Wow, I am so used to beginning my letters with “Dear Virginia” that I almost don’t know how to start writing this today. So I will just jump in.
Many people have asked what I feel needs to be done to expand business in Doddridge County and make it grow. Everyone I talk to suggests attracting a Walmart, fast food restaurants, movie theater, and other entertainment venues. All of these ideas are good
However, until the population in Doddridge is large enough to financially support these types of businesses and until there are support services (people who are willing to work), the big businesses will not locate here.
We have some industry now, but their workers are living in other counties. They may stop at Snowbird and get fuel or a quick sandwich, but most of them spend their money in the communities where they live.
Many of you travel US 50 around 7:00 to 8:00AM and around 3:00 to 5:00PM. You witness the workforce for the oil and gas industry travel west into Doddridge County every morning and watch them travel east every afternoon.
Doddridge County has an Economic Development Authority (EDA), a Public Service District (PSD), and a Chamber of Commerce, but instead of having three Directors, each with ideas, there is one person holding the position of Director of all three. Hence, a lone voice with limited time.
There have been indications that Doddridge County needs infrastructure.
When we built the New DCHS, one of the reasons to locate it south of US 50 was to open-up that area with infrastructure, city water, sewer, three phase power, and internet. (All paid for with our tax dollars.)
The PSD has been directing the building of water lines in the County, but instead of constructing the line from the New DCHS location, they are bringing water from Snowbird Road and Rt. 18.
The County Commission has given tax dollars for internet expansion, and within a few weeks, a grant was given by the Federal Government for HREA to provide internet to their customers.
I have watched small business owners (including myself) prepare camper slips for workers who come into the County, most of which are empty as I write this, and then I see the County set-up camping slips with it’s own store, the Park as their playground, and wonder how is this supporting the local small business person.
I am not sure what the EDA is doing but the Chamber of Commerce is busy working on events to draw people to the County.
But the one thing I don’t see or hear about is anyone building housing to attract the commuting workers to live here, and in so doing, who would add to the population to spend their money, that would cause new businesses to come to the Town of West Union or into our County.
I think we need three categories of additional housing in the County: low income housing, addition senior citizen housing, and modern, up-to-date housing for workers with families.
One person suggested tearing down the old Star Furniture building and the old factory or the old feed store and constructing a multi-story building with underground parking, with the first floor set-up with restaurants/food stores and shops and with the remaining levels containing additional apartments for senior citizens. This would provide a housing option for seniors and would open up the homes for new families to rent or purchase.
Without housing, I would be willing to guarantee that the money made in County will continue to be spent out-of-County. And sadly, Doddridge will continue on a downward spiral until it is completely dead.