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Four W.Va. counties hope to develop ‘Mega-Site’

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Local leaders are looking for a large return on the region’s major assets — four-lane highways and the Raleigh County Memorial Airport — in the form of a 500-acre Mega-Site, which could attract a bumper crop of economic engines in technology, cognitive science, clean energy and manufacturing industries.

New River Gorge Regional Development Authority Executive Director Chad Wykle said Wednesday the Mega-Site proposal is part of diversifying the region’s economy, and noted that the region’s need to create a new economic atmosphere plays into large companies’ requirements for things southern West Virginia has to offer.

“We have a sense of urgency; we have to do something to diversify the economy,” Wykle said. “A Mega-Site or Sites will be the key to helping us do that.”

Companies ready to make the move don’t have time to spare, he said.

“When companies are ready, they don’t want to wait three years,” he said. “They don’t have time for that.”

Although the self-described optimist has high hopes for the project’s success, he is hesitant to cite job numbers or other specific economic projections for this area.

“This is really the beginning stages,” he said. “We want to do it right and we’ll involve a lot of partners.”

The essential element for right now is suitable property, which could be anywhere in the four-county region the NRGDA serves. And Wykle said more than one property could fit the requirements:

— minimum of 500 contiguous acres

— located in Raleigh, Fayette, Summers or Nicholas counties

— capable of direct ingress/egress from/to a four-lane highway

— reasonable, cost-effective proximity to public utilities…

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