CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced that the Hobet economic development project in Southern West Virginia will be known as Rock Creek Development Park. Through a public-private approach, the state has reached agreement with local landowners, who are donating developable acreage to the state, on more than 12,000 acres in Boone and Lincoln counties.
“Rock Creek Development Park holds incredible potential for unprecedented economic growth and new jobs in the heart of Southern West Virginia,” said. Gov. Tomblin. “I am committed to each and every West Virginian impacted by the downturn in the coal industry. For decades, our coal miners, workers and their families have kept our state strong. Now, it’s our turn to help them.”
Joined by West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette and Major General James A. Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard, Gov. Tomblin also announced that the National Guard is making an initial investment in the park for a three-pronged seed project. On property adjacent to land identified for industrial development, the National Guard will expand its national vehicle maintenance work to the site, increase training, and develop new agricultural operations that include apple trees and greenhouses.
“Rock Creek and the National Guard represent a promising partnership, and I am proud that the Guard is making this seed investment in the park,” Gov. Tomblin said. “Through vehicle maintenance operations and expanded training for Guard members, we’ll be bringing jobs and activity to the site and helping make the Guard even stronger. Our state’s agriculture industry stands to see a boost as well, with the long-term potential for production operations that employ West Virginians.”
The Department of Commerce, which is beginning to market the park to potential investors, has contracted with outside consultants on long-term strategic planning for the development of Rock Creek. Through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the consultants are analyzing demographics and market trends to identify the best investment opportunities for the park, while mapping out plans for infrastructure and design.
“We have all seen the impact of drastic economic shifts on West Virginia’s families, and on our local and state economies,” said Gov. Tomblin. “The county commissions of Boone, Lincoln, Mingo and Logan counties have all announced their support of Rock Creek. We believe, together, in the future of Southern West Virginia. And we are committed to seeing this project through.”