W.Va. Governor Releases November Edge Business Report

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West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin this month released the West Virginia Edge Business Report. The report documents the state’s economic progress. The November 2012 report highlights projects and related announcements from businesses both large and small that will assist with the creation of new jobs and the preservation of existing jobs.

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Morgantown ranks among the top 10 retirement cities.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin this month released the West Virginia Edge Business Report. The report documents the state’s economic progress. The November 2012 report highlights projects and related announcements from businesses both large and small that will assist with the creation of new jobs and the preservation of existing jobs.

Construction of “The Summit” produces more than $50 million economic impact
The construction of the Boy Scouts of America’s Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County has produced an economic impact of more than $50 million in wages and materials alone. To date, $16 million in materials have been purchased in West Virginia—$9 million of which have been purchased from vendors in Fayette, Raleigh and Nicholas counties. During the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, 40,000 Scouts and Scouters will travel to West Virginia to attend or staff the week-long event. The Jamboree is scheduled for July 15-24, 2013. (For details, see attached sidebar.)

The I-79 Development Council Annual Meeting will host a keynote presentation on The Summit Bechtel Reserve on Thursday, Dec. 6. The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont. The speaker will be Gary Hartley, Community & Government Relations of the Boy Scouts of America. Admission is free.

Walker Machinery expands underground mine equipment business
Kanawha County-based mine equipment dealer Walker Machinery is expanding into the underground mining business. For years, Walker has been a Caterpillar dealer for surface mining equipment. Now Walker and Louisville-based Whayne Supply formed Whayne-Walker Underground Mining and purchased Caterpillar’s Bucyrus underground mining equipment distribution and support business for their territories. Whayne Supply and Walker Machinery are authorized Cat dealers in Kentucky, southern Indiana, southeastern Ohio and portions of West Virginia. The new business will hire 38 former workers from Caterpillar's Bucyrus equipment division. Walker is headquartered in Belle, W.Va. Whayne is based in Louisville, Ky.

Fairmont tech firm GST wins $9.6 million weather service contract
Global Science & Technology (GST) has been awarded a task order to expand the National Mesonet Program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service. The task order has a maximum value of $9.6 million over a one-year period. The Scientific and Technical Support Services Next Generation Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (Sci Tech NG IDIQ) is NOAA’s largest scientific and technical support services contract designed to be used throughout the agency. The National Mesonet Program is a network of non-federal observation networks on the ground. The new task order allows GST and its alliance of universities and weather companies to continue their work on the program and to focus on emerging technologies that detect atmospheric conditions. (For details, see attached sidebar.)

Conley Fabrication announces $1.5 million expansion in Wood County
Just two years after starting up, truck bed fabricator Conley Fabrication is expanding. The company announced plans to build a new 45,000-foot facility outside of Mineral Wells near Interstate 77. The new building and contents represent a $1.5 million investment. After truck bed manufacturer Benson International closed, Conley Fabrication was founded by former employees. Conley currently occupies 15,000 square feet in the former Benson’s facility and employs 10 people. When the new shop becomes operational in an estimated 18 months, the company expects to double its workforce. The remaining 15 acres are available for sale, ideally for industrial park development. The project is supported by the West Virginia Development Office, the Wood County Economic Development Authority and the West Virginia Division of Highways.

Updated report “Tomorrow’s Jobs” through 2020 available online
The best career opportunities in West Virginia through 2020 are identified in an updated report from the West Virginia Development Office (WVDO) Research Unit. The study finds that more than 80 percent of new jobs will require more than a high school education. The most common requirements will be a bachelor’s degree, associate degree or vocational degree. Click here to view the report and lists of the fastest-growing occupations.

INNOVA invests in PolyPlexx polymer company in Kanawha County
INNOVA Commercialization Group has invested $253,500 in PolyPlexx, a specialty polymer manufacturer serving the safety/security, lens, construction and window industries by providing high-impact resistant polyurethanes. PolyPlexx has patented a series of clear, impact-resistant polymers marketed under the tradename ViziPlexx™. Applications for ViziPlexx polymers include optical lenses, ballistic laminates and safety and security products. PolyPlexx also offers consulting services for the design and fabrication of polymer laminates. PolyPlexx spun off from the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC) in 2005 to commercialize its high-performance polyurethane technology. The polymer company operates from the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston. INNOVA, an initiative of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, specializes in providing knowledge, resources and investment capital to seed and early-stage companies in support of product commercialization efforts.

