NEW CUMBERLAND - New Cumberland officials hope that a bus tour through town will yield long-lasting results.
The tour, scheduled for 3 p.m. Nov. 25, will include Mayor Linda McNeil, members of New Cumberland City Council and officials with the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, the state-recognized development authority for Brooke and Hancock counties.
The tour is an outgrowth of New Cumberland recently becoming an investment member of the BDC and could result in a strategic plan to boost economic development in the small county seat, said BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford.
"I would like to hear what their ideas are because I might be overlooking something," Ford said.
McNeil said the purpose of the bus tour is to assess and make a list of the city's assets, including, but not limited to, the city parks, Swaney Memorial Library, historic homes and buildings, riverfront property, the Fall Riverfest, the Christmas parade and beautification projects.
McNeil said she hopes the bus tour will result in the development of "a plan on how the BDC and the city can work together to help the city progress."
BDC membership means the city has a seat on the board, with McNeil as the representative, and qualifies for certain technical and financial assistance.
"I anticipate us coming up with an action plan ... whereby the BDC and the city can work together to provide economic development opportunities right there at their doorstep," Ford said.
Among the city's assets, he said, are its railroad links, state Route 2 and the Ohio River.
"They have three critical transportation links that we think can be an asset in getting their community on the radar of business and industry prospects," he said.
New Cumberland also may qualify for grant funding through the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, in Morgantown, to pay for the demolition and/or rehabilitation of dilapidated buildings, Ford said.
McNeil and other city officials have identified unkempt properties as one of the biggest impediments to economic development facing New Cumberland.
The center, with funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, recently began a statewide initiative, known as the BAD Building Program, to help communities address their own "brownfields, abandoned, dilapidated" (BAD) buildings. The program defines BAD buildings as "structures and properties which are vacant, uninhabited and in a state of disrepair, whose owner is taking no active steps to bring the property back into functional use."
Cities may apply for funding from the BAD Building Program by submitting an application by Jan. 7, 2014.
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