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Economic Development Authority to move into new offices

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Water Development Authority's former condominium-style office space will soon house the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, as both agencies have outgrown their space.

EDA purchased the 8,600-square-foot building in the Northgate Business Park, 180 Association Drive, for $1.3 million, officials announced at the EDA's monthly board meeting Thursday.

David Warner, executive director of the EDA, said the state agency should be doing business in its new offices no later than April 1.

The Water Development Authority moved to a new $3.2 million, 14,000-square-foot building on the corner of Bullitt and Spring streets in September.

The WDA shares the space -- a 1.7-acre site that served for many years as a storage yard for Pfaff & Smith -- with its sister agency, the state Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council.

Employees have enjoyed working in the spacious, 17-room office building at 1009 Bullitt St., said B.J. Pauley, executive assistant for the Infrastructure Council.

Warner said one reason for the move is that WDA's old Northgate office has more room than the EDA's current 5,800 square feet of space.

The $1.3 million price tag also includes all the existing furniture and technology within the building, which was appraised at $30,000, Warner said.

"There is a little bit more room for us over there, but the main thing is the board room is larger, nicer and has better technology," Warner said. "We're in a setting right now where, when we bring clients in, we have to take a picture off the wall to use a projector so this will put us in a position to have a much more professional client meeting space."

Warner said the EDA plans to lease or sell the office it currently occupies.

EDA purchased its existing office space in 2002 for $792,000, Warner said.

In other business Thursday, board members approved a $1.5 million loan for American Woodmark, a kitchen cabinet and vanity manufacturer with a site in Moorefield.

The loan will help American Woodmark buy new equipment for its manufacturing lines so that it can increase operations at its Hardy County location, according to the EDA.

The EDA will borrow $1.5 million from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council to lend to American Woodmark.

If American Woodmark hits some benchmarks tied to employees and facility investments, it won't have to pay back the loan, Warner said.  

For instance, if the company employs another 187 people for at least three years, which would give the company a total of 505 workers, and also invests at least $15.2 million, it wouldn't have to pay it back. The investments would include $12.6 million in equipment and $2.6 million for building and parking improvements.

Also, the company will be exempt from the state's 6 percent sales tax for materials and equipment, as it qualifies for the state's Manufacturing Property Tax Credit.

The EDA will hold the title for up to $12.6 million worth of equipment that American Woodmark would use at the plant.

Also on Thursday, EDA board members gave final approval to Citynet for a $7 million loan to finance a multi-year project intended to bring faster broadband services to the state. The Internet service provider has already started to install fiber-optic networks in West Virginia. The Bridgeport-based company has already invested $20 million in its first phase of the statewide project.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.

 


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