By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Several companies with options on land in Mercer County are still waiting on the national economy to improve before making a decision to locate in the area.
Janet Bailey, executive director of the Mercer County Development Authority, said there has been little movement on the part of businesses previously looking at sites in Mercer County.
“A lot of companies we have been talking with still have options on property in the area,” she said. “They have the option of moving on the property, but we aren’t sure what they will choose to do. Those agreements are still in effect, though we aren’t sure what will happen with those.”
Bailey previously told the Daily Telegraph businesses including Target, Home Depot, Logan’s Roadhouse, the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), and Dunkin’ Donuts have all expressed interest in the Mercer County area but may be waiting for the economy to improve before settling in the area.
According to Bailey, several factors may be impacting why businesses are not seeking new development in the area.
“During this time, a lot of companies are so busy with the holidays, they aren’t looking to expand or start a new location or business,” she said. “It is a very hectic time. Usually, expansion modes for the business will move forward throughout the winter months. I would say the economy is the big halt on a lot of new development right now. We are also waiting to see our legislators get in office and see where they are in terms of projects that deal with economic development.”
Though development has slowed for now, Bailey said she is optimistic development will pick up in the new year.
“I feel like things will be picking up soon and a lot of businesses will be taking a second look at what we have in Mercer County,” Bailey said.
“It is similar to what happened in the early 1980s when there wasn’t anything moving. According to all of the economic indicators I have heard, things will probably start picking up between 2013 and 2014, and we will see more retail and manufacturing businesses pick up. I really believe we will see a lot then, possibly on even into 2015.”
Presently, Bailey said she and other economic development officials are working on securing manufacturing jobs for the region.
“Right now we are trying to maintain the manufacturing base we have since that is the lifeblood of any community,” she said. “We all like retail and restaurants, but without manufacturing we do not have a full-scale workforce. That is more or less what we are trying to do right now.”