MADISON — On her Sept. 1 speaking tour of southern W.Va., Senator Shelly Moore Capito made a stop at the Heritage & Cultural Center next door to the Coal Museum in downtown Madison to discuss economic growth and the prospects of improved broadband access with local business leaders.
The event was well-attended by members of the Logan County Chamber of Commerce, Logan County Commission, the Economic Development Authority and a representative from Governor Tomblin’s office.
Capito opened the meeting saying, “I want to start off by saying what an incredible honor it is for me to be in the United States Senate representing for our state….for all of the women and men in the crowd it is a huge honor for me to be the first woman ever elected to serve in the United States Senate from the state of West Virginia.”
Capito explained her Senate Committee assignments on the Environment and Public Works, Energy and Appropriations Committees before elucidating her stances in relation to President Barack Obama. “…the President came out with his clean power plan…which is his new plan to cut carbon emissions which, if its even possible to further devastate our region, it’s going to further devastate our region because of the nature, not just of our coal exploration, but the way we generate our energy.”
Capito then championed the ARENA Act which will allow states flexibility in adopting regulations surrounding the Clean Air Act. The ARENA Act will also stop further regulatory moves until they are proven to be constitutional. While the ARENA Act has moved through the Environment and Public Works Committee; however, is yet to pass the senate, the house or be signed by the President.
W.Va. State Senator Ron Stollings, two members of the Boone County Commission, officials with the City of Madison, Boone Memorial Hospital, the Boone County Economic Development Corporation, the Coal Valley News, local law enforcement and other local groups were present at the meeting.
Stollings and Kris Mitchell with the Boone County Economic Development Corporation spoke with Capito about potential property in Boone County available for business development, but in need of infrastructure and access.
County commissioners spoke of the hardships faced by the loss of coal severance tax money and lack of cell phone service in many parts of the county.
“We have lost several coal mining jobs, as well as coal mine companies shutting down and taking their mining equipment with them, which really hurts our tax collections,” Boone County Commissioner Mickey Brown said.
Capito also heard about the good news of the new Boone Memorial Hospital, which is currently under construction in Madison.
“The hospital is a vital part of our community and needs all the support it can get from the federal government,” Madison Mayor Sonny Howell told Capito.
Howell said Madison was a very attract place to live and work and was a “bedroom community” for many that work in Charleston.
“They like to live in our communities, just minutes down Corridor G from Charleston, but we have been hit hard economically and have noticed declines in population that are very concerning,” Howell told Capito.
Capito vowed to help Boone County and bring the communities’ local issues to Washington.
• Meanwhile, the West Virginia Press Association reported that with dozens of small business owners and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. in attendance, representatives of Google presented ‘Let’s Put Charleston on the Map’ at the Clay Center last week.
With a focus on helping small business owners get more attention through Google searches and their online presence, a team from Google explained programs and techniques for increase online opportunities to about 100 business representatives from the Charleston area and around the state.
Sen. Capito said the goal was “more business, more jobs and more prosperity.”
“Small businesses of all kinds benefitted from today’s workshop, and it was inspiring to see West Virginia’s entrepreneurial spirit in action,” said Sen. Capito. “These same businesses are the backbone of our local communities, and power our state’s economy. Through my Capito Connect Plan, I am working hard to get more West Virginia businesses online, and today’s workshop was a step in the right direction.”
“With customers increasingly turning to technology to search for what they need, it’s important that local businesses can be found online when people are looking for them,” said Soo Young Kim, head of Google’s Get Your Business Online Program. “We want Charleston small businesses to be online and on the map to continue shaping communities around the country,” she said.
Among other information, attendees received instructions on websites and increasing visibility on Google. The event featured workshops to help small businesses build their online presence with a free website and listings on Google Maps and Search. Businesses also received a customized domain name, free web hosting for a year and other free training and resources.
According to Google representatives, the Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map Program aims to provide businesses across the country with practical solutions that will allow them to be discovered easily by people searching for products and services online. By making the process of getting online faster, easier and free, more customers will be able to find businesses in their areas when they turn to the Web for information.
According to the presentation, four out of five people use search engines to find local information, like business hours and addresses and businesses with complete listings are twice as likely to be considered reputable by customers.
According to information from the seminar, when local businesses are online, local economies benefit. Complete business information can help generate economic value up to $300,000 in smaller cities or up to $7,000,000 for larger cities, according the the presenters.
Business owners can go to www.gybo.com to see how they currently show up on Google and can update their listings there for free. They also can build a free website and find helpful resources for building a successful business online.
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at email@example.com or @fcpace62 on Twitter.