VIENNA – The annual meeting of members of the Wood County Development Authority and the Parkersburg-Wood County Area Development Corporation discussed on Wednesday improving the area despite COVID-19.
Business and community leaders gathered at the Parkersburg Country Club to hear about the development growth happening in Wood County.
“Overall, it has been a good year, despite the COVID and the pandemic”, said Kate Marlow, Executive Development Specialist for Wood County Economic Development.
Lindsey Piersol, executive director of Wood County Economic Development, began by explaining how the organization has improved, even during the pandemic.
“But even during a pandemic, very good things are happening in Wood County, so I want to point that out,” said Piersol.
She said she sees new developments, restaurants and new housing being built everywhere she goes. Piersol explained that she visited the townhouses that are part of the Harbor Point development and said he is “absolutely stunning,” and that “enormous progress” was made on development.
Business development along West Virginia 14 is bringing several new businesses to Williamstown, Piersol said. These companies include WVU Medicine Camden Clark, a new branch of Mountain River Physical Therapy, Safe Harbor Mental Health, River Town Grill, and Rejuvenation Laser and Skin Care.
Piersol mentioned that the mayor of Vienna Randall Rapp should be applauded for all the development work in Vienna.
“There were so many new ventures that Kate and I couldn’t count them all when we were trying to make this report,” she explained.
Over the past year, the Grand Central Mall has hosted ribbon cuts for TJ Maxx, Ross, HomeGoods and PetSmart.
“Vienna has also opened or is building a Jersey Mike’s, a Qudoba, a Mardel, a Wings Etc., a Chipotle and a Longhorn Steakhouse” she said. “The shops and restaurants that have planted their roots in Vienna this year improve quality of life offerings and maintain disposable income for people locally, rather than having it extended elsewhere. “
In Parkersburg and Wood County, Goodwill Industries is building a new state-of-the-art facility in South Parkersburg, which is slated to open in November.
Wincore Windows has invested more than $ 1 million moving its door factory from the Staunton Turnpike location to Pettyville Road, which has created 70 more jobs in Wood County, she said.
Mister Bee Potato Chips added a new 10,000 square foot warehouse to his operation, along with a new fryer, which cost $ 2.5 million.
JAG Mobile Solutions opened a site in Mineral Wells and hired 66 employees.
“Overall, Wood County saw 23 new businesses in 2021 in which our office participated, our office made 72 business retention and expansion visits, both virtually and in person,” Piersol explained.
She said that what she has mentioned so far are just the highlights of the past year, and she is “Delighted with the growth and construction that has taken place”.
She went on to explain that the company was working to develop a site survey to clean up and reuse sites into new mixed-use and multipurpose sites with light industries, housing, retail and restaurants, among others.
“That’s the key to growth in Wood County, it’s making sure we have sites and buildings for good paying jobs,” she declared.
Piersol said the company is also working on residential development in the area and is doing a study on downtown housing.
The keynote speaker, Mitch Carmichael, is the Secretary of Economic Development for West Virginia. Carmichael spoke about the growth of West Virginia and the availability of broadband. He believes West Virginia is structurally ready for huge growth going forward.
He said there are about 55% of people in West Virginia who are healthy enough to work, but don’t. In order to get these people to work, there will be a no-cost community / technical school program to help these people get vocational training and education.
“In West Virginia we have a crisis, in terms of internet availability”, he said.
Carmichael went on to explain that West Virginia has the lowest connection rate in America. He said his goal is to solve this problem with the government’s stimulus program funds.
James Dobbs can be contacted at [email protected]