www.charlestondailymail.com Business http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers United Bank reports record yearly profit http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150129/DM05/150129099 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150129/DM05/150129099 Thu, 29 Jan 2015 21:25:35 -0500 By Jared Hunt United Bankshares Inc., parent company of United Bank, on Thursday reported an increase in fourth-quarter earnings, which helped boost the company to a record profit for 2014.

The company said it earned $33.3 million, or 48 cents a share, in the fourth quarter. That was up from $19.7 million, or 39 cents a share, during the fourth quarter of 2013. For 2014, the company reported a net profit of $129.9 million, or $1.92 a share, up from the $85.6 million, or $1.70 a share, it earned in 2013.

In 2014, United had the most successful year in the company's long history," said Richard Adams, United's chairman and CEO. "Before tax earnings increased from $125 million to a record $195 million."

The 2014 earnings were boosted by the company's acquisition of Arlington, Va.-based Virginia Commerce Bancorp Inc., which closed on Jan. 31, 2014. At the time of the merger, Virginia Commerce had approximately $2.8 billion in assets, loans of $2.1 billion, and deposits of $2.0 billion.

Adams said the acquisition boosted United's overall assets from $8.7 billion to a record $12 billion.

Also during the year, the company increased its annual dividend from $1.25 to $1.28 a share, its 41st consecutive year of increasing its dividend.

"That is a record only one other major banking company in the United States has been able to achieve," Adams said.

United reported net interest income during the fourth quarter of $102.1 million, a 44 percent increase from the fourth quarter of the year before. For the year, net interest income for the totaled $382 million, up 38 percent from the year before.

The company said it remains well-capitalized, based on regulatory guidelines, and its asset quality has continued to be sound.

United's stock traded up on the earnings news, closing up 24 cents to $34.84 a share in Thursday trading.

With headquarters in Charleston and Washington, D.C., United operates 130 offices and branches in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

Dour picture painted for coal exports http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150129/DM05/150129112 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150129/DM05/150129112 Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:29:40 -0500 By Jared Hunt While exports once helped buoy U.S. coal producers, exporters will face tough international markets for at least three to four years before prices rebound, one expert told a gathering of coal industry officials Thursday.

Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Pennsylvania-based exporting firm Xcoal Energy and Resources, spoke Thursday at the 42nd annual West Virginia Mining Symposium, sponsored by the West Virginia Coal Association and held at the Charleston Civic Center.

So dour was his forecast that at one point he took to referring to himself as "Dr. Doom."

"We've got a lot of things working against us that we don't have any influence on," Thrasher said. "It's going to be, in my view, around three to four years of tough times in the coal industry."

Coal accounts for about half of West Virginia's exports. In the early part of the decade, growth in international coal markets helped push state coal exports to record levels - $5.3 billion in 2011 and $7.4 billion in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But as the market began to soften in 2013, total state coal exports fell 39 percent to about $4.5 billion. Data from 2014 is not yet available.

Thrasher said that while there's still demand for coal worldwide, the problem is just too much supply. That's keeping international prices at depressed levels.

It's not just a coal problem, he said. The same factors are affecting other commodities, including oil, natural gas and iron ore.

"The problem is that there's too much of everything in the world today," Thrasher said.

The current situation is being driven, in part, by the fact that global economic growth is slowing from a 3 to 3.5 percent growth rate of recent years to more of a 2 to 2.5 percent rate now. While it doesn't seem like a big difference, in the context of a massive global economy, 1 percent can account for a lot.

The slowing rate of growth also flies in the face of increased supply from producers.

Thrasher said a series of factors led coal companies to ramp up production and capacity over the past decade.

That included a period of strong global economic growth between 2004 and 2007. Also during that time, China went from a net exporter to net importer of coal.

Thrasher also said extraordinary weather-related events between 2009 and 2012, including avalanches in Canada and floods in Australia, temporarily curtailed production in those coal producing regions, increasing prices and increasing production from other areas.

Also, the extreme financial stimulus from governments and central banks in response to the 2008 financial crisis led companies to make investments in new capacity that they likely would not have done otherwise.

"All of that new production hit the market just as demand started slowing," he said.

Additionally, Australian mines are coming back following the floods there and selling low-priced coal in an effort to regain their market share. Now producers are in a standoff to see who will blink first and cut production.

"Everyone agrees there's too much supply, but no one wants to be the one to cut production," Thrasher said.

As a result, metallurgical coal, which was selling at about $325 a ton in overseas markets less than three years ago, is now selling for about a third of that, near $125 a ton. That's about the lowest price producers have seen since 2005.

Those lower prices, along with higher domestic production costs and a strengthening U.S. dollar, are making U.S. producers uncompetitive.

"You just can't mine coal and sell it at the same price you did in 2005," Thrasher said.

He said many companies will likely have to sell or restructure, or go out of business altogether, in the coming years in light of the expected market conditions.

"If you're patient and have the financial wherewithal, you might be able to weather the next few years," Thrasher said.

He said once the world works through the glut of supply, coal prices should rebound and U.S. producers should return to profitability in export markets.

Also Thursday, Joe Main, head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, spoke to the crowd about continued efforts to improve safety at the nation's coal mines.

Main said several department initiatives that followed the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia, including new regulations, crackdowns on pattern violators and increased enforcement actions, have helped improve safety in the nation's mines.

He said total citations have dropped from 96,352 in 2010 to 62,828 in 2014. Coal mines also set a record low last year for on-the-job fatalities, with 16. But he admitted more work needed to be done.

"At the end of the day, the most important measure of progress is the number of miners that go home at the end of their shifts safely and healthy," Main said. "I think we can all agree we have more work to do to make the mining industry safer and achieve zero fatalities."

Later, he said the true test of the improvements will be if the trends of declining fatalities and violations continue in the future.

