By CHARLES BOOTHE Bluefield Daily Telegraph 22 May 2017
BLUEFIELD — Plans are on track to soon start renovation work on the commercialization station in Bluefield, and the city is busy working to recruit tenants.
“We met with the engineering folks (recently) and we are about 90 percent done on the plan (for the renovations),” said Jim Spencer, economic development director for the city. “We will submit the final plans to the EDA (federal Economic Development Administration) in June for approval.”
The EDA grant for the project is just over $2 million with $510,000 from the Shott Foundation.
Spencer said work will include electrical upgrades, new lighting, doors and windows, among other upgrades.
The station is located in the old freight station on Bluefield Avenue and the grants were announced in October 2016.
Once final plans for the renovation are approved, work can start, he said.
“We have to submit the plans to them (the EDA) and then (once approved) the work can go out to bid,” Spencer said.
The money for the project is ready to be used, he added, and the city is busy making plans for the station’s future.
“We continue to market the facility and we are talking to a couple of potential tenants,” he said. “We are also continuing to finalize our operational policies and procedures to operate the incubator.”
The city has already been offering classes for entrepreneurs as part of its CREATE (Creating Resilient Economies by Assisting Transforming Entrepreneurs) Opportunities Initiative and continues to do so, he said, with a class on copyright rights set for June 13.
Spencer said in October when the grants were announced that many partners are involved in helping not only bring the station to fruition, but to provide the resources necessary to make it work.
Those partners include the Center for Applied Research & Technology (CART), 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, the Robert C. Byrd Institute, E.L. Robinson Engineering and others.
“It’s all of us working together,” he said. “It’s a manufacturing and technology center,” with the overall purpose of moving ideas and innovations into the marketplace.
One start-up business, Autonomous Radio Controlled Equipment, is already operational inside of the center.
Spencer said when the renovations are finished, other businesses will hopefully be ready to move in.
By CHARLES BOOTHE Bluefield Daily Telegraph
May 22, 2017
CART: ingenuity to industry
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