WEIRTON - Two members of the board of directors of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle were recognized at the organization's June meeting, one for work that has been done and the other for work that is just getting under way.
Ed Bowman, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's representative to the Northern Panhandle and BDC board member, received a commemorative sledgehammer from the demolition ceremony of the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery. Bowman, a former state senator, was given the hammer for his efforts in keeping the governor involved in the TS&T project.
That involvement included a $200,000 loan to move the project forward and technical assistance from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority and Department of Environmental Protection.
"Sen. Bowman has been instrumental in communicating to Gov. Tomblin the challenges the community has faced in dealing with the former TS&T Pottery factory," said Bill D'Alesio, chairman of the BDC board of directors. "This project has been a team effort and we would not be two months away from having a cleared site if the governor was not on our team."
Bowman also made a presentation to Pat Ford, the BDC's executive director, who has been appointed by Tomblin to serve on the West Virginia Public Port Authority board through June 30, 2014. Ford will attend the port authority's monthly meetings, where work is done to develop the potential of intermodalism by combining highway, rail, and water transportation infrastructure to maximize overall economic advantages to business, industry and the citizens of West Virginia.
"This appointment by Gov. Tomblin has to be one of the proudest moments of my professional career," Ford said. "Our efforts to retain and recruit industry in the Northern Panhandle have centered on our ability to market our transportation-related assets to industries. To have a seat on the state's port authority board will be essential in developing, and marketing, our assets further, as well as bring the necessary resources to further our efforts to grow our transportation infrastructure and, ultimately, jobs in the Northern Panhandle."
In other business, the BDC board:
Discussed the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Rue21. The 180,000-square-foot expansion adds 75 full-time jobs and seven part-time jobs to the Weirton location.
Announced a $200,000 grant award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the remediation of the riverbank at TS&T.
This award brings the total funding package for the project to $1,054,306, of which $500,000 came from Hancock County Commissioners, $200,000 from the governor and the balance from the EPA, Brooke-Hancock Planning and Development Council, Benedum Foundation and West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center.
Planned a July trip to Philadelphia to meet with U.S. Economic Development Administration officials and for a check presentation from the EPA.
Heard updates on the demolition of the TS&T site in Chester; the joint effort between Weirton and the BDC to assist industries in the Half Moon Industrial Park; the success of American Muscle Docks in Wellsburg following its purchase of Follansbee Dock Systems; and improvements to the BDC website.