"The real question is whether we will be able to sustain the improvements we've made over the years and continue to build upon them," Main said. "Only time will tell.

"The progress we have made in recent years lets us know that greater improvements are possible and we need to work toward that end. We owe our miners that much."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

Obama to seek to bust spending limits by $74 billion http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150129/ARTICLE/150129137 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150129/ARTICLE/150129137 Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:55:49 -0500


Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama will ask Congress to boost government spending by roughly 7 percent above current limits, the White House said Thursday, setting up a certain clash with Republicans who insist that federal spending must be held in check.

Obama's budget, to be formally released Monday, will call for $74 billion more than the levels frozen in place by across-the-board cuts agreed to by both Democrats and Republicans and signed by Obama into law. The White House said his new budget proposals will "fully reverse" the so-called sequestration cuts by increasing spending on both the domestic and military sides by similar amounts.

Under Obama's proposal, national security programs would see an increase of $38 billion over current spending limits, raising the defense budget to $561 billion. On the domestic side, Obama is calling for $530 billion in spending - an increase of $37 billion.

"If Congress rejects my plan and refuses to undo these arbitrary cuts, it will threaten our economy and our military," Obama warned in an op-ed article Thursday in The Huffington Post.

The proposal from the president, two months after voters booted his party from control of the Senate, reflects the White House's newfound confidence in the economy. Obama's aides believe that improving conditions give Obama credibility to push his spending priorities unabashedly - despite the fact that Republicans still believe government spends far too much.

Federal deficits, gas prices and unemployment are all falling, while Obama's poll numbers have crept upward. The president has been newly combative as he argues it's time to ease the harsh measures that were taken to help pull the economy out of recession.

Obama was to promote his proposed spending levels to House Democrats at their annual retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday evening. The White House said his budget will be "fully paid for with cuts to inefficient spending programs and closing tax loopholes," but taxpayers will have to wait until the budget is made public to find out exactly how.

While the proposal to spend more on things like education, sick leave and health care was sure to delight many members of Obama's own party, the Republicans now fully control Congress.

"This is not a surprise," said Don Stewart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's deputy chief of staff. "Previous budgets submitted by the president have purported to reverse the bipartisan spending limits through tax increases that the Congress - even under Democrats - could never accept."

Yet Obama's move also puts Republicans in a precarious position.

Many in the GOP want to spend more on defense, especially in light of threats from terrorism and extremist groups. But Republicans are divided about how to pay. While some have argued for ignoring the spending limits, others want to offset the hikes with cuts to either domestic programs or so-called mandatory programs like Social Security and Medicare.

By proposing to raise defense spending by about the same amount as domestic programs, Obama is putting the GOP on notice that he won't accept cuts to his own priorities just to make way for more spending on national security programs that both parties are in the mood to support.

The Pentagon's base budget is currently $496 billion, plus another $64 billion for overseas missions. Obama's increases would allow for next-generation F-35 fighter jets, for ships and submarines and for long-range Air Force tankers. Military leaders have also said the earlier cuts forced reductions in pilots' flying hours, training and equipment maintenance.

On the domestic side, Obama has proposed two free years of community college and creating new or expanded tax credits for child care and spouses who both work. He's called for raising the top capital gains rate on some wealthy couples and consolidating education tax breaks, although some of those ideas have already faced intense opposition.

"Until he gets serious about solving our long-term spending problem, it's hard to take him seriously," said Cory Fritz, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.

The president's budget proposal is just that - a proposal- and will not become law.

The budget frames Obama's opening offer as Democrats and Republicans head toward an inevitable clash. It's an agenda that Obama started selling in the run-up to his State of the Union address this month, and that House Democrats have sought to echo as they regroup after losing more members in the midterms.

In his meeting Thursday with House Democrats, Obama was also to insist that House Republicans not use a funding bill for the Homeland Security Department to try to quash the executive actions he took late last year on immigration and deportations. The White House called that a "dangerous view" by the GOP that would risk the country's national security.

Jared Hunt column: A look at where those Lottery funds go http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/DM05/150129183 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/DM05/150129183 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:40:45 -0500 West Virginia Lottery officials were set to present their annual budget presentations to the finance committees of the House of Delegates and state Senate this week.

During the budget presentations, Lottery Director John Musgrave planned to present lawmakers with the agency's fiscal year 2014 progress report. The report details not only how much money the Lottery raised and distributed to state agencies in 2014, but since its inception in 1986.

"It's quite impressive what the Lottery has done for the state," Ken Greear, the Lottery Commission's chairman, said of the report during Tuesday's Lottery Commission meeting. "It is phenomenal."

Since 1986, Lottery proceeds have provided more than $8 billion for various state programs tailored to support senior citizens, education and tourism. That includes $2.8 billion to renovate and build new schools through the School Building Authority, as well as upgrading technology and adding more computers to state classrooms.

It also includes $933 million paid to the state Bureau of Senior Services to build senior centers, provide transportation services, Medicaid matching funding and a property tax for seniors. Each year, Lottery proceeds are used to help provide more than 2 million meals to seniors across the state. Last year alone, the Lottery provided $104.8 million to help fund senior programs.

Since limited video lottery sales (the former "gray machines") were introduced in 2002, the Lottery has provided $312.5 million to fund the state's Promise Scholarship Fund. The Lottery provides $29 million in limited video lottery funds each year to help fund the program.

Since the Lottery introduced its "Veterans' Cash" scratch-off game in 2000, the Lottery has provided more than $15 million in funds for veterans projects. That includes $1 million each year to support a skilled nursing facility and veterans cemetery.

Also since 1986, the Lottery has provided more than $858 million to boost state tourism. That includes funds for the State Park Improvement Fund to improve lodges, cabins and other recreational facilities in the State Parks System.

