New head of Putnam development authority named
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A new executive director of the Putnam County Development Authority was named Wednesday.
Andrew Dunlap, who previously worked for the Charleston Area Alliance, replaces former director Gary Walton, who stepped down in April to take a job as president and CEO of the Huntington Area Development Council.
With the CAA, Dunlap said he was responsible for recruiting and expanding businesses, including attracting foreign investments and helping local businesses explore markets in Europe and Asia.
Putnam County is home to eight Japanese companies. Most of Dunlap's experience has been with China.
"The companies here from Japan are a tremendous asset, and that's very near the top of my list of things to do -- get out there and begin building relationships with them," he said.
Putnam Commissioner Steve Andes, who serves on the development authority board, said about 25 applications were received during the month-long search to replace Walton.
The board expects Dunlap to "just continue where Gary left off by bringing new businesses into the county, not only industrial, but commercial -- any type of business we can get that will bring more jobs," Andes said.
Bringing infrastructure to properties in the county is also important, Andes said.
"The Putnam Business Park developed pretty quickly because there was infrastructure out there. We got a loan from the state to put infrastructure on the other side [of U.S. 35 in the park]. That will make it easier for businesses to make a decision whether they want to move there or not," Andes said.
The availability of flat land is something that attracted Dunlap to the position.
"An economic development authority has to have a product -- land -- like what we have at the Putnam Business Park. That's one of the issues I think just about everywhere in West Virginia has is the lack of land for projects -- land that's ready to develop that doesn't require a tremendous amount of earthmoving.
"It's a unique asset out here in Putnam County," he said.
Dunlap, 38, earned his master's degree in public administration from West Virginia University and lives in St. Albans. He eventually plans to move back to Putnam, where he lived for a short time after college. His parents reside in Scott Depot.
One of his main priorities during his first months on the job will be to form relationships with existing businesses in Putnam County.
"The backbone of the economy is businesses that are already here. That's my first priority -- making sure I have good relationships with them," he said.
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