Harrison County Development Authority Preparing for Reduced Role as Development Corporation Becomes Lead Agency

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — As the Harrison County Economic Development Corporation transitions into the lead economic development agency for the area, the question becomes what to do with the old entities.

On Thursday, Mike Romano, state senator and leader of the Harrison County Development Authority, requested that the county commission dissolve the agency, but not entirely.

“It’s only appropriate to streamline [the agency] so that it can continue to function as statutory entity because of the served purposes, such as long-term commitments that the commission cannot enter into and the new entity will not be able to do that,” he said.

The ability to commit long-term to project is a major motivator to keep the development authority to compliment the development corporation.

“It has the authority to enter into long-term contracts, such as the new pilot program that was just committed to a few months ago to facilitate the construction of the gas fired power plant here in Harrison County,” Romano said, adding that the county is only allowed to enter into such an agreement for one year, while the power plant agreement lasts 30 years.

In order to keep the authority functioning while not utilizing resources from the county, Romano explained they would keep things at a minimum.

“A minimum number of meetings. A minimum number of board members,” he said. “We’re still going to use that board to appoint and have representation for all the municipalities within Harrison County that could not otherwise not afford to be apart of the new entity, and then the commission is going to make them members of the new entity.”

The structure of the Economic Development Corporation allows both public and private entities to obtain positions within the general group and board of directors after paying a fee.

Earlier this year, Bridgeport and Clarksburg pledged $25,000 each to the entity.

The reorganization of the authority will be a “work in progress,” according to Commission President Ron Watson.

“The motion that we had [Thursday] was to put a time frame on August 1 to have a new board appointed, the old board going out,” he said. “We’ll need to have some redirection with regard to what the responsibility are going to be with the old organization.”