In the 2014 fiscal year, the Lottery recorded gross sales of $1.23 billion - the 12th consecutive year with sales greater than $1 billion. For the last decade, the Lottery has generated nearly $14.3 billion in sales. Not all of that goes to the state though; roughly half goes to retailers and players in the form of commissions and prizes.

For the 2014 fiscal year, $559.7 million was paid in commissions with $111.8 million paid to prize winners. The Lottery distributed $498.4 million to state programs and another $7.4 million to municipalities and counties last year.

Of its total revenue, the largest amount - $590.9 million - came from racetrack video lottery, a total that has declined from nearly $1 billion in 2007 due to out-of-state competition. Another $377.2 million came from limited video lottery games, $105.6 million was generated from scratch-off tickets, $83.1 came from online games (Daily 3, Daily 4, Powerball, Mega Millions, etc.), $57.5 million came from table games and gambling at The Greenbrier and $11.7 was generated from licensing and permitting.

Counties and municipalities, which receive 2 percent of gross profits from limited video lottery machines, received nearly $4.4 million from limited video lottery proceeds during the last fiscal year. Of that, Kanawha County (which at $31.2 million had the highest limited video lottery sales for the year) received nearly $294,965.99, Putnam County received $132,178.20, Raleigh County received $217,848.10, Fayette County received $69,657.21, Boone County received $49,181.50, Jackson County received $57,130.90, Lincoln County received $13,409.98, Clay County received $13,759.59 and Roane County received $7,657.09.

New Courtyard by Marriott opens on Kanawha Boulevard http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/DM05/150129185 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/DM05/150129185 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:03:09 -0500 Officials say Boulevard hotel designed with business travelers in mind



Charleston's new Courtyard by Marriott officially is open for business.

The new 119-room hotel, located at 100 Kanawha Blvd. E. along the Elk River, opened its doors to guests this week. The hotel, the third Courtyard by Marriott in West Virginia, was built by developers at Virginia Inn Management.

The hotel was set to open Tuesday, but General Manager Deborah Wall said when the owners and Marriott representatives toured the building Monday afternoon, they decided to let the staff open the hotel that evening at 6 p.m. Even though there was no announcement the hotel was open, Wall said the hotel ended up booking a few guests who just happened to drive in off the street.

"We had three rooms booked that first night," Wall said.

On Tuesday - the first official night for which rooms could have been booked in advance - the hotel's rooms were completely sold out and guests were milling around the lobby taking in the hotel's features.

"It was packed," Wall said. "There were people from wall-to-wall eating and ordering from the bar. We were just thrilled."

Wall said Courtyard by Marriott is designed with the business traveler in mind.

The first floor features a spacious lobby area with computer pods and several seating areas for people to have "pop-up meetings" or relax and work on projects. In addition to having complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the building, lobby furniture is equipped with built-in outlets so people can keep their various devices powered up as they work.

"It's very geared toward technology and keeping people connected," said Holly Wills, hotel sales manager.

The lobby also features a casual dining area known as "The Bistro," which serves coffee and prepares made-to-order food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In the mornings, guests can order various breakfasts dishes that include oatmeal, eggs, bacon, sausage, turkey sausage and potatoes. For lunch and dinner, cooks can prepare sandwiches like a turkey Reuben, French dip or turkey BLT, appetizers like chicken and spinach flatbread, chicken wings or shrimp pot stickers or seasonal specials like BBQ ribs.

While The Bistro brews Starbucks-brand coffee during the day, at night it serves up a variety of adult beverages, including various wines, cocktails and beers.

All rooms feature coffee makers, glass cups, flat-screen TVs, desks with computer connections and hairdryers, as well as wall-mounted thermostats for controlling heating and cooling.

The rooms feature queen or king-sized beds in one of three designs: a basic room, an extended room and suites.

Regular rooms feature the standard amenities and feature a standing shower with glass door design. Extended rooms have an additional seating area with a couch and additional flat-screen TV. Suites feature a separate living room with couch, desk and bar sink, in addition to the bedroom.

The hotel also takes advantage of its location along the Elk River with an extended patio and courtyard overlooking the river. It comes complete with a fire pit that hotel staff light at night.

Wall said guests took advantage of the fire pit during the chilly Tuesday evening.

"At night it is absolutely beautiful with the fire going and the river in the background," she said.

As they enter the hotel, guests can see the "GoBoard," a 55-inch LCD interactive touch screen that provides information about flights, weather, hotel features and restaurants and other attractions in Charleston. The background of the GoBoard features day and night pictures of the state Capitol.

When The Bistro is not open, guests can visit "The Market," a 24-hour shop stocked with candy, soft drinks, beer, wine, microwaveable meals, toiletries and grab-and-go salads and sandwiches.

The hotel also features a 24-hour fitness center complete with dumbbells along with two treadmills, two ellipticals and a stationary bike - all of which have small TVs mounted on them. The fitness center is located next to the hotel's indoor pool.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

Kanawha City Kroger to get $4 million remodel http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/DM01/150129193 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/DM01/150129193 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:28:08 -0500 By Matt Murphy The Kroger in Kanawha City will be the next of the chain's stores in the Charleston area to get a facelift.

Within the last week or so, some of the decorative fixtures on the interior of the 64,000-square-foot store have been taken down, and two signs informing customers of the renovation have been placed near the customer service counter.

Kroger spokeswoman Allison McGee said the company is spending about $4 million on the project. The store will not close during construction.

The remodeled store, located at 5717 MacCorkle Ave. SE, will have decor similar to the current set-up at the Ashton Place Kroger in Charleston.

Construction is planned to be finished by the third quarter of this year.

Besides decor upgrades, the floor will be repaired and replaced, the "perishable departments" will be updated, the floral department will move to near the entrance and the frozen food section will be expanded.

