Business Booming in the Kanawha Valley

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Call it a revitalization of the Valley. During the last several months, there's been a major business boom with less firing and more hiring.

Looking at the numbers, even with a high unemployment rate, there are more jobs available today than in recent years.

County officials and business owners say this is something they've never seen. Call it an economic hot spot, they say Kanawha County is seeing more jobs open up in several industries that won't only benefit the community, but the entire state.

"I talk to business people everyday; they like our workforce," Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said. "That's the thing we've got going. We've got a great workforce here."

Initially nearly 400 workers will be hired to stamp out car parts in South Charleston. Gestamp is already taking applications for production and assembly workers. The pay is considered highly competitive, which is attracting anxious job seekers.

"It just gives people better opportunities," Joe Rogers said. "Just a lot of people looking for work ... a lot of people laid off."

"Once you have a national company come from another country, it creates another spin off, a satellite," Carper said. "So I think our better days are ahead of us."

A few miles away, another 250 jobs are coming to the future home of Cabela's. The hunting and fishing outfitter is set to open this summer and is interviewing applicants next week.

Looking out for future employees has the West Virginia Regional Technology Park expanding. By fall, more than 100 faculty and 1,700 students will fill the technical college. New businesses could soon add new jobs within the park, too.

"This will become almost a gateway, a focus point for a new identity and image of the state of West Virginia and certainly for the greater Charleston area," CEO Phil Halstead said.

Even the National Guard is seeing some major money savings bringing more opportunities. A new tire rebuild facility will put at least 40 people back to work.

"We can make things here, we can compete here," Carper said. "And you're beginning to see that."

Now the challenge is education and training to keep the workforce competitive well into the future.

Jobs are also being added at a new FedEx facility in Kanawha County. The distribution center in Putnam County is being replaced. It's bigger home will be at the Nitro Marketplace.

A job fair is planned from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at the Charleston Kanawha Housing Authority. It is located at 1545 Washington St. W. Organizers say they've only invited companies that want to fill positions right away.

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