(Editor's note: The Tyler Star News recently held some conversations with members of the Paden City Development Authority to help the community better understand the group's purpose and work. The conversation, though not an exact transcript, is given below.)
The Paden City Development Authority was established by an act of Paden City Council, meaning its existence as a Paden City Ordinance was created by the second reading of Article 153, as part of Ordinance 1989-11. At its creation, several prominent citizens were invited to join and participate on the PCDA.
Currently there are seven appointed members and ex-officio member Mayor John Hopkins, Patty Casteel, president; Cork Bowen, vice president; Bill Fox, secretary; Larry Potts, treasurer; and members Tom Martin, Richard Gallagher, and Tom Yaron make up the board.
The Paden City Development meets regularly on the second Monday of each month at the City Building beginning at 6 p.m.
What is the PCDA's purpose?
Bowen: The primary purpose of the authority is to create, promote, develop, and advance the business prosperity and economic welfare of Paden City, for its citizens, and its industrial complex
In what way the PCDA plans to move forward in accomplishing the purpose for which it was established?
Bowen: It is not only the purpose but also the goal of the Development Authority to improve the standard of living of every citizen of Paden City. The PCDA should work to rehabilitate and assist existing business and industrial activity, which will tend to advance business and industrial development and maintain the economic stability of the PCDA.
Wasn't the PCDA created to also provide opportunities for employment by promoting the expansion of all kinds of business and industrial activity by assisting through loans, credit, and furnishing money, land, and industrial sites and also through technical support, training, and other aid to deserving applicants, for the promotion of business activity in Paden City?
Fox: Yes and that is exactly what we are trying to do. The first purchase by the PCDA was in 1994, that is when the Paden City Middle School was acquired from the Tyler County Board of Education as Tyler County consolidated its middle school to the Tyler Consolidated High School property. We then renamed the old middle school the Paden City Health and Recreation Building. It has over 22,000 square feet of rentable space. The two major tenants are the Wetzel-Tyler Health Department and the Paden City Youth Grasshopper League. We currently are also renting to two church groups. We have recently approved the installation of new energy-saving windows in the gymnasium on the north side and top windows on the east and west ends of the gym. The total contract price approved for the new windows is $28,900, for which no loans were needed. We have been able to do major renovations along with regular maintenance and now the new windows without borrowing another penny.
Bowen: In 2000 the PCDA was active again in buying the Paden City Industrial Park (IP). The industrial park sets on 11 acres of land in the Tyler County portion of the city. It has over 200,000 square feet under roof. The property originally housed the Paden City Pottery, which closed in the early 60's. A few years later Corning Glass moved into the building and continued operating there until 1990. Paden City, at that time, lost a major portion of its employment for local people. It became evident that the city needed a plan to recruit new business to the IP. From 1990 until 2000 various business ventures leased and rented space there. The PCDA purchased the building for approximately $825,000 through loans from the West Virginia Department of Development and WesBanco. The industrial park was leased to several tenants from 2000 to 2008, when a major tenant left and a year later another also left, leaving the IP empty.
Casteel: The development authority has been able to pay down the loans to where the health and recreation building debt free and the IP has only $280,000 left on its note. This happened as we consolidated our loans by refinancing into one loan at a much lower rate, which allows us to make additional payments. In the summer of 2010 the fortunes of the PCDA began to change. One, then another, small oil/gas contractors leased space in the IP, generating an income for the PCDA. Over the last three years the amount of leased space has continued to grow. Our major tenant is Oil States Services, Inc. and we have a strong relationship with them.
What is the current financial condition of the PCDA at this time?
Potts: The authority is doing very well. We are able to maintain what we have and as we continue to improve the properties they, of course, become more suitable for tenants.
Bowen: The current board is proud of its accomplishments and as the finances continue to improve we will soon be in good enough shape to start working on the primary purpose of the PCDA-provide maximum opportunities for employment, encourage thrift, and improve the standard of living of the citizens of Paden City. Actually our business cards state "Helping Paden City reach it's potential".
How many employees does the PCDA have?
Casteel: We currently have one part-time employee. And we also have an accountant on retainer. Most everything that we accomplish is done through volunteer work of the members. Not one member on the board receives one cent for the services they provide. We are very fortunate to have dedicated residents and business people on the board. And this is not to be bragging, but our lists of accomplishments range from electrical renovations, roofing, energy efficient heating systems, gas lines, new lighting, patching and painting, to regular upkeep. We have invested over $70,000 in the IP. Upgrading and repairs is crucial in recruiting and keeping tenants. As the old saying goes, "You have to spend money to make money".
Being you are an organization established by ordinance. are you under control of the city council as far as your decisions are concerned, including your finances?
Casteel: The PCDA operates independently from the city, except when it comes to approval of new members. The authority recommends new prospective members and council is asked to approve them. We control our own finances and make and approve all other decisions concerning business transactions.
How much office space is currently available for rent or lease in the H&R Building and the IP? And are you actively seeking new tenants?
Fox: We definitely have space available-several office spaces in the H&R and still room for another major tenant at the IP. As to the exact footage, I wouldn't know off hand. We are always looking to bring in new business. We advertise through the State Journal and we also use the Commerce Department's website which has recently been updated with information, pictures, and specs of our properties.
What would be your response if approached for aid or help from other organizations or businesses within the city, considering the the Development Authority was created to cooperate and act in conjunction with others for the betterment of Paden City?
Casteel: They would consider all requests based on need, but first the PCDA must become financially solvent in order to achieve that part of their existence.
In what direction does the PCDA head next? Are you looking to purchase new properties or are you satisfied with what you now have and at what point do you quit investing in property and become financially solvent to help others in need?
Bowen: We believe we are heading in the right direction and that is to say we are always looking for opportunities. We also believe there will be a point where we will have our properties maintained to a level that makes them attractive to business. That takes time and money, but we are working in that direction. You will always have needs as long as you are leasing, so that will never go away. However, again, our goal is to invest in Paden City.