WEIRTON - The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle has parlayed funding from local government into big gains for the community, Executive Director Pat Ford said.
BDC gets a big chunk of its annual funding from the City of Weirton, $25,000; Brooke and Hancock counties, $30,000 each, and Beech Bottom, $5,000, in addition to contributions by business and industry in its service area.
"What we try to do is leverage every public dollar that's invested in our organization to create private investment and family-sustaining job opportunities for Brooke and Hancock counties," Ford said.
This week, Weirton City Council passed a resolution renewing its financial support of the BDC.
At Tuesday's meeting, Ford told council that, since the BDC board reorganized and redefined its goals in 2009, they'd been able to assist the private sector in creating 139 new jobs with a combined annual payroll of $3.9 million and preserving 453 jobs with a combined annual payroll of $11.8 million, all of it in the two-county area.
The BDC's total investment in the two counties has been $38.7 million - almost evenly split between public dollars ($19.5 million) and private investment ($19.2 million).
"The numbers say a lot about the leadership of the board of directors," Ford said. "They had the vision to create a plan, the vision to create an investment board where people actually invested ... with the expectation of seeing a return. And here we are, three years later, able to report on the very positive impact of what those collective investments have meant to the community."
He said funds from Weirton are earmarked for recruiting new business, helping retain or expand existing businesses; buying, remediating or developing land; providing technical or financial assistance to existing business and industry, and job creation and retention.
Specifically, he said since 2009 Weirton's $25,000 annual investment has yielded $4.1 million in annual payroll gains, created 225 jobs and $9.7 million in investment.
Ford said they try to "think in terms of what's good not only for the community, but also for the Panhandle."
"We make sure we do everything we can to keep our existing tax base as well as bring in new (business and industry)," he told council.
He said the information will be included in the BDC's annual report to its members, to be delivered later this year.
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)