ATV manufacturers’ visit to area could eventually mean boost to local economies
By Bruce Justice (Mingo Messenger) Aug 27, 2021
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s recently held meeting in Logan County with representatives from a few of the leading manufacturers of ATVs is being considered as a promising venture that down the road could pay off economically for the southern counties of West Virginia.
During last Thursday’s regular Mingo County Redevelopment Authority meeting, Executive Director Leasha Johnson presented the board of directors with the details of that gathering which took place early last week in Logan County.
More specifically, why this meeting could ultimately result in an additional shot in the arm for the sagging economy, especially for those counties that make up and are an integral part of the Hatfield McCoy Trail System.
Johnson said Manchin’s overall purpose for inviting representatives from three large ATV manufacturers — Kawasaki, Polaris, and Honda — was to attempt to validate West Virginia as an ideal location for the complete manufacture of the ATVs or at a minimum having components of these machines manufactured and/or assembled here.
“Really, where better to manufacture the product than where it’s being utilized,” Johnson said. “So it was a really fantastic meeting because the economic directors from three counties were able to participate, including myself.”
Aside from the MCRA, Johnson said the Logan and Boone County Redevelopment Authorities, as well as the West Virginia Economic Development Authority and the West Virginia Tourism Office, were among the agencies represented at the meeting.
“We started the meeting with some of the sales pitches about West Virginia, such as the tax advantages, the ability of state government to respond and assist, the beauty of the area, and the available workforce and the skill set they would have available to them,” she said.
Another attendee of the meeting was Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College President Pamela Alderman, who Johnson said was there to express the college’s willingness to adopt apprenticeship programs for fields like maintenance and repair, even manufacturing.
Following the more formal roundtable meeting, Johnson said, those attending the meeting joined Manchin and the ATV company representatives on a three-hour ride on the Rock House Trail in Logan and Mingo counties. Johnson said company officials were impressed with what they saw and experienced during the ride. “They were just taken so aback not just by the environment that attracts so many of these riders, but also by the fact that we have these development sites … the assets that we actually have here that would be really conducive to that kind of manufacturing,” she said. Johnson credited Manchin for bringing the companies to southern West Virginia and presenting both state and local agencies here with an opportunity to sell the area, which she said could pay major dividends toward the region’s combined goal of reaching economic diversification. “Even though those (company officials) who were here are not the decision makers, they will go back and report their findings to the decision makers,” she said. “The senator was very encouraged by their enthusiasm during the visit, but he has also pledged to us that he will continue these conversations with the CEOs of these companies and continue to encourage the potential investment of one or all of them here in southern West Virginia.” As part of her written presentation, Johnson said she highlighted those Mingo County sites that would be prime locations for one of these companies to consider for expansion. “Obviously, I included the Harless Industrial Park and the flooring plant properties as the most marketable, but I also included the Air Transportation Park,” she said “I was really pleased because what I prepared for our presentation was a lot of what the tourism and development offices were saying during their verbal presentations regarding what we have to offer in Mingo County in terms of location and site availability.”