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Development officials discuss economic growth in Wood County

Lindsey Piersol, Executive Director of Wood County Economic Development, discussed the developmental changes in the area Wednesday at the Annual Membership Meeting of the Wood County Development Authority and the Parkersburg-Wood County Area Development Corporation at the Parkersburg Country Club. (Photo by James Dobbs)

VIENNA — The Annual Membership Meeting of the Wood County Development Authority and Parkersburg-Wood County Area Development Corporation discussed the improvement of the area despite COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Business and community leaders assembled at the Parkersburg Country Club to hear about the developmental growth happening across Wood County.

“Overall, it’s been a good year, despite 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 discussing how the organization has improved, even through the pandemic.

“But even during a pandemic, really great things are happening in Wood County, so I want to stress that,” said Piersol.

Mitch B. Carmichael, Secretary of Economic Development in West Virginia, was the keynote speaker at the Annual Membership Meeting of the Wood County Development Authority and the Parkersburg-Wood County Area Development Corporation on Wednesday at the Parkersburg Country Club. (Photo by James Dobbs)

She said she sees construction on new developments, restaurants, and new housing wherever she goes. Piersol explained that she toured the townhomes that are a part of the Harbor Point Development and said that it is “absolutely beautiful,” and that “tremendous progress” has been made on the development.

Commercial development along West Virginia 14 is bringing several new businesses to Williamstown, Piersol said. These businesses 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 Vienna Mayor Randall Rapp should be applauded for all of the developmental work in Vienna.

“There have been so many new businesses that Kate and I could not count them all when we were trying to do this report,” she explained.

Over the past year, the Grand Central Mall has held ribbon cuttings for TJ Maxx, Ross, HomeGoods and PetSmart.

“Vienna has also opened or is in the process of constructing a Jersey Mike’s, a Qdoba, a Mardel, a Wings Etc., a Chipotle and a Longhorn Steakhouse,” she said. “The stores and restaurants that had planted their roots in Vienna this year are enhancing quality of life offerings and keeping people’s disposable income local, rather than these ones being expanded elsewhere.”

In Parkersburg and Wood County, Goodwill Industries is constructing a new state-of-the-art facility in south Parkersburg, which is expected to open in November.

Wincore Windows invested over $1 million, moving its door plant out of the Staunton Turnpike location to Pettyville Road, which added 70 additional jobs to Wood County, she said.

Mister Bee Potato Chips added a new 10,000 square foot warehouse to its operation, along with a new fryer, which cost $2.5 million.

JAG Mobile Solutions opened a location in Mineral Wells and hired 66 employees.

“Overall, Wood County saw in 2021, 23 new businesses that our office had some hand in, our office conducted 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 this past year, and she is “delighted with the growth and construction that has occurred.”

She went on to explain that the company is working to develop a site analysis to clean up and repurpose sites into new mixed use and multipurpose sites with light industrial, housing, retail, and restaurants, among other businesses.

“This is the key to growth in Wood County, is to make sure that we have sites and buildings for well paying jobs,” she stated.

Piersol said the company is also working on residential development in the area and is in the process of doing a downtown housing study.

The keynote speaker, Mitch Carmichael, is the Secretary of Economic Development in West Virginia. Carmichael spoke on the growth of West Virginia, and broadband availability. He believes that West Virginia is structurally ready for enormous growth moving forward.

He said that there are about 55 percent of people in West Virginia who are healthy enough to work, but don’t. In order to incentivize these people to work, there will be a No Cost community/technical school program to help those people get job training and education.

“In West Virginia, we have a crisis, as it relates to internet availability,” he said.

Carmichael went on to explain that West Virginia has the lowest connected rate in America. He said that his goal is to fix that issue with the government stimulus program funds.

James Dobbs can be reached at jdobbs@newsandsentinel.com.

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