The opportunity to make the city of Hinton and the four-county region of Summers, Raleigh, Fayette and Nicholas counties more attractive and viable business locations has brought one of the areas former residents home.

Chad Wykle, a native of Hinton, became the new West Virginia University Extension Agent for that area this month. His primary focus will be on a newly created assignment: discovering economic development opportunities and helping existing businesses succeed. He will be based at the WVU Extension Service office in Summers County.

The idea for the position was the result of a WVU Community Design Team report on the city of Hinton in 1999, which cited the need for someone to be focused full-time on locating potential economic development opportunities for the city and county.

As a result of that recommendation, and subsequent work done by former Summers County Extension agent Bonnie Hunley, the unprecedented partnership was formed between the WVU Extension Service (WVU-ES), the city of Hinton, Summers County Commission and the 4-C Economic Development Authority (4-C EDA ), which includes Summers, Raleigh, Fayette and Nicholas counties. Through the agreement, the city of Hinton contributed $16,000, WVU -ES and the 4-C EDA each contributed $15,000 toward funding for the position. The Summers County Commission allocated $9,900 to provide office space and utilities as an in-kind contribution.

“This partnership demonstrates that the WVU Extension Service can contribute to economic development,”said Dr. Kenneth Martin, WVU Extension Service center director, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community Development.”We can be active participants in seeing projects get developed and assist with job creation.”

“This is an exciting position to be in, especially here where it is really needed,”said Wykle.”Southeastern West Virginia is a great place to live and work. I am interested in building relationships with local business and community leaders, and help them understand the resources available to them through WVU .”

Wykle brings a wealth of education and experience to his new position. He earned a masters degree in finance and human and community resource development and a bachelors degree in history and political science from WVU . He returns to Summers County after serving as an extension educator at North Carolina State University based in Charlotte, N.C., for two-and-a-half years.

The partnership members are excited about the possible economic development opportunities Wykles efforts could bring to the area.

“It is our turn to grow,”said Cleo Matthews, mayor of Hinton.”This partnership is greatgiving us access to WVU s vast resources.”

Summers County Commissioner Lonnie Mullins and 4-C Economic Development Authority Executive Director Judy Radford agree.

“It will help us in having a point of contact within Summers County that business leaders and residents can better identify with the terms of economic development issues,”Mullins said.

“His (Wykles) office will have the resources of WVU and the 4-C Economic Development Authority in one place.”

“We wanted to focus on economic development in a different way,”said Radford.”We want to develop the Interstate 64 Technology Corridor in a unique way, which would have the industry drive its success. We should help find ways to strengthen that venture. We would eventually like to see that corridor stretch in Virginia. Wykle can help us with that and with projects in other countries within the region.”

“It is a long-term commitment on my part, as well as the other partners,”Wykle said. The local WVU Extension Service office can serve as a catalyst to help get things done. The first year is very important. We can then build on those accomplishments and move forward from there.”