BUCKHANNON - The Upshur County Development Authority Board of Directors bid farewell to their long-time executive director Steve Foster and welcomed the newly hired Robert Hinton to the position during Tuesday's meeting.
Foster has been at the helm of the UCDA for the last 10 years and was instrumental in bringing several businesses to the county. UCDA Board President Sam Nolte spoke nothing but praise for Foster during the meeting.
"Steve honestly has made a big impact in my life," Nolte said. "Steve Foster makes an impact. He's got Upshur County at heart."
Recently retired Upshur County Development Authority Executive Director Steve Foster and UCDA Board of Directors President Sam Nolte hold up an artist map of the city of Buckhannon. The map was created by Bryson Van Nostrand and given to Foster as a gift. The map, originally created in the early 1900s, has been updated to show new buildings in the city. Foster received the fourth print of the map; only 100 will be printed. (The Inter-Mountain photos by Anthony Gaynor)
Randolph County Development Authority Executive Director Robbie Morris speaks during Wednesday’s meeting. (The Inter-Mountain photos by Anthony Gaynor)
Nolte said Foster's work in bringing in 13 businesses to the Upshur County Business Center, beginning the Buckhannon Industrial Park and keeping the Army National Guard Armory in Buckhannon are just a few of the highlights of Foster's tenure.
"Jawbone Park would not be Jawbone Park without Steve going after the loan," Nolte said.
Randolph County Development Authority Executive Director Robbie Morris, the guest speaker at Tuesday's meeting, said Forster has been a great asset and a mentor to him.
"I've had a lot of great people mentor me and Steve Foster is one of them," Morris said.
"I really appreciate Steve's tutelage over the last few years."
Foster told The Inter-Mountain there have been many successes throughout his tenure, but noted sometimes the first success sticks out the most. He said when he began his position with the UCDA there was no movie theater in Buckhannon.
"Working with the folks in Elkins (owners of the Elkins Cinema 8) we were able to make a real neat thing happen," Foster said. "We didn't have a theater in town."
He said an agreement was put into place where if the theater opened in Buckhannon any local taxes the business was to pay for the first two years would instead be used to make improvements to the business. He said the result was bringing a theater to Buckhannon which has been a success.
Foster said he was also proud of the work done to keep the Army National Guard Armory in Buckhannon. He said there was a chance the armory would relocate, but after several meetings and hours of time, it was decided the armory would stay in Buckhannon and also be the home of the Brushy Fork Conference Center.
"The biggest thing in total was the center," Foster said of his tenure with the UCDA. "It is a game changer for the county. It is going to bring a lot of people into town."
Foster was presented with a framed map of the city of Buckhannon by the group. The map was made by Bryson Van Nostrand, who said it is the same map the city of Buckhannon began using in the early 1900s, but he has added all the new buildings to the map. He said there will only be 100 prints of the map created and Foster received the fourth print.
Nolte told the new UCDA executive director, Robert Hinton, "You have big shoes to fill." Hinton will begin his tenure on Aug. 8 and said he is looking forward to continuing Foster's work.
"I want to keep the ball rolling," Hinton told The Inter-Mountain. "A priority is Corridor H. I want to continue to be an advocate for that and push for an earlier completion. It plays a part in having a pipeline to the larger markets and to tap into the export opportunities along the eastern seaboard."
Before accepting his new position, Hinton served as a business coach with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center. During his tenure, Hinton provided resources for new businesses and expanding existing businesses. Hinton directed business owners towards successful routes by utilizing resources available through federal, state, regional and local programs.
Hinton also founded Farm Opportunity Day, bringing business resources to farm owners in central West Virginia. He is an executive board member of the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition and became a project director for the New Appalachian Farm and Research Center.
Hinton served as a graduate assistant, an assistant football coach and adjunct instructor for the exercise science department at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Late in 2004, Hinton developed his first business concept and in 2005 opened the doors to Performance Health Systems, a personal training and sports performance facility. As an owner, Hinton trained professional, collegiate and high school athletes in addition to providing wellness programs for people of all ages.
Hinton earned a bachelor of education from Glenville State College, a master of science from California University of Pennsylvania and a master of business administration from Wesleyan College.