After much deliberation, I have asked the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) to move forward on a property transfer agreement with The Dow Chemical Co. that will donate three buildings and land at the South Charleston Technology Park to the state. I would not commit state resources to a project that I did not fully believe would be very productive and beneficial for the citizens of West Virginia.
I thank all of the shareholders and experts for working tirelessly with state government and Dow to make this announcement a reality. Over the course of the last several months, experts in fields ranging from engineering to real estate and environmental protection have taken a close look at the benefits and potential drawbacks of owning this park. We presented that information to state and local officials and the media before making a decision. Some details remain to be worked out, but we believe we have made a right decision for the future of this park and the region.
The Tech Park has a long and unique history that brought some of the world’s foremost researchers to the Kanawha Valley. In the 50 some years since the park was created, countless amazing products were developed right here. I believe the park holds tremendous promise for us to see that type of innovation in the capital region again. I also believe the risk of losing hundreds of existing jobs and the opportunity to create even more was greater than the risk of accepting this historic donation. We have work to do to ensure the park meets our needs and is as efficient as possible, but I believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Our state is committed to revitalizing the South Charleston Technology Park and the new “West Virginia Education, Research and Technology Park” will help us focus on developing new technologies and continue to seek ways to further diversify our economy. This is about job preservation and job creation and giving existing tenants the assurance they need to attract new business. This park will allow us to better connect higher education and research investments with business and economic opportunities. It’s also about providing much-needed laboratories for the Department of Agriculture and other agencies such as the State Police, which have great need for expanded or improved research facilities.
We must think innovatively if we are going to compete with other states and globally in the future. We are already sending more young people to college than ever before and with initiatives like “Bucks for Brains” we are spending more than ever to encourage research and development, but we must turn these investments into high-tech jobs and unique job opportunities for our youngest and brightest.
This is the primary goal of the park - to create a business incubator. Bold decisions like this are the only way we will break from the mold and redesign our state’s future economy to ensure that our citizens have more career opportunities. I sincerely thank all who were involved in this process. It was a tough decision, we had to weigh every factor, but, in the end, it was the right decision and the entire state will benefit.
Jama Jarrett or Melvin Smith