HOLDEN, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore-Capito, (R -W.Va.), hosted a round table discussion Tuesday, with officials and business owners in Mingo County, at the Wood Products Industrial Park.
At the meeting, Capito and local business leaders discussed economic development and improving broadband access in the region.
The purpose of Capito’s visit was to listen to area business leaders issues and concerns on continuing to develop and grow in the southern West Virginia coalfields.
“I came to listen,” Capito said.
Shannon Wright, President and CEO at Wright Concrete & Construction, Inc., discussed issues his company has at his 22 Mine Road location due to transportation and broadband issues. “We are having major issues dealing with transportation in this region,” Wright said.
Wright said that anywhere from 30 to 40 trucks a day come across 22 Mine Road to travel to his Logan facility. “Materials come from all over the world, and we need better roads,” Wright said.
He continued his discussion by addressing the issues he has had with telephone and internet service in his location. “You cannot have an industrial park without communications,” Wright said.
“The phone and internet services in this area are unacceptable,” Wright continued.
Wright also mentioned the cost associated with internet services, stating that in the six years he has been in operation at the 22 Mine Road facility, he has spent $63,000 dollars on communication costs.
Wright said that Kentucky offers cheaper internet services that are much more reliable. “If the situation does not improve, I am going to have to relocate to Ashland, Ky,” Wright said.
Capito addressed the importance of broadband access in the region. “Here in Mingo County and throughout southern W.Va. there is a lack of broadband access. If we went to redevelop W.Va. we cannot do it without broadband internet,” Capito stressed.
Leasha Johnson, Executive Director for The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority was in attendance to discuss economic development in Mingo County.
“These mining redevelopment areas are what position us to develop and grow and these are the obstacles we face. We are well positioned to recover. It is these types of issues that are stumbling blocks,” Johnson said.
County Commissioner, Greg “Hootie” Smith agreed with Johnson saying, “We need success stories.”
After listening to local business leaders Capito ended the meeting saying, “These are all solvable problems. You have given me a lot of things specifically to work on. I want to be your partner and help you.”
At the round table discussion, Capito mentioned the “Capito Connect Plan.” This plan was in connection to the recently completed, “Listening Tour.” which urged West Virginians to share ideas for improving broadband connection in the state.
According to the Connect Plan, it is a “roadmap for bringing affordable, high-speed internet access to every home, business and classroom in West Virginia.”
To learn more about the Capito Connect Plan, visit http://www.capito.senate.gov.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242,ext.2279.)