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New Designation for Raleigh County Region Means 14 WV Counties are AEROready Certified Communities - With More on the Way

BECKLEY, W.Va., November 4, 2019 – The seven-county region surrounding Raleigh County Memorial Regional Airport today received certification as an AEROready community. AEROready certification involves a deep analysis of property, labor, education and infrastructure to ensure a region has the capacity to support the aerospace industry. The Raleigh County Memorial Airport analysis included the New River Gorge counties of Raleigh, Fayette, Summers and Nicholas, plus Wyoming, Mercer and McDowell counties.

Consultants Tucson Atlantic Consulting and Common Sense Economic Development led the certification process, which was funded by Appalachian Power, according to John Smolak, Appalachian Power economic development director. The AEROready studies are part of the company’s West Virginia Advantage Plan, which is providing $1 million in funding to economic development projects across the company’s service area. Appalachian Power also funded an initial site readiness study by InSite Consulting for the New River Gorge Region.

“Appalachian Power is dedicated to providing resources to assist our communities in attracting and retaining industry,” said Brad Hall, Appalachian Power’s external affairs vice president. “These aerospace programs have the potential to bring high-wage jobs to the region. We are appreciative of the collaboration with our local partners as we all work to create a better future for West Virginia.”

Starting this week, a six-county region around the Yeager Airport in Charleston will be analyzed for certification. Earlier this fall, a three-county area around the Greenbrier Valley Airport received its AEROready certification. Both of these certification efforts also were funded by Appalachian Power’s West Virginia Advantage Plan.

Previously, the four counties surrounding Huntington’s Tri-State Airport were certified as AEROready, so a total of 14 counties in the state have the coveted certification. With the addition of the Yeager area counties, that will bring the total number of counties certified as AEROready in the state to 20 and the number of commercial airports to four.

The certification process helps area economic developers determine whether to target aerospace industries and it provides those industries with a wealth of data they can use to make decisions about where to locate.

Appalachian Power has 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is part of American Electric Power, which is focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions. AEP’s more than 17,000 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 219,000 miles of distribution lines to efficiently deliver safe, reliable power to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. AEP is also one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 32,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including 4,300 megawatts of renewable energy.