Monongalia County Commissioner predicts further growth in new year
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Monongalia County Commissioner Jeff Arnett is entering his second year of service and is optimistic about 2022 for the county.
Arnett said the latest census shows Monongalia County is one of the growing areas in the state and the housing market is strong. He said the county’s strong economic growth would help offset some setbacks suffered in 2021.
“The shutdown of Mylan is definitely going to hurt us in the long run,” Arnett said on a recent edition of “Talk of the Town” on WAJR Radio. “But, there are some things going on in Morgantown Industrial Park and other areas that will hopefully replace some of those jobs. So I think we are still moving forward.
Arnett said the committee’s strong relationships and regular meetings with Morgantown, Star City and Granville city councils have resulted in an “all the land” approach rather than a strict focus on the county.
The 1,000-acre WestRidge Corporate Park was also a bright spot for the county. The Bass Pro Shop destination store and a 170,000 square foot Menards opened in 2021. The site already has a Fed-Ex distribution center and regional headquarters for Leidos, and it will soon be home to the Drury Inn hotel with 187 rooms.
Arnett said the Monongalia County region generates about 25% of the state’s tax base.
“We provide a good chunk of the tax base. We’re growing and attracting national companies, we attracting companies, we attracting retail organizations to come here, ”Arnett said. “They can see the value, growth and potential that is found here in the Monongalia County area.”
Arnett expects more good news to come from that part of the county in 2022.
Morgantown Industrial Park currently has over 15 tenants and that number is expected to increase. The Morgantown Utility Board recently approved contracts worth over $ 500,000 to improve the park’s water supply.
“We have a very progressive developer in this area who can see what can be done there and has seen it and developed land to bring these companies here,” Arnett said. “He continues to recruit them and there are a lot of great things on the horizon, I can tell you that.”
The creation of the TIF Harmony Grove will finance the environmental and feasibility study of a new exit from I-79 which will also create more growth opportunities.
“The vital importance is getting the exit ramp at Harmony Grove to access this industrial park,” Arnett said. “This is a huge project that we are working on and that we have worked on. “
The commission has allocated $ 250,000 for broadband expansion, but a portion of the $ 20.5 million expected from federal COVID relief can also be used.
The County Broadband Committee comprised of Commissioner Sean Sikora, County IT Director Jeff Welsh, County Planner Andrew Gast-Bray, MECCA-911 Representative Mike Fortney, Erik Carlson of the Morgantown Area Partnership, Ron Lytle of the Council from Mon County Education and MMPO director Bill Austin is expected to start identifying projects early this year.
“Kids have to have the internet to do their homework and we have to have the internet for our businesses to come in, so I think that’s a game-changer,” he said.
Arnett also cited more development at Mylan Park to include the 4-H center and the new entrepreneurial kitchen. Additionally, the newly renovated Camp Muffly Pool is slated to reopen this spring.