Tyler County Development Authority
The Executive Director of the Tyler County Development Authority (TCDA), Eric Peters, has served in his position for 23 years. He was a member of the 1968 graduating class of Sistersville High School and a 1973 graduate of Marshall University earning a degree in advertising and journalism. Thereafter, he obtained his master’s degree in 1976 in Media Production. Following graduation from Marshall, Eric was employed by the West Virginia Development Office in Charleston, WV working at the state capitol building. Eric is a nationally certified Professional Community and Economic Developer, and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute, as well as the WVU Community Development Institute.
The Tyler County Development Authority (TCDA) is the primary economic development agency for Tyler County with their office located at 210 Elizabeth Street in Sistersville, WV. The TCDA is a public nonprofit corporation and governed by a board of directors appointed by the Tyler County Commission with each municipality (Sistersville, Paden City, Friendly and Middlebourne) represented by one member. Currently the TCDA board has 14 members. Information gathered from the Tyler County Development Authority’s website states, “The TCDA directs its efforts toward innovative and traditional economic development, community development through enhancements to public infrastructure, workforce development, as well as the enhancement and preservation of natural, recreation and tourism assets.”
The TCDA was incorporated in 1997 and gained IRS exempt status in 2001. Since 1997, they have secured $9.6 million in state and federal grants, have attracted $42 million in private investment and generated approximately 150 new manufacturing jobs in the area.
Funding for the TCDA is supplied by annual grants from the WV Development Office requiring dollar for dollar local matching funds from the Tyler County Commission. Income is also generated from land and buildings leased to companies in the Bens Run Industrial Park by the TCDA.
Many accomplishments were secured by the TCDA in 2020 that will beneficially affect Tyler County. They include the US Department of Agriculture funding $3.5 million for the ReConnect Broadband Expansion Project to serve approximately 1,300 Tyler County businesses and households with project construction to begin in the 1st quarter of 2021. This project will bring fiber infrastructure throughout the county including bringing FTTH (fiber to the home) to almost 1,400 residences, three school facilities, a healthcare center and five community facilities within a 26 square mile area. One of the major concerns driving this project has been the ability of school age kids to access reliable connectivity from home.
Federal grants were secured in the amount of $284,635.00 by the TCDA to replace Industrial Park Rail Spur, State Rt 2 crossing at Bens Run. Anyone traveling Route 2 in the Bens Run area before the repair was made can easily recall its poor condition. Road quality at the sight required motorists to come to a near stop before crossing the tracks threatening the safety of all drivers.
Through their membership in the Polymer Alliance Zone, the TCDA have engaged in regional marketing and promotion at trade shows aimed to generate new leads for investment and business location related to the polymer industry. The Polymer Alliance Zone extends all along the Ohio River border from Tyler County to Wayne County; this location enjoys the reputation as one of the most vital regions for polymer and chemical production in the county. It also boasts a highly trained and experienced workforce.
The TCDA was instrumental in launching the reopening of the Sistersville Ferry in July of 2020. The Authority was able to secure $30,000 in federal transit funds for Ferry operations, and along with the WVDOH, was able to direct Federal Highways Administration funds to repair the ferry landing at Fly, Ohio.
The TCDA continues its efforts to market the counties federally designated Opportunity Zone to make the Zone more attractive to investors. The Opportunity Zone is a Census Tract of federal designated locations for private investments to earn tax benefits. The Zone was created to encourage recovery and growth in distressed communities. Shareholders can benefit from real estate or business investments within the Zone area, while deferring many tax obligations on gains received from their investments.
In closing, economic and community development efforts and projects take place over a long-term-time frame. Large public and private investments require lengthy due diligence on the part of the funding investment sources. The TCDA works patiently and attempts to remain ready to react quickly when opportunities present themselves, while working day to day to make the county and communities more attractive for new investments.
Eric was quick to point out the 14 member board receives no compensation and their only reward is providing service to their communities. Eric shared, “I do this job because I have a passion for the community. The jobs we generate affect many people and families allowing them to provide food, housing, and education for their family. The TCDA builds a better community in our county.”
Eric and his wife Cindy live in the Sistersville area and have been married for 42 years. Together they have four adult children, Luke, Mathew, Catherine and Anne. They also have seven grandchildren, five boys and two girls.
Tyler County Development Authority meetings are usually held immediately following the Tyler County Planning Commission meeting at 7:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Meetings are held at the Tyler County Courthouse and are open to the public.