FAIRMONT — If all goes as planned, the Marion Regional Development Corp. will receive more than $22,000 in grant money from the state of West Virginia to be used for economic development in Marion County.

MRDC’s board of directors met Friday to discuss the status of the grant application as well as other projects on the group’s economic development checklist.

To be approved for the state grant, which is administered through the West Virginia Certified Development Community program, MRDC must show proof of financial support from both the county and the city.

In August, MRDC received financial backing from both the city of Fairmont and the Marion County Commission to present to the state as proof that economic development had become a local top priority.

With a lump-sum amount of $35,000 from the county, and the same figure divided into monthly payments from the city, MRDC then set about meeting the other requirements to qualify for state funds.

In addition to proof of financial backing, MRDC is required to provide information such as its legal structure, annual action plans, budget, and updated lists of available sites for development. Also required is enrollment in professional development coursework and participation at a West Virginia Economic Development Council meeting.

Once those and other hoops are jumped through, MRDC’s grant application will be complete. According to the CDC program, 50 of West Virginia’s 55 counties have received certification, and therefore funding, through this initiative.

The CDC program was established in 1992 to provide grants to counties for the purpose of economic development. It was organized through the joint efforts of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the West Virginia Economic Development Council and the West Virginia Development Office.

“Each county’s lead economic development organization is eligible to submit a grant [application],” MRDC Executive Director Allen Staggers said. “And the grant can award up to $22,727. Applications are due by the end of the year. I’ve got most of the pieces and parts put together. By next week, or first of the following week we’ll have all of the required documentation put together and submit that.”

“Once that is accomplished,” MRDC President Nick Fantasia said, “we will have certified development community status again. We’ll have that matching money that goes into the operating funds for economic development.”

Board members also discussed the upcoming deadline to submit a proposal to the city of Fairmont for the development of the site of the former Sharon Steel plant. “Our proposal is for a business park,” Fantasia said. “We would work with the owners of the property to develop it.”

There are still a few snags in MRDC’s work to acquire the last few properties on Diamond Street that are needed for a planned development there.

“We’ve got a couple of title issues with property that we’re buying,” Fantasia said. “But we’re getting it cleared up.”

Often, developers have problems reaching owners of properties because houses or land have been passed down to family members who no longer live in the area and they are difficult to track down.

In addition to the work related to grant applications and proposals, MRDC has begun its branding efforts.

“We’re in the process of putting our website together,” Staggers said. “We know it’s important because people need to know we’re here, how to get in touch with us, and what we have.”

“We’re working with a local marketing firm, Social Bee Marketing. They’re going to put together the framework of the website. Katie Willard is the president of the company, and she’s also the founder,” Staggers said. “She’s located right downtown in the WesBanco building.”

To reach Lori Riley, email lriley@timeswv.com.

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