The recent session of the Legislature provided the West Virginia Regional Technology Park with the money it needs for operating expenses but didn't provide enough money to move the state Department of Agriculture's laboratories.
The tech park has a total annual operating budget of about $6.4 million. It receives about $2.4 million in revenue from rents and license fees, leaving a $4 million operating deficit. The park asked for $4 million.
Legislators were considering providing $3 million when, for a short time during the session, the Senate Finance Committee erased all of the money on a motion by Senate Education Chairman Robert Plymale, D-Wayne.
Plymale said he was against the funding as long as there was a rumor that West Virginia University Institute of Technology might relocate its engineering department to the park.
The rumor was said to be unfounded, and when the session ended, the park received $3 million.
Phil Halstead, the park's executive director, was asked how the park would make up the remaining $1 million needed for operating expenses.
"We'll make it up by reducing costs, by increasing revenues by procuring new tenants, and any other methods we can find," he said.
Shortly after The Dow Chemical Co. gave the park to the state in December 2010, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture said it wanted to move its laboratories to the park from outdated buildings at Guthrie.
In a January interview, state Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass estimated it would cost $20 million to build a new lab building. But he figured the department could remodel space in Building 770 at the tech park for about $10 million. The four-story, 130,000-square-foot building is currently vacant.
Douglass said he would ask the governor for $3 million to get started. Agriculture Department spokesman Buddy Davidson said of the request:
* $1 million was to buy some new equipment and to move equipment from Guthrie to Building 770. "We have pretty modern equipment but some of it is out of date," he explained. Also, special expertise is needed to set up some of the most sensitive equipment.
* $2 million was to renovate the space in Building 770 the department would occupy.