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New projects keep WVEDA busy

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the West Virginia Economic Development Authority provided preliminary approval for three new projects at a monthly meeting Thursday, including a Jackson County distillery that hit a roadblock earlier this year.

EDA executive director David Warner said that, overall, loan application activity is up.

"I'm hoping, or expecting, based on applications that we're working on, that we'll have another three projects for next month, as well," Warner said. "I don't have a reason as to why it was slow and then all the sudden this month and next month may be real active."

Members approved a 10-year, $81,000 loan to Appalachian Mountain Distillery. The distillery will be located in Fairplain and plans to employee six people after the first year and 10 people after three years of operation.

"It's a relatively small loan for us but it's all going towards the purchase of equipment," Warner said. "That seems to be the new vogue thing in the beverage industry -- flavored moonshine and other flavored distilled products."

The company will manufacture legal-proof distilled moonshine whiskey and flavored moonshine. The distillery's Dwayne Freeman said, after the company is up and running, it will look to host guided tours.

The distiller attempted to settle in Ravenswood but local backlash forced its owners to rethink that location. Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle supported the project and the city's planning and zoning board approved it on a 4-1 vote.

In June, Ihle told the Gazette, "A few angry people essentially killed the plan. I am embarrassed, ashamed and disgusted. I have been saying what a good place this is to do business."

Greenbrier Valley Brewing Co. also is seeking a 10-year loan, this one for $465,000, to kick-start its business. Located in Maxwelton, the company would purchase brewing equipment with loan money.

The company would have three employees after one year and six employees after three years of operation.

"There are a few other microbreweries in West Virginia," Warner said. "The challenge for any business like that would be to establish a market for their product."

Warner also said that equipment costs associated with a brewery -- as opposed to a distillery -- are considerably higher.

EDA members also gave preliminary approval for three loans for Stockmeier Urethanes, in Clarksburg. The company manufactures polyurethane, which is used at construction sites and sporting facilities.

The polyurethane products manufactured can be applied to outdoor tracks, tennis courts and artificial-turf fields. The company has 31 employees. After one year, company officials would add two employees and, after three years, expect a total of 43 employees.

The initial 15-year, $500,000 loan would go toward purchasing the old Thrasher building in Clarksburg. The second, 10-year $270,000 loan would assist in the purchase of new manufacturing equipment. The third, 15-year $2.2 million loan would help finance building a new warehouse on site.

Finally Thursday, EDA members gave preliminary approval to provide loan insurance to West Union Bank in Harrisville. The Ritchie County bank is loaning Troy LLC, $680,000. The EDA would insure $499,000 of that amount.

Troy manufactures nonwoven textiles for various industries. The automobile industry is its biggest customer.

"The automotive industry is doing better than it was four or five years ago, so they're growing," Warner said. "This enables [Troy's leaders] to better structure their financing to ensure that they will have good long-term viability as a company."

The Jobs Investment Trust "had lent [Troy] money several years ago, and this is going to help pay them back," Warner said.

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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