Planned Burg To Be Site Of Conferences

The Dominion Post, Morgantown, West Virginia

By Evelyn Ryan

BRIDGEPORT, (Thursday, October 26, 2000)

A major planned community on 2,000 acres sandwiched between Bridgeport, Interstate 79 and W. Va. 131 will be home to a $9 million conference center belonging to the Harrison County city.

That’s just a drop in the bucket. Genesis Partners of Bridgeport, key partner in the development, said the project known as Charles Pointe, is expected to have $750 million invested by the time it’s completed.

"Bridgeport’s 10,000-square-foot conference center and a hotel on the level of a Hilton or Marriott to be built and operated by The Humphrey Companies of Columbia, Md., are scheduled to be the first projects built at the site. Construction is to begin next year near the FBI Interchange.

Plans for Charles Pointe were announced Wednesday at the site. So far, more than

$2 million has been invested in the project. When finished, it is expected to be home to thousands of jobs and hundreds of families.

WVU is working with Genesis Partners, Bridgeport, and The Humphrey Companies on the master plan. State and local developers will be involved as the plan is built.

WVU President David Hardesty said the university’s participation is the same as it would give any community in West Virginia. The differences is, this time WVU has been involved from the beginning.

"It’s not like we’re financial partners or we’re at risk," Hardesty stressed. "What we said is, ‘Yes, we will serve that community in the same way that we serve the communities in existence now’. We will be in it from the get-go, will sit down with prospects and talk about how we can be involved."

The master plan calls for a commercial-retail area near the entrance, an education research complex, emerging technology area, corporate research and development park, amphitheater, entertainment center, golf course, luxury resort hotel, equestrian area, extensive recreational trails, and 250 technology "smart" homes.

James A. and Jennifer Compton-Corton, doing business as Genesis Partners, have been working on the project for seven years, Hardesty said. WVU’s been working with them for two.

If you see what we’ve been doing at NASA, how we work with Mylan, with the FBI on forensics and biometrics, that would be examples of how we would work with people that go into that park," Hardesty said.

"What excites me is this is maybe the last piece in the puzzle in the development of a true region here open for business in the high-tech arena."

"At one end, we have the area around Lakeview, the suburbs around WVU, Mylan, all that around Morgantown; at the other end we have the FBI Center and this new development in- between we have the High Technology Foundation. I think we have a quality package for anyone who wants to come to this area."

Dot-com firms, young bio-tech and high tech companies, have more flexibility than traditional firms as to where they locate, he said.

"They’re looking for quality of life," Hardesty added.

"You have to have a critical mass of high-tech workers and you have to have a university to turn out more. As I told the owners, if they have world-class jobs at world-class salaries, we can supply all of the graduates they need."

He sees WVU’s role as providing information, ideas and connections.

WVU’s already hosted three venture capital companies that want to know more about this region and how they can participate in what’s happening, he said.

Bridgeport will be instrumental in helping Charles Pointe with its infrastructure, the developers said.

Once all 2,000 acres are developed, James Corton said, it is expected Charles Pointe will become part of Bridgeport.

He projected that in the next seven to 10 years, "Genesis Partners will coordinate an estimated $750 million investment to create a ‘new economy’ model for our state, a place where technology and commerce come together in an environment that holds sacred the beauty and history that is ours."

Bridgeport Mayor L. J. Timms said Charles Pointe provides an opportunity for the city, which shares a border with Clarksburg, to grow in physical size, in quality office and in new jobs.

Charles Pointe is named for Jennifer Compton-Corton’s father, C. E. "Jim" Compton, in honor of his contributions to the state. "For most of the last century, he has been engaged in nearly every part of our state’s life," she said, ranging from inventing the coal auger to establishing the WVU School of Nutrition.