Economic development efforts in Marion County ramp up

FARIMONT, W.Va. – The Marion Regional Development Corporation is now the recognized economic advancement organization for the county.

MRDC Executive Director Allen Staggers said the city of Fairmont and the Marion County officially voted to work with and fund the organization last year.

Allen Staggers

The initial operating budget for the organization is $92,270, which includes $35,000 each from the county commission and the city of Fairmont and a $22,270 from West Virginia Local Economic Development Grant, used to make Marion County a certified business location.

“It started out lending money to businesses and they developed the first industrial park in Fairmont,” Staggers said. “Through the years FICC and MRDC have developed the Technology Park in Fairmont and several other parks.”

One of the first priorities was to establish a presence on the internet. A top priority for that webpage was an inventory of available buildings, land or developable land  in Marion County

Currently sites that are ready for commerce or manufacturing are in very high demand, Staggers said.

“People that are looking for sites and or buildings customarily are looking for databases or websites with data bases with information about available sites and buildings. So that was very important for us.”

One priority for the MRDC is development of the 70-acre Sharon Steel site. The site had been a coke works and steel plant for many years, but now the site remediated and is prepared to market to organizations looking to expand. Staggers is working with the city of Fairmont to be named the developer of that site.

Staggers said there many companies in the area that manufacture and design automotive parts and electronics. He’s hopeful that site could be transformed into an automotive research campus.

“A series of ovals, curves and intersections where autonomous vehicles can be tested or companies that are working on alternative fuels or battery technology or development,” Staggers said. “It can be a contained test track for them.”

The organization is also focused on helping retain existing businesses and help them grow or find new markets. Additionally, the MRDC is also a resource for companies that may need technical assistance or market information.

“Companies might be working on a project and need some technical assistance- we don’t have all the answers, but we know where other resources are located,” Staggers said.

One of the first efforts was helping the Fairmont Hills RV Park extend water, sewer, WiFi and electricity. The park at 930 East Grafton Road markets its proximity to Middletown Commons, shopping and a major RV dealership that can help with maintenance needs.

“They just had their groundbreaking last week and from what I hear they’re expecting a lot of traffic and they have many reservations,” Staggers said. “Clearly it’s a need for this area and I think they’ll do pretty well.”

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