Also, the pharmacy will receive upgrades, new refrigerated cases and shelves will be installed and the exterior and signs will be upgraded.

The Kanawha City Kroger was opened in April 1984 and was one of the first in the area to use the "superstore" concept, according to Daily Mail archives. It replaced an older store at 3801 MacCorkle Ave. SE - the current location of the Kanawha City Rite Aid.

Two other "superstores" had also just opened in the Kanawha Valley at the time: Cross Lanes in 1983 and St. Albans earlier in 1984.

In 1999, the Kanawha City Kroger received a $5 million expansion and renovation that gave it a salad bar and in-store Blockbuster Video store.

The gas station was added in 2001.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at 304-348-4817 or matt.murphy@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on Twitter @DMLocalGov.

Oil-price drop threatens to undercut Obama's clean-energy legacy http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129223 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129223 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:11:16 -0500

Jeff Plungis and Mark Drajem

(c) 2015, Bloomberg News.

WASHINGTON - The benefits of cheap oil may come at a steep price for President Barack Obama's climate-change initiatives.

Some of Obama's most cherished achievements -- cars on the road that burn less gasoline, reductions in greenhouse gases and a plan to cut emissions from power plants -- are at risk as plummeting energy prices thwart policies meant to force the nation to think greener.

Last year's 33 percent drop in gasoline prices already has automakers laying the groundwork to challenge more stringent fuel economy targets for new cars. The oil industry says a decline in its oil revenue means it can't afford new climate regulations. Even solar-equipment makers are seeing share prices fall on fears inexpensive natural gas will erode demand.

"We are awash in cheap fossil fuels in a way that was unimaginable five years ago," said Michael Greenstone, an economics professor at the University of Chicago who was once the chief economist for Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. "That's going to make the president's climate plan -- and anyone's climate plan -- more difficult to achieve."

Data show consumers gravitating back to the pickup trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles they shunned when gasoline was $3 or more a gallon. Automakers had been counting on sustained demand for fuel-efficient cars such as hybrid and electric models to meet Obama's mandate for a nationwide average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon.

Cheap gas "adds an additional challenge to what is already an aggressive standard," said Ed Cohen, vice president of government and industry relations for Honda Motor Co.'s North American unit.

The same can be said for renewable fuels. The Bloomberg Global Large Solar Index of 21 companies that sell solar-energy products -- which are now competing against falling electricity rates -- has sunk 39 percent in the 12 months through Jan. 27.

The Environmental Protection Agency's plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by pushing the companies to embrace renewable and other "clean" energy sources would now be a more expensive undertaking relative to using traditional fossil fuels, said Philip Wallach, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

In fact, the Energy Information Administration has already begun backtracking on predictions that U.S. carbon emissions would fall this year and next, saying Jan. 13 that it now expects to see an increase in the pollutants, citing a drop in prices that will spur greater use.

Perry Lindstrom, an EIA analyst, singled out natural gas as one reason, where futures prices in New York are the lowest since 2012.

"It is driving a lot of the industrial sector resurgence," Lindstrom said in an e-mail. That in turn is driving increases in energy use.

There is at least one silver lining. The drop in natural gas prices makes it easier for power plants to replace coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel, with the relatively cleaner gas.

The good-news, bad-news contradictions of lower energy prices were on full display in Michigan this month. Obama used a Ford Motor Co. factory as a backdrop Jan. 6, saying the U.S. economic revival is real.

A week later, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, General Motors Co. unveiled a 640-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V.

The sedan would be the most powerful car ever sold by the Cadillac luxury brand. That won't help GM to meet the terms of a 2012 deal the industry struck with the Obama administration to gradually boost the overall average fuel economy of their vehicle fleets to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Emphasizing pickups and more powerful vehicles risks remaking the mistakes of the past decade, said Daniel Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, a proponent of regulations requiring higher-mileage cars. When gas prices shot up then, truck-heavy GM and Chrysler Group were forced to restructure under government-financed bankruptcies after being stuck with too many unsold gas guzzlers as consumers shifted to more fuel-efficient cars.

"It's both a bad business strategy and poor return on the taxpayers' investment," Becker said.

When the automakers agreed to the new fuel economy requirements, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was about $3.97 in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The price for regular gasoline fell below $2.10 this month for the first time since May 2009, according to the automobile- travel association known as AAA.

"Thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump," Obama said to applause at his State of the Union speech to Congress a week ago.

For Obama, climate change is among the issues that defined his two successful runs for the White House. In 2013, he pledged the first regulations limiting greenhouse gases from power plants, a cut in U.S. government financing for overseas coal plants and accelerated progress on efficiency standards for everything from microwave ovens to walk-in freezers.

His administration also has allocated billions of dollars for clean energy and green-lighted renewable-energy projects on public land. A combination of federal and state policies, not oil or gas prices, may hold the key to whether those cleaner sources continue to gain market share.

The turnabout in energy prices makes Obama's plans to address climate change all the more important, said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. The president has pledged that the nation would cut greenhouse emissions 17 percent by 2020.

The administration isn't willing to ease off the fuel economy standards and sees the situation "as a long-term investment" for the industry, she said.

"Everybody is cognizant that oil prices fluctuate," McCarthy told reporters Jan. 16 in Washington. "We don't think the low fuel price is going to be the basis of significant changes going forward."

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery closed at $46.23 Tuesday in New York Mercantile Exchange trading, near its lowest level since 2009.

The oil and gas industry may also seek some relief from emissions targets. Falling prices were cited as a reason why the oil industry won't be able to comply with new mandates from the EPA to reduce methane emissions.

"The fact that there is no price tag associated with the administration's proposal is cause for serious concerns, at a time where America's oil and natural gas production industry is experiencing significant uncertainty," Lee Fuller, executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said in a statement Jan. 14.

