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Officials launch tri-county economic development effort

by Tina Canon

STAFF WRITER

WESTON -- Commissioners from Lewis, Braxton and Gilmer counties launched a tri-county economic and industrial development effort this week.

Robert Conley, a Lewis County commissioner, said the cooperative effort had been discussed previously, but Monday's was the first of several meetings.

"The state Development Office in Charleston is proposing counties go together," Conley said. "That would help us get grants, so they contend."

Conley said the first project under discussion is the pursuit of the Little Kanawha Parkway development. The counties want a four-lane highway to extend from U.S. Route 33 through Lewis, Gilmer, Braxton, Roane and Calhoun counties to Interstate 77 in Wood County.

Another possible project would be a cooperative siting of a new industrial park. Lewis County's sole industrial park, in Jane Lew, has become more active in recent years and is nearing capacity.

"House Bill 2916 wants regions to cooperate with each other," said Doug Parson, Lewis County Economic Development Authority director. "We held the meetings to be more prepared if or when the bill goes through."

The West Virginia Council for Community and Economic Development has proposed the main facets of the bill.

They include:

n The sharing of tax revenue for multi-county projects.

n Giving priority to funding multi-county business/industrial parks.

n Multi-county development authorities will be eligible for more grant monies.

The bill is still pending in the West Virginia Legislature.

Staff writer Tina Canon can be reached at (304) 626-1404 or by e-mail at tcanon@exponent-telegram.com.

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