By Charlie Boothe Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 12 October 2017
BLUEFIELD — The future of Bluefield’s Commercialization Station received a boost Wednesday with the announcement of a $750,000 federal grant to help create jobs and programs at the facility.
The funding is from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and will go to the Center for Applied Research and Technology (CART) Inc., a Bluefield-based partner with the city on the station.
Located on Bluefield Avenue in the former freight building, the Commercialization Station provides an incubator for business start-ups focusing on manufacturing.
“This will be almost like phase two of the project,” said Jim Spencer, Bluefield’s economic development director who spearheaded the station. “CART will develop programs (for the station) that create jobs.”
Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), who worked to secure the funding, said CART will use the Bluefield Commercialization Station to help provide industrial technical services and help support a business incubator. This project will support local entrepreneurs and small businesses while creating much-needed jobs, he added.
According to the EDA, this grant will create 36 jobs, save another 36 jobs, and attract $250,000 in private investment.
“Diversifying our economy is critical, and this grant will help us support West Virginians starting small businesses and creating much-needed jobs,” Jenkins said. “West Virginians are ready and eager to work, and this project will help our entrepreneurs succeed. I congratulate the Center for Applied Research and Technology for receiving the grant and look forward to seeing these funds at work.”
The announcement of that and other EDA grants was made in Elkins.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) was on hand at the event.
“Improving our economy starts by revitalizing our communities and creating job opportunities for West Virginians. That’s because economic growth starts at the local level. For several years, I have urged EDA to renew its focus and invest in West Virginia,” said Capito. “Whether its manufacturing, entrepreneurship or tourism, vibrant local communities are vital to the strength of our state’s economy. These public-private partnerships will fuel growth, and make West Virginia the best place to live and work.”
Bruce Mutter, CEO of CART, also attended the event.
“CART was excited to learn that our project for assisting technology entrepreneurs in southern West Virginia was approved for funding by the EDA.”, he said. “The purpose of the project is to provide technical assistance and related support services to technology-based small businesses and entrepreneurs.”
Mutter said these companies will “develop their products, service ideas, and research interests into marketable new enterprises in our region, which of course has been negatively affected by changes in the coal economy.”
Jenkins visited the station last fall to announce a $2 million grant and a $510,000 matching grant from the Shott Foundation to renovate the building, which also served for years as the headquarters for the Bluefield Area Transit.
Spencer said all of the preliminary work, including final engineering work, has been completed and presented to the EDA for approval.
Work will include electrical upgrades, new lighting, doors and windows, among other improvements in the 60,000-sq.-ft. facility.
Spencer said other partners involved in the station include Bluefield State College, TechConnect West Virginia, Concord University, American National University, AEP, Mercer County Technical Education Center, the Development Authority of the Great Bluefield Area and the Robert C. Byrd Institute.
CART: ingenuity to industry
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