With the goal of attracting high-tech businesses to Beckley, the 4-C Economic Development Authority has constructed an impressive 10,000 square-foot facility in the Pinecrest Business and Technology Park.

Community leaders from throughout southern West Virginia gathered Monday afternoon to dedicate the facility in honor of U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who secured a $2 million grant for its construction. The building was named The Rahall Center at the Woodlands.

“The idea is to establish places where high technology companies can locate,” said Judy Radford, executive director of 4-C. “We hope to lease this entire facility to one company.”

Radford explained that the new facility is part of a long-term plan to bring technology companies to the region by meeting their needs for infrastructure and a trained workforce. In this effort, Radford described the importance of high speed Internet.

“Companies need faster speed (Internet) to connect with their constituents, and the service needs to be more affordable,” Radford said.

As more high-tech companies locate in southern West Virginia, the demand for broadband will increase, said Norm Kirkham, executive director of Connected Technologies Corridors, which assisted in building the new facility in Beckley.

Speaking during the dedication, Kirkham explained that increased demand for broadband will motivate communications companies like Verizon and Frontier to provide the service to the region.

During his remarks Monday, Rahall also stressed the importance of broadband availability.

“This is about necessity,” he said. “Connecting to Internet broadband is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity.”

“Our small businesses in southern West Virginia are going to be able to compete with big companies in big cities because of Internet and broadband technology,” Rahall said.

Rahall said that the regional approach to technology and economic development is working, and that southern West Virginia is primed for growth.

“We have such a regional effort and that is vital,” Rahall said. “It’s no longer one city working against another city.”

“If they can do it in other parts (of the country), we can do it here,” he said.

The 4-C Economic Development Authority works to facilitate economic development efforts in Raleigh, Summers, Fayette and Nicholas counties.

Bill Baker, president of 4-C, and also a member of the Pinecrest Business and Technology Park’s board of directors, says he believes that the new facility is an important step in local development efforts.

“This is one of the first buildings in Pinecrest, and for those of us on the Pinecrest Board, this is kind of a model for what we want this park to look like,” Baker said. “It’s a first class park, and this is a first class facility.”

Baker said that the facility can be modified to fit the special needs of any business, and that 4-C is willing to negotiate the lease contract with interested businesses. In these negotiations, 4-C will take into consideration the number and quality of jobs brought into the community by the business.

“Our goal is to bring the maximum amount of high paying jobs with benefits for those working in technology areas,” he said.

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