MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Through a team effort between the Morgantown Area Partnership (MAP) and the Preston County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA), the area is now included in the BUILD WV territory to incentivize the construction of affordable housing.

President and CEO of MAP, Russ Rogerson, said qualifying housing development projects within a 20-mile radius of Browns Mill, WV, can receive state sales and use tax exemptions for building materials and a 10-year property value adjustment refundable tax credit to defray building costs. The Browns Mill location was selected as the center point in order to maximize the area of land in each county.

Projects eligible for the BUILD WV Act must meet the following criteria:
Be in a certified BUILD WV Act District.
-Generate approved costs greater than $3 million, or include at least six units or houses.
– Create a significant positive economic impact on the state.
– Will directly or indirectly improve opportunities in the area where the project will be located for the successful establishment or expansion of other commercial businesses.
– Provide additional employment opportunities in the state.

“The developer now needs to get their project certified by the state, and that is an important step,” Rogerson said. “Once they do that, it becomes more of an administrative process to receive the sales tax credit.”

Passed in 2022, the program is managed by the West Virginia Department of Development, and applications must get the approval of James Bailey, Secretary of Commerce, Chelsea Ruby, Secretary of the Department of Tourism, and Mitch Carmichael, Secretary of the Department of Economic Development.

PCEDA Executive Director Roberta “Robbie” Baylor said local developers are prepared to take advantage of the program.

“For our district, we actually had a developer that came to us and asked to apply for this status because they wanted to take advantage of it,” Baylor said.

A tight monetary policy leading to rising interest rates and high inflation is forcing many developers to pump the brakes on new construction.

“Say, somebody is looking at the increased cost of development, and their numbers aren’t quite as attractive as they need to be; building material processes are up,” Rogerson said.

Baylor said the program incentivizes the construction of workforce-affordable homes for families, but not necessarily low-income homes.

“The hope is it will provide incentives to builders to develop, not low-income, but workforce affordable housing in both Preston and Monongalia Counties,” Baylor said.

Co-owner of Metro Properties David Biafora told WAJR News the program would be of value to some developers.

“On a $5 million project, if you can save at least the 6-percent sales tax to the state,” Biafora said. “That goes a long way against the rent.”