CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia business leaders are afraid the federal government shutdown could have a major impact on their businesses and their employees.
James Estep, president of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation in Fairmont, a regional economic development organization that has promoted the development of the Technology Park and many research programs along Interstate 79.
"We are feeling the federal government shutdown in north-central West Virginia because we have several major government programs here, including the FBI, NASA, the Department of Defense, NOAH [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and energy labs.
"It is the same thing with the energy lab up in Morgantown. At what point do these agencies run out of money to keep their facilities open? Once a facility closes, the contractors and their employees can't go to work and can't get paid," Estep said.
The National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown is part of the U.S. Department of Energy.
The DOE website indicates the Morgantown facility has 13,814 employees, but only 1,124 might keep working if the government shutdown continues.
The DOE will be able to operate for a short time, but employee and contractor furloughs would begin if a congressional agreement is not reached in the near future.
Evan Hansen heads Downstream Strategies, an environmental consulting company with 11 employees and offices in Morgantown and Alderson.
"We work for a variety of people and have federal contracts," Hansen said Wednesday. "We received a suspension-of-work letter yesterday morning from the federal Department of the Interior.
"They said that 'no further financial obligations may be incurred. . . . You are hereby ordered to suspend all work on contracts immediately.'
Hansen said the shutdown has a real impact on a company like Downstream Strategies. A percentage of the company's work relies on government contracts.
"We are also not going to get paid for work we did in previous months. We invoice for our work periodically," Hansen said. "We will eventually get paid for that, but it presents a cash-flow problem."
Three of Hansen's 11 employees work under Interior Department contracts.
"Other companies have an even higher percentage of their workers getting paid by the federal government, especially along the I-79 Corridor.
"I am really mad about this. It is absurd to me that Congress is doing this simply to try to overturn Obamacare," Hansen said. "No matter what you think about Obamacare, using this to shut government down is crazy, out-of-control crazy."
John Dahlia is director of corporate communications for Global Science and Technology along the I-79 Corridor near Fairmont.
"The government shutdown has had an impact, not just on the company I work for, but on the whole region," he said. "The NASA Center, which is about 100 feet from my office, is closed.