BLUEFIELD — A remote controlled lawnmower put through its paces Tuesday demonstrated just one of the many manufacturing activities that could call the city of Bluefield home.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., visited the Center for Applied Research and Technology Inc. (CART) off Bluefield Avenue. Located in the former headquarters of the Bluefield Regional Transit Authority, the building provides space for manufacturing entrepreneurs.
“The center is called the Bluefield Commercialization Center,” Jim Spencer, community & economic development director for the city of Bluefield, said later. “The goal for the center is to move ideas and innovations into the marketplace. It is owned by the city and CART is one of our partners. Derek Dotson with Autonomous Radio Controlled Equipment did a demonstration of his radio controlled mower and even let Senator Capito drive the unit,” Spencer said. “We have two other bays that are earmarked as space for other startup tenants.”
During her visit, Capito tried the controls of the radio-controlled vehicle that its makers said could be used by wounded veterans, the elderly, and others for tasks such as mowing their lawns and snow removal.
“Wow, that’s amazing,” she said as she watched the television screen that let her see what was around the mower. “I’m getting a little dizzy doing this, but it feels great.”
The 60,000 square foot facility offers space for manufacturing businesses ranging from welding, wood industries, and more.
“I’m just impressed by how the community has come together to utilize an elderly resource,” she said of the facility, adding that many young people were leaving the state to search for work. “We’ve got to create more jobs. With the downturn in the coal industry, we need to become creative and be entrepreneurs,” she said.
Part of the funding the commercialization center is seeking is federal funds, Capito said, adding that her office could help the center with applications and learning what funds are available.
“It’s all about finding new jobs and regaining the jobs we have lost,” Capito said.
Autonomous Radio-Controlled Equipment is raising funds through Kickstarter to get the funding needed to build other units, Dotson said.