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Charleston Area Alliance elects new board, hears project updates

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Charleston Area Alliance elected four new board members and heard reports about some of the organization's programs at its annual meeting.

More than 50 people attended the event Tuesday afternoon in the alliance's conference room at 1116 Smith St.

Newly elected to the board to fill vacancies were: Brian Hemphill of West Virginia State University; Tyler London of The Dow Chemical Co.; Jeff McIntyre of West Virginia American Water; and, representing small business, George Smith of O.V. Smith & Sons.

Re-elected to three-year terms were: John Copenhaver of JPMorgan Chase, Julie Gurtis of United Bank, Virginia King of Kanawha Stone, Robert Pepper of NGK Spark Plug USA, and Jack Rossi of Arnett Foster Toothman. Re-elected representing small business were: John Calvert of Advanced Technical Solutions, Maureen O'Toole of ImageServ and Steve Rubin of Blue Creek Gas Co.

Andrew Dunlap, the alliance's economic development project manager, explained how a new program, the Educator/Industry Institute, brought educators together with more than 20 business leaders to help both groups understand what's needed in the future workforce.

"We're recruiting businesses for the next go-round," Dunlap said. For more information email him at

Cullen Naumoff, the alliance's Vision 2030 project manager, explained the Grow program, designed to support entrepreneurs, and Thrive, the alliance's crowd-sourcing initiative.

Julie Wirtz explained how Grow helped her turn a studio on the second floor of a building in the Bridge Road Shops into a business, Dressmakers Closet. Wirtz said she is about to hire three additional employees.

Naumoff played a video in which Jay Cipoletti explained how Thrive helped him turn an idea in a Twitter feed into a business named Hoopalytics.

JoEllen Zacks, the alliance's senior vice president, spoke briefly about several programs, including Generation Charleston, which involves more than 1,000 young people; Success Strategies, the alliance's business development workshops; and Elevations, the organization's professional women's network.

Susie Salisbury, the alliance's vice president of community development, discussed Leadership Kanawha Valley, the alliance's leadership development program; and ArtWalk, the monthly event that highlights downtown businesses.

Bryan Cummings, senior development officer with the Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation, said he found the leadership program to be of great value and highly recommends it.

Salisbury said ArtWalk, which began 10 years ago with eight participating downtown businesses, "has grown nearly 300 percent." She introduced Megan Delfine of Delfine's Jewelry on Capitol Street.

Delfine said the jewelry store has participated in ArtWalk since last March. "We've had a really good time," she said. "We've reconnected with some old customers, and we've invited new people in with the food, beverages and a fun atmosphere."

Salisbury noted that there will be a special ArtWalk Thursday evening in conjunction with FestivALL Fall. More information about FestivALL Fall is online at

Matthew Thompson, the alliance's communications manager, unveiled the organization's new website, which is at the alliance's former address,

The site "contains tons of links, a wide-screen look, social media and an updated membership directory with member-company logos," he said.

Thompson also said a new membership application for mobile devices will be unveiled next month.

The Charleston Area Alliance was formed in 2004 with the merger of the Business & Industrial Development Corp., known as BIDCO; the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce; and Charleston Renaissance Corp.

Matthew Ballard, the alliance's president and chief executive officer, introduced each staff member. The accounting and consulting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman hosted the hour-long event.

Contact writer George Hohmann at or 304-348-4836.



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