Automakers, too, who agreed to fuel economy standards in 2012, may mount a challenge during a midyear review of the program's assumptions for 2017, according to Adam Jonas, a Morgan Stanley analyst.

"If gasoline prices were to stay anywhere remotely near a $2 to $3 range, consumers will have little economic urgency to purchase expensive technologies required," Jonas wrote in a Jan. 7 research note.

Toyota Motor Corp. is focused on the midyear review, and expects a re-evaluation of some projections for alternative fuel infrastructure, electric-vehicle sales, improvements in battery technology and engine improvements, said Rick Gezelle, a Toyota national manager for technical and regulatory affairs based in Washington.

Companies will want a robust conversation about all of the assumptions made in 2011 and 2012 about what the world would look like in 2025, Gezelle said.

"Consumers are going to want economic payback," Gezelle said. "It's harder to achieve that with low fuel prices."

Ford said it remains committed to small cars because no one can predict how long gas will remain cheap. In 2008, the Focus sedan was so popular, it sold out.

"Consumers believe gas prices will rise over time, and so do we," Joseph Hinrichs, a Ford executive vice president, said at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit Jan. 14.

CAMC sets date for public dedication of Cancer Center http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/DM01/150129233 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/DM01/150129233 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:01:55 -0500 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith Dedication of the new Charleston Area Medical Center Cancer Center is set for April 17 and 18, said David Ramsey, CAMC president and chief executive officer.

While details are yet to be announced, plans call for CAMC employees to tour the new center on April 17 while the new facility is to be open to the general public noon to 4 p.m. April 18.

The upcoming event was announced on Wednesday morning during the regular monthly meeting of the CAMC Board of Trustees.

The 110,000-square-foot, $50 million facility will house the David Lee Cancer Center, CAMC Breast Center and Charleston Radiology Therapy Consultants. Construction began in July of 2013.

Ramsey added that for the second consecutive year, CAMC was named among the nation's top 5 percent of hospitals for overall clinical excellence by Healthgrades. The national health care ratings company made the determination due to an independent study of mortality and complication rates for about 4,500 hospitals. CAMC is the only hospital in West Virginia and one of 261 hospitals nationwide to receive the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence. Go to healthgrades.com/quality for more information about the award.

A question was raised regarding a recent newspaper article naming hospitals that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found to have high rates of potentially avoidable "hospital acquired conditions" due to things such as falls, bed sores and some infections. Each hospital received a score of 1 to 10 with the lowest number being the best score. CAMC received a 9.

Dale Wood, chief quality officer for CAMC, said looking at a particular category can be misleading. While there is always room for improvement, he noted that CAMC often gets patients that are the sickest. For example, patients are frequently transported from other facilities where central lines and catheters have already been placed.

"We are still in the top 5 percent in clinical outcomes," Wood said.

Wood also stepped in to present reports on behalf of the quality committee for Ed Welch, University of Charleston president and head of that committee. He said Welch was unable to attend Wednesday's meeting due to an accident in which he suffered a broken rib.

Wood gave good reports regarding patient care and safety, but added health officials are always striving to improve.

"Each hospital looks at multiple areas in efforts to strive for the highest performance," he said.

In other business, Karen Price, chair of the planning and public policy committee, asked the board to support legislation requiring a prescription for medications containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making methamphetamine. She cited reports showing steep declines in meth labs in other states that have enacted such laws.

Meanwhile, the board approved a bylaw amendment that would include psychologists with doctoral degrees and podiatrists as full voting members of the medical staff.

Several CAMC staff members were presented with "Heart and Soul" awards by Ramsey for going above the call of duty in patient care.

A group from Memorial Hospital who dubbed themselves "the dream team" helped coordinate complicated care for an employee's daughter while the staff member attended a funeral. Employees recognized and their respective departments included Denny Jones, food services director; Mark James, respiratory care; and Kara Garren and Margaret Graley, both clinical dietitians.

Melissa Appleton, a nurse at Women and Children's Hospital, was recognized for her efforts in working with pediatric cancer patients and their families. Aside from medical care, she often is found spending time with families after work hours to offer emotional support, Ramsey said.

"I am really blessed to take care of these kids," Appleton said.

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlotte@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1246.

W.Va. water company seeks environmental applications http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129245 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129245 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:41:58 -0500

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia American Water is accepting applications for its 2015 environmental grant program.

Individual grants of up to $10,000 are up for grabs for innovative, community-based environmental projects. They should improve, restore or protect watersheds, surface water or groundwater supplies through partnerships within West Virginia American Water's 19-county service area.

Watershed protection activities, biodiversity projects and hazardous waste collection efforts are a few examples of eligible projects.

Applications must be postmarked by March 13. Recipients will be notified in April 2015.

In 2014, a total of 45 projects throughout American Water's service areas in 11 states were awarded grants totaling more than $185,000.

More information can be found by visiting www.westvirginiaamwater.com.

FirstEnergy Corp. says it invested $198m in W.Va. utility http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129246 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129246 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:39:58 -0500

FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) - FirstEnergy Corp. says it invested $198 million last year in the Mon Power service area.

The investments included building new transmission lines and substations and installing remote-control equipment to reduce the number and duration of power failures.

Approximately $65 million of the total was spent on transmission-related projects owned by the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company, a FirstEnergy transmission company.

Holly Kauffman is president of FirstEnergy's West Virginia operations. She said the investments are intended to enhance day-to-day service reliability for its customers.

Mon Power serves about 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties.

Concert Technologies to open office in Martinsburg http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129250 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129250 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:35:17 -0500

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - Concert Technologies is opening an office in downtown Martinsburg that will employ 48 workers.

The company says the new office will support its technology rollout operations.

Based in Dulles, Virginia, Concert Technologies delivers technology rollouts for the federal government and commercial and international organizations.

