Wood County economic development director touts successes

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Lindsey Kerr Piersol, director of Wood County Economic Development, was the keynote speaker Wednesday night at the annual membership meeting of the Wood County Development Authority and the Parkersburg-Wood County Area Development Corp. at the Parkersburg Country Club.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Lindsey Kerr Piersol, director of Wood County Economic Development, was the keynote speaker Wednesday night at the annual membership meeting of the Wood County Development Authority and the Parkersburg-Wood County Area Development Corp. at the Parkersburg Country Club.

VIENNA — What has happened in local economic development and what is on the horizon was the keynote speech given Wednesday during the annual membership meeting of the Wood County Development Authority and the Parkersburg-Wood County Area Development Corp. at the Parkersburg Country Club.

Lindsey Kerr Piersol, director of Wood County Economic Development, said while there is much to do and she realizes it is important to be aware leaders of the past who “laid a solid foundation for the successes we experience today.”

When Piersol took over as the director of Wood County Economic Development, she had almost no tools to do her job.

“There was no property data base, no customer relationship management system to keep track of employers, no contact or list of leads or current projects,” she said.

Piersol said the keynote speaker from last year told members economic development takes time.

“Last year my former boss, Sean Hughes, told you many things about economic development, however his key take away was that economic development is a long, slow trudge,” she said. “A year and a half ago I started the long, slow trudge by beginning to rebuild our organization. That lead me here today.”

Piersol said wanted to use the joint meeting to share what has been done, what she hopes to do in the future and share the players involved. Piersol said she works with many state and local government and non-government entities, in West Virginia and Ohio.

Today, Piersol said she has met face-to-face with161 businesses to help identify potential problems potential employers may have about the area and fix them.

Recently she said the biggest news has been the expansion of Hino Motors with the purchase of the former Coldwater Creek building in Mineral Wells.

“This expansion will retain 300 jobs and add 250 jobs to our community,” she said. “That is something I think is invaluable. The Hino expansion is an example of that long, slow trudge and it is also an example of how we can help other organizations.”

Piersol said the data base has seen exceptional usage and a conversation starter between her office and potential employers. It also allows local realtors and land owners to show properties on a free website that can be searched by what the need is for the business.

“We have been working with the Shell Crescent USA Initiative,” she said. “It is an initiative to recruit high-intensive gas manufacturers to the Mid-Ohio Valley. We have access to the largest gas reserves and lowest rates in the developed world. This is unique in that is non-governmental, a two-state project that has many passionate volunteers.”

Piersol said they are continue to recruit manufacturers to locate or relocate to the area. She said they also sponsored an import-export seminar to help local businesses.

Recently there have been meeting with the new owners of the former federal building and she said “they hope to give this building a meaningful purpose in downtown Parkersburg — they don’t plan to level it for a parking lot.”

Piersol said she looks forward to sharing their development plans.

Another downtown landmark, the Dils Building, is under contract, she said.

“Their closing on the property is expected by the end of October,” she said. “The prospective buyer is looking to put loft apartments on the upper floors, a restaurant in the back and mixed use on the lower floors, including retail and office space.

“We are excited for the potential of this building.”

Piersol said she has found the valley is the best to place to live and professionally grow.

“I could have lived in Columbus forever,” she said. “Simply coming home to visit family, but I saw more here. I saw the ability to live near my family, to have my money go further due to a low cost of living and have a job where I can make an impact,” she said.

Piersol said they need the community to become more involved in the corporation and what is has to offer existing businesses.

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