By Michele Newbanks
Staff Writer

A joint Calhoun-Wirt County economic development venture may make it easier for the counties to get grant money.

"The joint venture is a step in the right direction," Calhoun County Commission member Larry McCallister said.

"They give more matching funds to participants in the multi-county developments," Wirt County Commission President Lintion Offutt added.

It was announced at the Calhoun County Commission meeting monday night that twice the economic development money will be available for the venture.

Offutt explained that it is much harder for a single county to obtain money for grants. State officials have encouraged counties to band together, which makes it easier for the multi-county developments to receive state money.

"The big benefits is that having a two-county development authority, you can leverage twice the amount of money," Calhoun County Commission President Bob Weaver said. "That's sort of the driving force behind joint venturing. There are about 26 counties that are essentially below the poverty level. We're all scrambling to get job opportunities."

An organizational meeting of the new boards of directors is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 26 at the Calhoun Courthouse in Grantsville. Members of the board will discuss how the Little Kanawha Area Development Corp. can apply for grants.

The eight members of the board of directors will elect officers at the meeting. The board consists of four appointees from each county. The board also includes, as ex-officio members, the presidents of the county commissions and the mayors of Grantsville and Elizabeth.

The six members from Calhoun county are Danny Law, Dan McDonald, Jim Morford, Donnie Pitts, Commission President Bob Weaver and Grantsville Mayor Gary Knight.

The six members from Wirt County are Brian Sims, Phil Shears, Alvin Engelke, Dave Cox, Commission President Lention Offutt and Elizabeth Mayor Lewis Full.

The big hurdle now is obtaining the grants to move forward with plans.

"Mr. Offutt and I are hopeful that we can put this project on the road," Weaver said. "We want to be able to attract some small or light industry or businesses to the area that would benefit our people. We do have a lot of problems in common, in that both of out county tax bases are stagnant."

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