The Journal reports that Concert Technologies announced the expansion on Tuesday.

Google fiber optic heads south http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129255 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150128/ARTICLE/150129255 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:11:49 -0500


The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Google said Tuesday it has selected four metro areas in the Southeast to receive its fiber optic service that can deliver Internet speeds at more than 50 times the national broadband average.

The company said it will bring gigabit-speed service to Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta; and Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte in North Carolina. Google officials said five Western cities previously identified as finalists remain in the running for fiber down the line.

"We had four cities here in the Southeast that were ready to go," said Kevin Lo, Google's general manager for fiber services. "I want to be really clear that this is not 'no' to anybody for the other five metro areas."

The other five cities in the running are Phoenix; Salt Lake City; San Jose, California; Portland, Oregon; and San Antonio.

Google Fiber boasts that its service can download an entire movie in less than two minutes and that it has vast potential in business, science and education.

Lo cited the example of a geneticist in Provo, Utah, who can download an entire human genome, or about 200 gigabytes worth of data, via Google Fiber in less than half an hour. That compares with 77 hours at traditional broadband speeds.

"The next chapter of the Internet will be written at gigabit speeds," Lo said.

Launched as an experimental project in 2010, Google Fiber is available in Provo; Kansas City, Missouri; Kansas City, Kansas; and Austin, Texas.

Google is hoping the competition will prod existing Internet service providers such as Comcast, Verizon Communications and AT&T Inc. to upgrade their networks so they can run at faster speeds. Google figures it would still benefit in that scenario if the improvements to rival networks spur more Web surfing.

Prices for Google Fiber are comparable to or below what most households already pay. For example, in the two Kansas City markets, Google Fiber charges about $70 per month for just high-speed Internet service, or $120 for an Internet and TV package.

Lo declined to say when the service would be available to customers in the new cities, but officials in Charlotte said they hope the work to be complete within the next two years.

President Barack Obama earlier this month urged greater access to faster Internet speeds as a way to create jobs and make local businesses more competitive in the global economy.

The president is calling for a repeal of restrictions on local communities creating their own broadband networks, a stance at odds with major cable and telephone companies that often provide Internet service with little competition.

Obama has also angered the industry by calling for new Federal Communications Commission rules that treat Internet service providers as public utilities.

Lottery to revamp website http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150127/DM05/150129284 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150127/DM05/150129284 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 21:34:14 -0500 By Jared Hunt The West Virginia Lottery is planning to revamp its website next month to help streamline the regular application processes for casino employees and retailers and to also better educate the public about the Lottery's games and where its revenue goes.

Lottery Marketing Director Nikki Orcutt said the new website is expected to launch Feb. 17.

"I think our users will find the new WVLottery.com interesting," she said.

The new website will be designed with interactive features and videos to help people better understand the Lottery's various games. The site will also be compatible with mobile devices, so users can more easily navigate it on their smartphone or tablet.

Lottery Director John Musgrave said the agency's licensing staff is also working on ways to use the website to process some of the regular applications and license renewals that the Lottery is required to administer each year. One of those would include the annual licensing and permits for the 2,300 casino employees working across the state.

"We'll make it so that everybody doesn't have to fill out four or five pages by hand and then mail that off to our headquarters and process that," Musgrave said. "We think that's going to be an excellent move for the Lottery and also for those folks that we license."

From a marketing perspective, Orcutt said the agency is focusing on providing interactive educational tutorials about the Lottery's games and what programs benefit from the money those games generate.

She said many people don't play lottery games because they don't understand how they work or can't keep track of the days when drawings occur.

"We get a lot of feedback from the general public saying, 'Well I don't play because I don't know how,' or that maybe they think it's too hard or it's intimidating," Orcutt said.

Some of the features the agency is planning to roll out include an interactive demo for a scratch-off game, that would show people how read a ticket and understand it's a winner.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Lottery Finance Director Dean Patrick told members of the Lottery Commission the Lottery generated nearly $96 million in revenue in December, down from $98.3 million it recorded in December 2013.

Limited video lottery sales were up from $30.8 million to $31.5 million on a year-over-year basis, but that was offset by lower performance in racetrack video lottery and online ticket games.

While it was down from the year before, December's revenue was nearly $8.5 million ahead of forecasts for the month.

For the first six months of the budget year, which began July 1, the Lottery logged $582.4 million in revenue, more than $41 million ahead of forecasts.

"Even though revenue is down, we will meet or exceed our projections to the governor and the Legislature for this fiscal year," Musgrave said.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

West Virginia, Ohio visitors seek guidance in North Dakota http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150127/ARTICLE/150129353 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150127/ARTICLE/150129353 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:08:22 -0500 MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Government and economic development leaders from West Virginia and Ohio are visiting northwestern North Dakota to see firsthand what it's like to deal with an energy boom.

The residents from Parkersburg and Vienna, West Virginia, and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio, hope to apply lessons from Minot and Williston to what the mid-Ohio Valley will experience if and when an anticipated ethane cracker plant is built there. Such plants convert ethane from shale oil and natural gas into chemicals used to produce plastics, fertilizer and other products.

The 13 officials arrived in Minot on Sunday night and were touring and visiting with officials through Tuesday, the Minot Daily News reported.

In Williston, the population has doubled since 2010 and the city's physical size has tripled. In Minot, on the eastern edge of the patch, the population grew 12 percent between 2000 and 2010, most of it in the latter part of the decade.

"Make sure you look far ahead enough," Minot City Engineer Lance Meyer told the visitors while discussing long-range infrastructure planning. Minot has identified nearly $815 million in needed water, sewer, transportation, airport, landfill, buildings and flood control projects through 2019, he said.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said his region already is seeing growth due to fracking in the oil and gas fields just to the east of his community. That growth will increase significantly if the $4 billion petrochemical complex is built. The project is expected to create thousands of jobs during construction and hundreds when operating, as well as generate jobs in related and supporting businesses.

