Broadband funding is big news this week, with more than $1.2 BILLION coming to West Virginia. Infrastructure investments and funding opportunities have been unprecedented since 2020, with our region receiving millions for water, sewer, and broadband projects. And with good reason. Utilities are foundational elements of infrastructure development. They provide the basic framework necessary for economic activities to take place. They ensure the smooth functioning of our current business operations. And they attract investment.
This week, the Greenbrier Valley EDC met with utility partners in the region to discuss our business parks. Facilitated by Insite Consulting, these meetings were designed to help us understand the strengths and weaknesses of sites and find the highest and best use of our properties. These Utility Response Teams are critical in business attraction and expansion efforts, just as utility infrastructure play a crucial role in economic development. Without these partners, the Greenbrier Valley cannot move forward.
When businesses locate to a region, available land is important, but it is the utility infrastructure and its excess capacity that seals the deal. Electricity, water, sanitation, transportation, gas supply, and telecommunications partners in our area work with the Greenbrier Valley EDC to access the changing capacities of our systems and help us respond to requests for information.
For our general readers, a little more explanation:
When we receive RFIs, we are usually provided with very little company information. Shared information includes their site and building specs required and requirements for utilities and transformation. Initial requests usually look something like this: (Edited for this purpose, NOT an actual pending RFI)
Project Adrena: Manufacturing company seeks existing building with room for expansion.
|Total Size||80,000 – 120,000 SF|
|Site Size||20 AC|
|Required Parking||60 Spaces|
|Required Truck Docks||5 docks|
|Highway access||Max 10 min to 4-way interchange|
|Standalone Building Required?||Yes|
|Ceiling Height Minimum||35’|
|Electricity Capacity||22.5 MW|
|Three Phase Power Required||Yes|
|Water Capacity |
(Gallons per month)
|Natural Gas Capacity||10 mcf/hour|
|Telecom/Broadband||Fiber preferred |
Voice, Data at 1Gdps
Knowing what excess capacity our systems have is vital to this process. In this example, if we know from our utility provider partners that excess capacity for water at the site is 350,000 gpm, then we can serve this business that needs 10,000gpm. And on the list goes for each provider.
If we can’t serve currently, knowing the cost and the timeline of increasing that capacity helps. If fiber is a mere 750 feet away and it can be extended for $10k in a month’s time, then we can note that. If natural gas is required, but the nearest service line is 80 miles away, it’s not feasible to extend. That site won’t fit.
This is a simplified explanation, of course, and when the rubber hits the road, the process of selecting a site goes a bit further. Expansion projects for existing businesses rely on these same partnerships. Can a site handle a planned expansion? Or can we improve transportation assets to handle increased trucking? The WV DOH worked with us with a problem intersection at our Rahall Building to do just that.
We are grateful for these partnerships across the region. We are thankful the federal and state government continues to fund upgrades and expansions. These investments foster economic growth and enhance the overall well-being of communities.