WVU, Monongalia County, to welcome legislators to interim meetings

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – State legislators haven’t held their interim meetings on the street in more than a decade. If that happens in Morgantown on Sunday, WVU and Monongalia County officials plan to do their best together.

Rob Alsop

“We are excited and grateful,” said Rob Alsop, WVU’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, of the three-day meetings that WVU will host. “We think we have a lot to present with Morgantown, Mon County and WVU, a lot of planning and I think we’re ready to start with a few successful days in between.”

Alsop said WVU wants to show members of the House and Senate that WVU is “an incredibly important part of our state.”

Areas to be showcased will include how WVU is playing a role in diversifying the state’s economy and helping improve healthcare delivery. There will also be a tour of the new Reynolds Hall under construction on the downtown campus.

“We’re really going to be focused on a new way of learning (at Reynolds Hall) for business and finance leaders across our state, and with the commissioning of the new Children’s Hospital, we believe we have a lot to show our friends and fellow legislators.” said Alsop.

Alsop said WVU hopes to highlight how any government dollars coming to the university will be used.

“We have a really good story to tell about how Mon County is helping to run our state from an economic standpoint,” Alsop said.

Excursion in Monongalia County

Speaking on WAJR’s Talk of the Town Friday, Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom said county leaders will take some lawmakers on a field trip Monday.

The Mylan Park Aquatic Center & Track Complex

“Monday afternoon we bus them to the new Harmony Grove intersection and we explain that to them, then we go to the new Mountaintop Bottling Company and finish with the Mylan Park Aquatic Center & Track Complex.”

After the tour of the Swimming and Track Complex, lawmakers will have a roast pork dinner prepared by Monongalia County Delegate Joe Statler with a choice of desserts. The desserts are prepared by the new Mylan Park Community Food Innovation Center’s nonprofit Healthy Kids program.

As lawmakers choose from the variety of desserts, they will delve into various exhibits highlighting Monongalia County’s economic development.

“We will have Mountaintop, Mon County Airport Commerce Park, the city’s runway expansion program, Richwood Hills Development, Mountaineer Country Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, WestRidge, Morgantown Industrial Park, all things unique to Monongalia County,” said Bloom.

Local leaders want to show how a company like Mountaintop Bottling not only creates jobs and generates tax revenue, but also attracts partner industries to the region. For example, Mountaintop will reportedly have a large need for wooden pallets, a need that could attract another tenant to the Morgantown Industrial Park that would create more jobs and tax revenue.

Tom Bloom

“We’ll be able to show them how this will affect other areas of the state and how we plan to work together,” Bloom said. “The key is that we want to show them what we’ve done with our money, their money — actually people’s money.”

The last time interims took to the streets was in Bridgeport in 2014 – eight years ago. Before that in Wheeling in 2013, but lawmakers have no firm plan to hold the meetings on the street in the future.

“We’ve never had this opportunity,” Bloom said. “I think this is a unique opportunity to promote Mon County.”

Over the past year, Mountaintop Bottling and Owens & Minor announced expansion plans, and start-up battery maker Sparkz hasn’t ruled out Monongalia County for its planned manufacturing or separate research and development facility. These announcements total approximately 500 new jobs in the Morgantown area.

“This is not a Democratic or Republican area, this is an area in Monongalia County, West Virginia that wants to work with the state, and here’s what we have to offer,” Bloom said. “Let’s work together so we can get more jobs and give more people a better quality of life.”

The meetings are hosted by WVU and held at the Erickson Alumni Center and WVU College of Law.

A link to the meeting schedule can be found here.

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