidewalks throughout and pristine landscaping, while serving as “the talk” of Harrison County as it capitalizes on close proximity to the interstate, UHC and FBI’s Campus. Growth and positive economic announcements are projected to continue in the coming years.
Comments Off on Valley Worlds of Fun Searches for New Owner – WBOY12
PLEASANT VALLEY – Valley Worlds of Fun has been part of Marion County’s history for decades. Now, the property is for sale and it has residents worried about what it means for the future of the entertainment center.
Since 1972, Bruce Martin’s family has been the name behind Valley Worlds of Fun. It started as Valley Lanes, a 32-lane bowling alley. Then came the entertainment center, which Bruce’s father, Bob, started with a purpose. “He just had always felt some kind of a mission in life to provide the kids in the neighborhood a place to play. He thought we were pretty lacking in recreational stuff in the area and he just always wanted to give back in that way,” said Bruce Martin, Co-Owner of Valley Worlds of Fun. But several years ago, Bob suffered a stroke. It was around the time of the recession, when families cut expenses for recreational activities. Bruce said the aging population did not help, either. “One of the challenges we’ve had over the years is since the population doesn’t change on a regular basis, we needed to change so that it didn’t become boring or old had to people. We needed to make it new and exciting all the time and that’s certainly a challenge,” said Bruce Martin.
Now, it is for sale for $1.9 million, plus $200,000 for the attractions. The Martin family is looking for someone who will buy the property as is and improve it as a family entertainment center. Within the last several years, new attractions like archery tag, knocker balls and a new laser tag system have been installed. “We’ve just reached a point where I’d love to find somebody that this is their primary focus want to carry on the tradition for the neighborhood,” Bruce Martin said.
Bruce said all events scheduled at Valley Worlds of Fun will continue as planned and his family will continue with ownership until a sale is finalized.
Comments Off on Thrillist.com Names Morgantown the Best Small Town in West Virginia
West Virginia: Morgantown – Population: 31,073
No small town in WVA is more worthy of a visit than the home of West Virginia University. Game days in Mo-Town are no joke, and the bar scene here rivals any major-conference college town. Suds and sports aside, Morgantown sits near the Cheat River, one of the premiere whitewater destinations in America. And a hike to the top of Coopers Rock gives you a jaw-dropping, vertigo-inducing peek into the 1,200ft gorge below. — M.M.
Comments Off on White Oaks Continues to Expand, Attract Variety of Industries – The State Journal WV
Nearly a decade after construction first began to develop White Oaks off Jerry Dove Drive, the Bridgeport business park continues to live up to the expectations of Woody Thrasher and Jack Keeley.
“When I started to work with high tech, there were no buildings here,” said Ron Stanley, manager of the White Oaks development. “Steptoe & Johnson had just closed on their parcel, and shortly thereafter, Premier Bank did. It has really, I think, for our area, exploded.”
Comments Off on Businesses Anticipate Next Oil, Gas Boom with Projects on Horizon
Multiple projects and more drilling rigs are sure signs that the oil and gas industry is going to have a very big presence in West Virginia for years to come, according to officials. Click here to read more, or continue reading below.
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.
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.