"They are already building more hotels now than they have in a century in and around our city," Newell said. "We are experiencing some growth already. We want to get ready for the bigger growth."

Fed to be 'patient' in interest rate raise http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150127/ARTICLE/150129370 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150127/ARTICLE/150129370 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 07:57:53 -0500


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve ended 2014 with a pledge to be "patient" in raising interest rates from record lows. The way things are going, its patience may endure for a long while.

Though the U.S. economy has steadily improved, inflation has dipped further below the Fed's target rate. Chalk it up to plunging oil prices and a surging dollar, which makes foreign goods cheaper in the United States.

Complicating the Fed's timetable is the European Central Bank's just-announced plan to pump 1 trillion-plus euros into its ailing economy. That flood of cash should keep the eurozone's rates ultra-low. Many investors may respond by shifting into higher-yielding U.S. Treasurys. That would strengthen the dollar even more and could push U.S. inflation further below the Fed's 2 percent target.

Under that scenario, the Fed might find it hard to justify a rate hike, which risks weakening the economy and slowing inflation further. As the Fed meets this week, some economists who had predicted a rate increase by June now think September might be more realistic.

"The Fed has every reason to continue to be patient," said David Wyss, an economics professor at Brown University. "Standing pat is the best thing to do right now."

In a statement it will issue when its meeting ends Wednesday, the Fed is expected to repeat phrasing it introduced in December: That it "can be patient" in starting to raise its key short-term rate, which the Fed has held near zero since December 2008.

Even before the ECB acted last week, anticipation of its move had helped cut the euro's value to a decade-long low against the U.S. dollar. The dollar is also being driven up by strengthening U.S. economic growth.

The plunge in world oil prices, which have fallen 60 percent since June, has kept inflation historically low in recent months. But U.S. inflation has been unusually low since the Great Recession began eliminating more than 8 million jobs and slowing consumer spending, home buying and manufacturing output.

The U.S. economy is now growing at a consistently solid pace. Job growth has accelerated, with the economy having added nearly 3 million jobs last year - enough to cut the unemployment rate to 5.6 percent, the lowest level since 2008 and barely above the Fed's goal of 5.2 percent to 5.5 percent.

But Fed officials, including Chair Janet Yellen, have pointed to other factors - such as weak pay growth and a still-high number of part-time workers who can't find full-time jobs - as evidence that more must be done to achieve a healthy job market.

The factor that may be giving the Fed the most pause about a rate hike is excessively low inflation. Prices rose just 1.2 percent in the 12 months that ended in November, according to the Fed's preferred gauge of inflation. When inflation is too low, consumer spending can slow as people delay purchases on the assumption that the same or lower prices will be available later. The biggest fear is deflation - a broad decline in prices and income that can further restrain spending and even tip an economy into recession.

Yellen, who succeeded Ben Bernanke a year ago, has shown she is in command of Fed policy, backed by a majority of officials. Scattered dissenting votes against the Fed's policy statements have come primarily from a minority faction of "hawks." These are officials who think the Fed is raising the risk of future high inflation or asset bubbles by keeping rates so low for so long.

But two of the most vocal hawks, Charles Plosser, head of the Fed's regional bank in Philadelphia, and Richard Fisher, his counterpart in Dallas, no longer have votes this year under the rotation system for Fed bank presidents. Both are retiring from the Fed in March.

The new set of voters lean mainly to the "dovish" camp of officials who think the biggest worry right now is a still less-than-fully-healthy economy and too-low inflation.

"Yellen will still be very much in control," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.

At her December news conference, Yellen said the use of the word "patient" in describing the timing of a rate hike meant there would be no increase for at least the next couple of meetings. If that rule holds, it would rule out a rate hike at the Fed's March and April meetings. The next meeting after that is June 16-17.

Economist David Jones, author of several books on the Fed, says June is still his bet for the first rate move. He also warns that despite the Fed's efforts to telegraph its intentions, the first rate hike will almost certainly roil financial markets.

"We have already seen a significant amount of volatility in the stock market, and I think we will see more," Jones said.

Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands, thinks continued lower-than-optimal inflation will cause the Fed to delay hiking rates until September or possibly not until year's end.

"My question is, what's the rush?" Sohn said. "We are not running a lot of additional risks by keeping rates low, while if they raise rates prematurely they could derail economic growth."

Few local flights affected by storm http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150126/DM05/150129391 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150126/DM05/150129391 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 21:29:15 -0500 By Jared Hunt The massive winter storm bearing down on the East Coast this week has so far not affected many flights departing Yeager Airport, but airport officials are advising travelers to check the status of their connecting flights before flying out of Charleston.

With some areas of New York and Massachusetts expected to get as much as 30 inches of snow through Wednesday morning, national airlines already have canceled thousands of flights heading to and from the busy hubs in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, airlines had canceled nearly 7,300 flights - 3,089 on Monday, 3,926 on Tuesday and 275 on Wednesday - according to FlightAware.com.

Yeager Airport spokesman Brian Belcher said the airport's regular U.S. Airways flight to Philadelphia was able to fly as normal on Monday. However, the airline's Tuesday flight was canceled. A Monday evening flight to Reagan National Airport near Washington D.C., also was canceled due to weather.

Belcher said the airport didn't have any direct flights to airports in New York and Boston, which will be most affected by this week's storms. However, he did say many people use the airport's flights to Charlotte, N.C., or Washington, D.C., to catch connecting flights to the northeast seaboard.

While the flights out of Yeager Airport may be departing without problems, he said travelers should check the status of their connecting flight before they leave in order to avoid getting stranded at the connecting flight's airport.

"If you're traveling in that direction, then I would say I would be looking for options, either to delay your travel there or cancel your trip," Belcher said.

