Fairmont City Planner Jay Rogers

Fairmont City Planner Jay Rogers (from left), Fairmont Planning Commission President Dave Shaw, Marion County Chamber of Commerce President Tina Shaw, Marion County Commissioner Alan Parks and developer Roy L. Cook look at proposed plans for the Fairmont riverfront during the chamber’s first Developer and Investor Networking Reception Thursday at Fairmont State University’s Falcon Center.

Deep down, CBS News national correspondent Drew Levinson is just a kid from Fairmont.

Fairmont, N.C., that is.

So when a news assignment brought Levinson through the I-79 Corridor, a sign for Fairmont, W.Va., along the interstate naturally caught his eye. It also brought the opportunity to add a Fairmont magnet to his collection he’s picked up here and there when on location across the globe.

But the early morning hours of his trip through Fairmont halted his magnet mission.

So he called the Marion County Chamber of Commerce for their assistance. He eventually got the magnet, which is hanging on the refrigerator in

his Manhattan apartment. But he took something else away from the experience — a fondness for Fairmont that has nothing to do with its name.

Levinson was a guest speaker during the MCCC’s first Developer and Investor Networking Reception held Thursday night at Fairmont State University’s Falcon Center. There, officials gave investors and developers updates on current and planned projects for Marion County, as well as showcasing opportunities to get involved in that development.

“I must admit that your town is prettier and bigger than mine,” Levinson said of the two Fairmonts. “But we all know that it’s not the size of your town, but what you do with it. And you guys are doing wonderful things.

“When you have a good product, it makes your job

to sell it a lot easier,” Levinson said.

The reception featured speakers like Marion Regional Development Corp. Director Sharon Jones Shaffer and Fairmont Planning Commission President Dave Shaw, who detailed new projects and new housing opportunities in the county and city.

MCCC President Tina Shaw offered a welcome to state and regional developers and investors.

“After this evening, I hope that you will all be convinced that Marion County is a place where you can spend a day or spend a lifetime,” Shaw told the guests.

She pointed to what she called a “fairy tale ending” for a local business as an example of how a business can start small and end up making a name for itself on the national scene. Wade Linger, president of Global Science and Technology — West Virginia, started the company after relocating to Fairmont to open a branch office for ManTech International in 1992.

“Things looked a lot different then,” Linger said. “There was no such thing as the West Virginia High Technology Consortium or the I-79 High Technology Park. It was tough to even get employees then.”

After 14 years in West Virginia, Linger grew his company, then called TMC Technologies, from one employee to 80, completing $12 million worth of contracts on an annual basis.

And then he got a call last year from a Virginia-based company who wanted to take TMC under its wings.

“Selling the company was the last thing on my mind, but we had bumped into a ceiling,” Linger explained.

The company was too big to work as a subcontractor, but too small to compete against the big technology companies. Joining GST would solve that problem.

GST found TMC Technologies through a search firm that started looking for companies within a 300-mile radius to GST’s headquarters in Virginia.

“In terms of capability, access to contracts, profit and the ability to retain employees — all the things you want in a company — we were right for them,” Linger said. “Being in West Virginia didn’t affect the deal. That validates what were doing is for real here.”

The Developer and Investor Networking Reception served as kind of a kickoff for today’s MCCC Small Business Expo, which will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the Falcon Center. Levinson will be the keynote speaker during a special luncheon for the vendors of the expo.

E-mail Misty POE at mpoe@timeswv.com.

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