Amendments offered late last week to HB 2815 would transfer ownership and management of the WV Regional Technology Park in South Charleston to Marshall University. While partnerships and collaboration with higher education institutions specifically in the area of research and commercialization, are embraced by the Park, and have always been part of the vision for the Park, the Charleston Regional Chamber is concerned that such a rushed and dramatic shift has been proposed without the benefit of collective planning and due diligence to analyze the proposed change.
With only days left in the session, it would not be responsible for the legislature to pass HB 2815 in its current form. There has been no opportunity for planning with those involved with Park operations, marketing, and strategy, including the Park Board of Directors. The goal of the Technology Park is to create new jobs and capital investment focused around innovation and the commercialization of new technology. This requires collaboration and partnerships with all institutions of higher learning. These types of decisions are significant and should be given proper time to be thoughtfully considered.
Great things are happening at the Tech Park. The WV Regional Technology Park is a tremendous intellectual and physical asset to the Kanawha Valley and ALL of West Virginia. Employees from 17 of our 55 West Virginia counties are employed at the Park. Great things can continue to happen there in the future with our colleagues at Marshall University and other institutions of higher education such as West Virginia State University, which currently has research activities at the Tech Park. However, the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce has no choice at this late hour other than to oppose HB 2815 with these current provisions inserted that could stifle collaboration and growth at the Tech Park.
The Charleston Chamber stands ready to offer its support and assistance in working with all parties in the future to determine if the ideas within this policy might prove to be beneficial to long term growth at the Tech Park.