Industrial park gets name modification, attracting two new companies
By Bruce Justice 02/28/2020
The James H. Harless Wood Products Industrial Park received a name modification recently and going forward will be known simply as the James H. Harless Industrial Park.
And while discussions remain in the early stages, the park could also be getting one or possibly two new companies to locate there that officials say, together, could potentially bring as many as 600 new jobs to the region.
During her regular update on the park at last week’s Mingo County Redevelopment Authority meeting, Executive Director Leasha Johnson began by first explaining the reasoning behind the park’s name change.
Johnson said the slight alteration will greatly aid in marketing the park, particularly to prospective non-wood manufacturing companies expressing an interest in locating there.
“I’ve been told by more than one site consultant, and even the folks that did our feasibility study last year, that since we are now marketing the park for uses other than and in addition to value added wood manufacturing that we should probably just start referring to it as the James H. Harless Industrial Park,” she explained. “And I totally agree with that because two of the prospects that are looking at it now, neither of them is wood manufacturers.
“I think for marketing purposes it’s more suitable for us, it doesn’t cause any confusion at all, and just as important it doesn’t cause any exclusion at all.”
Johnson additionally pointed out that because of his significant contribution to the development of the park itself, she believed it was important that Harless’ name be preserved. That video, she noted, has been uploaded to the MCRA’s website.
“The purpose of the footage initially was because one of the prospects interested in the property wanted to see aerial photography, and we had some aerial photography,” she said. “But because the development office is the one responding to this potential client, they sent their GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) person up there to get the drone footage, which was also loaded to their website.” Johnson said the two large undeveloped tracks of property are attractive to potential companies due to both being near or already at construction readiness as well as conveniently located near the water and sewer hookup facilities.
Because the West Virginia EDA is under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the two prospective companies interested in the flooring manufacturing building, Johnson said she was not at liberty at the current time to release many details about these businesses. However, should one or both ultimately locate at the park, she pointed out that it would translate into a “huge” economic shot in the arm for the region. “One is willing to make about a $30 million investment and the other an investment of about $500 million, so it would be huge,” she said. “One would create approximately 200 jobs and the other approximately 400 jobs.” Johnson said one of the prospective tenants is a German company which will be sending representatives the week of March 6 to conduct a site investigation to determine whether the park suits all its criteria. A third company, she said, has also expressed interest in locating at the park and is currently conducting preliminary research with AEP to determine if the site has the necessary power supply that it would need for its operation. This company will also be conducting additional research to see if the site meets its other requirements, Johnson added.