Gov. Joe Manchin presented the Mineral County Development Authority with approval for a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission Investment Program. The Mineral County Broadband Project will create a master plan for the installation and operation of a broadband communication infrastructure for Mineral County.

The plan will address the current and future needs of residents and businesses in the county, increasing economic development and improving the quality of life for the county and region.

“These projects represent a comprehensive approach that will address many of our economic and community development needs. We are pleased to have such a strong commitment from ARC and our local partners to ensure that we continue to grow our economy and provide a brighter future for West Virginia,” Manchin said.

The $25,000 grant award caps off a successful year for the MCDA. “In light of the economic conditions, we’re proud that the MCDA was able to finalize negotiations with two new businesses in the Fort Ashby Industrial Park as well as to accomplish a great deal outside of that project”, said Amy White, president of the MCDA.

“Our mission and goals have been more specifically defined for the authority since the completion of our strategic plan, and we feel certain that sticking to that plan will take the county in the right direction.” The authority completed the strategic plan in the summer of 2007 and has reorganized their committee structure to more appropriately address their goals.

The ARC grant award is evidence of that restructuring. Lead by Connie Sutton, the Communication Infrastructure Committee applied for the ARC grant in response to one of the action items in the board’s plan. “Connie and her committee worked tirelessly on the CIC project and this grant is quite an accomplishment for them”, said County Commissioner Janice LaRue.

The commission encouraged the CIC to apply for the grant with a commitment of additional funds to facilitate the project. It is the goal of the MCDA through the CIC to make reasonably affordable broadband a reality in Mineral County to position the county for new business as well as encourage the growth of current business. “Broadband infrastructure cannot be ignored as we move forward toward economic growth in Mineral County. It simply has to be a part of the overall plan,” said LaRue.

“I’m proud of the direction the MCDA is taking,” says White, nearing the end of her presidency. “The MCDA has really been in a rebuilding process. It began under Casey Lambert who had the foresight to initiate the strategic planning process while he was president and has continued over the last 18 months.

“We’ve taken a bit of a beating on occasion in large part because our successes have been understated. We’re working to change that. We have had great cooperation between the board and the county commission; I really can’t say enough about the support and collaboration that exists between the board and our commissioners. While we don’t always agree on every issue, the commission has been steadfast in their support and absolutely devoted to improving the county’s economic base in any way possible.”

The development authority meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. in the Grand Central Conference Room and are always open to the public.

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