Marion County tech firm creates new social media messaging app
The West Virginia company MarcoPoloLoco has developed a new location-based messaging app by the same name. The new social media tool MarcoPoloLoco lets the user send a message (a Marco) to anyone currently at a specific location. Anyone at that location will receive the message and can choose whether or not to reply (a Polo). The social media tool also lets the user send a message to anyone at that location in the future or who has been to the location in the past. While the app uses location to deliver messages, the location is not disclosed to other users, protecting user privacy.

West Virginia recognized for Work Readiness Certificates in Activity publication
West Virginia is one of two states recognized for equipping workers with National Career Readiness Certificates. The Autumn 2012 quarterly Activity, a publication of ACT, spotlighted West Virginia and Wyoming for using the ACT WorkKeys and National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRC). The certificates help job seekers validate their workplace skills and help companies find qualified employees to fill positions. Since 2008, West Virginia has issued more than 40,000 career readiness certificates.

West Virginia earns A- in study of state government technology use
The 2012 Digital States Survey West Virginia is one of only six states to receive top marks for technology use in state government. The 2012 Digital States Survey awarded an “A-" to West Virginia. Grades were given based on quantifiable results in better serving citizens and streamlining operations. The Digital States Survey reviewed each state’s technology strategy, return on investment, demonstrated progress, innovation and creativity, and collaboration.

WVDO promotes state businesses in trade shows in U.S. and Asia
The West Virginia Development Office and the state’s Japan office exhibited in the Mechanical Components and Materials Technology (M-Tech) Expo in October, 2012 show in Osaka, Japan. WVDO promoted West Virginia as a location for small- and medium-sized businesses in the metalworking industry. M-Tech is Western Japan’s largest manufacturing technology trade show. While in Japan, WVDO officials met with new business prospects and companies with existing operations in West Virginia.
Other exhibitions coming up this year include:

  •     FABTECH 2012, Nov. 12-14, Las Vegas, North America's largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event
  •     Unconventional Gas (DUG) East Conference and Exhibition in David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Nov. 15 – 17, Pittsburgh

Regional energy alliance spotlights Marshall County gas development
The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) Mid-Atlantic has featured Marshall County in part three of its online series illustrating the positive impacts of shale has development in various communities. The CEA Mid-Atlantic news release cites Marshall County’s location amid the Marcellus and Utica Shale fields, the completion of 36 Marcellus wells and the expectation of 143 more in the future. The activity has produced increased property values, higher pay wages and more jobs in Marshall County, the organization states.

Morgantown ranks among top 10 retirement cities
AARP ranks Morgantown among the 10 best places to live on $100 a day. The nonprofit organization’s study “sought out towns and cities that offered not only bargain prices, but also a rich quality of life.” Factors included housing costs and “things that make life worth living: the arts and culture, colleges, restaurants, community.” Morgantown was joined on the list by Pittsburgh; Roanoke, Va.; Eau Claire, Wis.; Gainesville, Fla.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Las Cruces, N.M.; Omaha, Neb.; San Antonio, Texas; and Spokane, Wash.

Study shows Tourism adds more than $4 billion to state’s economy
Travel spending by all overnight and day visitors in West Virginia was over $4.27 billion in the 2010 calendar year, according to Dean Runyan Associates. Visitor spending in West Virginia directly supported about 44,400 jobs with earnings of $988 million. Local and state government revenues generated by travel spending were $582 million in 2010 (excluding property taxes). Dean Runyan is a nationally recognized firm specializing in research and planning services for the travel and tourism industry.
According to Smith Travel Research, West Virginia outpaced the national average in hotel/motel occupancy in 2011. Average occupancy in the U.S. during this period was 60.1 percent while West Virginia occupancy was 64.3 percent. This indicates continued growth in West Virginia’s tourism industry.
The West Virginia Tourism 10 Year Strategic Plan was formally released this October. The report, which provides ideas on how to expand tourism in West Virginia, is available online.

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