Area Projects Receive Grant Funding From Committee

Clarksburg Exponent Telegram

by Shannon Blosser, REGIONAL WRITER

CHARLESTON (Tuesday, November 14, 2002)

Seven area projects, including Charles Pointe, received certification from the state Economic Development Grant Committee during a meeting Tuesday.

The seven projects join the West Virginia High Tech Consortium, which was already certified for $11.3 million, as the area projects receiving funding from the state economic grant. A total of 35 projects worth $215 million were officially certified by committee members during the meeting.

More projects may be certified during a later meeting, according to committee spokesperson Chris Morris. Committee members believe there may be more money available because of low interest rates once the bonds have been sold. Also grants to non-profit or government agencies will cost less in bonds, he said.

The grant uses $19 million in video lottery sales to pay for the bonds. Original estimates stated the bond sale would bring in $200 million to the grant.

"(Committee members) were using a conservative figure," said Morris.

Developers for Charles Pointe were granted $6 million of its $11.4 million request. Genesis Partners was seeking the funding to build infrastructure northeast of the Interstate 79 and W.Va. 279 intersection and construction of a city conference center.

The project had been supported publicly by former West Virginia University head football coach Don Nehlen.

The Barbour County Development Authority's project was certified for $650,000 for the Belington Industrial Park. The project had initially sought $700,000 from the grant committee.

Monongalia County received approval for three projects, including the WVU research park, which was approved for $5 million. A request for a public theater and marina in the Wharf District in Morgantown was granted $13.9 million, while the National Biometric Security Project received a $2 million grant.

Two other local projects were approved during the meeting. In Lewis County, a state fire academy at WVU Jackson's Mill was granted $2 million, while tourism improvements in Randolph County received $1.6 million.

Though 35 projects had been certified after Tuesday, 22 projects that are requesting more than $105 million are still in the hunt for funding if the bond total exceeds $215 million. Seven of those projects are based in North Central West Virginia and two are in Lewis County.

A $5.4 million request for additional funding for the Stonewall Resort and $540,000 for GlassWorks WV, LLC was put on hold until the bond sale. Also an additional $2.5 million in funding for the West Virginia High Tech Consortium is waiting on the bond sale as well.

Funding for projects in Fairmont, Morgantown and in the Tucker County area are also waiting for the bond sale.

Developers for the Thunder Ridge motorsports complex in Flatwoods are also waiting for that sale. The project, supported by John Skidmore and the Braxton County Development Authority, was bypassed, on Tuesday, by developers for a racetrack in Kanawha County.

The Kanawha County track received $7.7 million in funding, while the Braxton County track is asking for $13 million.

Though the projects are certified, no additional action can be taken until a ruling is given in a lawsuit by the West Virginia Citizens Action Group. The suit claims the grant is unconstitutional.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Charles King is expected to rule later this month.