GVEDC Executive Director Says They Are Treading Carefully On Topic Of Gas Drilling
Lewisburg, WV – When it comes to gas drilling in Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe Counties, Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Steve Weir says a lot of thought has to go into planning for that possibility.
“From an economic development point of view, I think one of the things we’re trying to do is work with the three counties in terms of right now, assessment of the situation” he says, “and to look at the counties on balance; see what the impacts will be and what the benefits and potential problems will be for each county. And it changes as you go north to south from Pocahontas to Greenbrier to Monroe.”
He says Monroe County, like many parts of Pocahontas is comprised of karst geology, with a lot of caves, sinkholes and very sensitive ecosystems. And like Pocahontas, water is a significant and highly valued resource in that county. Weir says the way Monroe is dealing with the issue of drilling could be helpful to Pocahontas.
“I believe that Monroe County, specifically led by the County Commission and people like Rod Graves from the Planning Commission, have done an excellent job in looking at this, researching it” says Weir. “Monroe County Planning Commission drafted an MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] that was struck with Gordy Oil. I believe it is being looked at and possibly used as an example by the committee that the state has recently put together for the legislature.”
“People down there have done an excellent job, and I expect the people in the other counties, Greenbrier and Pocahontas to do the same thing.”
Under Weir’s direction, the GVEDC now appears to take a more inclusive viewpoint of the three counties it serves. He says there is a lot of capability and well informed people in all three counties.
“Obviously we’re here to do the job for all three counties, and while you do look at the three counties separately, and assess them for their own strengths and weaknesses, you have to look at all three counties as a unit to see whether or not there are advantages to be gained” says Weir. “Especially in situations like farming where the actual act of farming and getting to market and selling produce can transcend boundaries. Can they gain, for example, from sharing transportation costs; we’re looking at all that.”
Weir says they are also taking a hard look at all of the properties currently owned by the GVEDC, including the Edray Business Park in Pocahontas, which has sat largely empty a good deal of the time since its completion in 2005.
“All of our properties are being examined right now for future disposition, and Edray’s included in that” he says. “A matter of fact, we are in the process of transitioning Edray to other ownership to the benefit of Pocahontas County.”
In fact, they are in negotiations with the state division of highways to take over the building and 10 acres of land surrounding it.