Belcher said many of the airlines are waiving the fees to change flight plans in response to the storm.

Though the storm will have a massive effect on air travel in the New England states, Belcher did not anticipate any real ripple effects to the rest of the country's air travel system as a result of the storm.

He said airlines have been preparing for the storm for days and have moved planes out of the region ahead of the storm.

"What the airlines have started doing in the past couple years is try to get all the planes they can out of the area of a storm and put them at hubs or other airports," he said. "So they've been preemptively placing them ahead of time."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

W.Va. to release draft natural gas air permit Feb. 5 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150126/ARTICLE/150129462 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150126/ARTICLE/150129462 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 08:35:08 -0500

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A draft of a new state air quality permit for natural gas activities will be released next month.

The West Virginia Division of Air Quality's new G80-A general permit would cover control and prevention of air pollution related to natural gas production, compressor and/or dehydration facilities.

The division plans to release the draft Feb. 5 at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's headquarters in Charleston. A general overview will be provided during a morning session. More technical information will be provided during an afternoon session.

The DEP says two existing air quality permits covering natural gas activities will continue. But future registrations, modifications or administrative updates won't be allowed. Modification of an existing registration covered by these permits will have to be done under the new permit.

John Burdette column: The value of taking a 'Snow Day' http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150126/DM05/150129482 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150126/DM05/150129482 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 00:01:00 -0500 As I write this, I am looking out a large picture window into a sea of trees coated with fresh fallen snow. We have yet to have a large snowstorm this year, but this dusting almost has me wishing for a deep blanket that would give us all a reason to take an unexpected break from our daily routine.

The stillness a deep snow provides can be a perfect time to concentrate on what matters most to you, without the usual interruptions of the day. It's far too easy to let the noise of life disperse our focus onto items that don't move us toward the goals we hope to achieve. This is true in all areas of life, and certainly in our financial lives.

Each week, I meet with 10 to 15 clients or prospective clients to help them manage their investments and develop strategies to help them reach their financial goals. I would never need to watch TV or read the newspaper to know what the headlines are based on these conversations.

For instance, last week I heard concerns from the State of the Union to collapsing oil prices as reasons to hesitate to invest. I hear things like, "Is now a good time with _____ going on?" or, "I really don't like what's going on in Washington, D.C. I don't think it's wise to invest now."

I believe focusing on any array of these newsworthy items and allowing them to alter your actions toward your goal is a mistake. Let's allow ourselves a "snow day" to really think about what's important long-term to our investments and what's simply a passing distraction.

A chart of the market over the past 100 years tells a story of unimaginable investment success. Why has it progressed through world wars, depressions, scandals and political rancor? To be sure, events can and do affect the markets for short periods of time. But what is it that allows it to recover and reach new highs every time?

In my opinion, the answer lies in the creative wonder of the human spirit and the desire to continually raise our quality of life.

Even in the darkest days of the Great Depression, these creative fires were burning. They were burning in board rooms, laboratories and garages as people worked to serve the needs of current and future customers. For instance, in the 1930s, synthetic fibers and plastics were introduced, as well as a little item called the television. It is not difficult to imagine the investment opportunities that sprung from these new creations.

How many abandoned the markets after the turmoil of 2008? Will there be market downturns in the future? Of course there will be.

When you feel uneasy about your investments, take a "snow day" and focus on the progress that is constantly improving our quality of life rather than the sour news in the headlines. Don't allow events outside of your control shape your future.

If you maintain a proper investment allocation that serves both your short-term needs and long-term goals, the daily news is much less important than the long-term opportunities presented by the quickening pace of progress.

John Burdette is a financial adviser at Fourth Avenue Financial in South Charleston.

Disclaimer: Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corp. (NPC), member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fourth Avenue Financial and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.

Contest to recognize agricultural innovation http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150125/DM05/150129479 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150125/DM05/150129479 Sun, 25 Jan 2015 20:19:26 -0500 West Virginia agricultural entrepreneurs have a chance to win a more than $10,000 business assistance package through a new contest sponsored by the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing.

The West Virginia Vanguard Agriculture Competition will honor innovation and ingenuity in agriculture, recognizing an entrepreneur whose idea has the greatest potential to solve logistical challenges in the local food supply chain. It is open to West Virginia residents or out-of-state residents attending West Virginia colleges or universities.

The contest is part of the institute's Agricultural Innovations program, an initiative to improve opportunities for the state's farming and agricultural economy.

"The entrepreneurs we assist day in and day out at our Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centers clearly demonstrate there is no shortage of innovation in West Virginia," said Charlotte Weber, the institute's director and CEO. "This competition is a way to reward home-grown innovation in our agricultural sector as we work together to build a more efficient and sustainable food supply chain."

The winner will receive assistance with product design and development, logo creation and marketing, patent and copyright applications, business development planning, funding opportunities and business incubator space.

Those interested may apply online at www.rcbi.org/wvvanguardag. For more information, call 800-469-7224.

Magazine, center sponsor small business breakfast http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150125/DM05/150129480 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150125/DM05/150129480 Sun, 25 Jan 2015 20:19:15 -0500 West Virginia Focus magazine and the West Virginia Small Business Development Center will host a networking breakfast Feb. 3 at the Four Points by Sheraton in Charleston to discuss the challenges small businesses face and the tools to overcome them.

Speakers will include development center director Kristina Oliver and Terry Cyfers, a serial entrepreneur and business coach with the center. With over a combined 50 years of experience in entrepreneurship and business development, Oliver and Cyfers will speak about the importance of owning a small business in our state and the tools that are available to support small businesses.

The event is open to anyone interested in entrepreneurship and business development. Registration is $10 and can be made at wvfocus.com. The breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m.

Anyone with questions can call 304-413-0104.