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Old 05-28-2009, 09:13 AM
 
Location: home state of Myrtle Beach!
6,235 posts, read 18,133,606 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saintspat View Post
I first arrived in Huntington from New York in 1992 to visit my parents who moved there while I was away at college. For people who think that Huntington doesn't have a lot to offer now, you should of seen it in 92. Empty buildings, a dead downtown if it wasn't for Marshall the one word I'd use to describe it would be depressing. After college I lived in Huntington from 95-99 and my parents just moved away this year to retire. That town has really come a long way. I feel it has more of a nightlife then larger Charleston, a nice park (Ritter), a major university. While jobs are a problem, but where aren't they a problem right now, Huntington has made major strides to reinvent itself after the loss of factory jobs. I've traveled all of this country and Huntington has a way to go to be like say Greenville SC, it's not as bad as Toledo Ohio.
I really enjoyed the years I spent there and when friends from school visited me from New York, Boston, Baltimore, D.C., Pittsburgh, and Philly they loved the town.
All of my life Huntington has been a struggling city. I was born in Huntington in 1960 and my parents began trying to get out of the city almost immediately. Over the years Huntington has tried to reinvent itself but usually becomes depressed all over again in each 10 year span. It is funny that you mention my current home, Greenville, SC and you are right in that Huntington has a long way to go before it is like Greenville. Huntington has tried so many times and failed. I love Huntington but there hasn't been enough left to sustain its population and that's been true for almost everyone of my 50 years. Without Marshall, Huntington would have died long ago.
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Old 05-28-2009, 02:30 PM
 
Location: Huntington, WV
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For me, being in the younger generation, it's been just the opposite. Huntington has always been a nice place but the downtown never had the drawing power it has now when I was growing up. The last of the departments stores closed in the late 90s-early 2000s and after that, there wasn't much shopping downtown. There was the good restaurants and performance venues but nothing to draw the people down when this stuff or a Marshall event wasn't happening. For my generation, Huntington has seen a lot of growth in the last 5 years, since Pullman Square went in. With a lot of the streetscape renovations, this has brought more foot traffic and stores are filling up and the upper parts of buildings that were previously empty are being turned into condos. I've also noticed that where the older generations moved out of Huntington and into the surrounding towns, many of the younger generation are moving from the surrounding areas into town. Many people that I went to school with in the Barboursville area have now moved downtown. With all of these positive changes and the great things going on through Create Huntington, I think the reinvention may actually stick this time.

And most towns with a college in them would be in far worse shape if they lost their university. Especially as they are saying that the knowledge economy is the future for the US. With Marshall as well as some of the manufacturing that is left, a diversified economy in Huntington is looking stronger and stronger. The next few years will bring even greater things for Huntington. Age does bring a different perspective.

Tim
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Old 05-28-2009, 08:50 PM
 
Location: home state of Myrtle Beach!
6,235 posts, read 18,133,606 times
Reputation: 3419
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbailey1138 View Post
For me, being in the younger generation, it's been just the opposite. Huntington has always been a nice place but the downtown never had the drawing power it has now when I was growing up. The last of the departments stores closed in the late 90s-early 2000s and after that, there wasn't much shopping downtown. There was the good restaurants and performance venues but nothing to draw the people down when this stuff or a Marshall event wasn't happening. For my generation, Huntington has seen a lot of growth in the last 5 years, since Pullman Square went in. With a lot of the streetscape renovations, this has brought more foot traffic and stores are filling up and the upper parts of buildings that were previously empty are being turned into condos. I've also noticed that where the older generations moved out of Huntington and into the surrounding towns, many of the younger generation are moving from the surrounding areas into town. Many people that I went to school with in the Barboursville area have now moved downtown. With all of these positive changes and the great things going on through Create Huntington, I think the reinvention may actually stick this time.

And most towns with a college in them would be in far worse shape if they lost their university. Especially as they are saying that the knowledge economy is the future for the US. With Marshall as well as some of the manufacturing that is left, a diversified economy in Huntington is looking stronger and stronger. The next few years will bring even greater things for Huntington. Age does bring a different perspective.

Tim
I hope you are right and the city gets it right this time. There once was a time when the areas OP writes about were nice and not rundown like they were on my last trip home a few years ago. It was sad to see it that way.
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:51 AM
 
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Huntington's problem is similar to that of other, similar towns with an emphasis on heavy industry. That sort of industry is a dying breed. It is the victim of incredibly stupid policy on the part of the leftist wackos who are pushing it out of the country with rediculous pro regulation stances and irrational global warming theories making it impossible for capital to prosper and more attractive to do it elsewhere where there is no regulation and of greedy unions. It is also the victim of greedy capitalists and fiscal conservatives who put their own pocketbooks ahead of the interests and well being of their countrymen. The result of the worst of both worlds.

The railroad industry has also declined, both in terms of passenger service and freight, which has to a large extent passed to trucking, and Huntington is not well positioned to be benefit from that due to distances from major population centers.

The energy sector is also problematic in that it is so cyclical in nature. Wheeling, my home town, is less than half the town it was once for the same reason. The only reason Huntington hasn't declined quite as much is the presence of a University, and there is a danger the current administration there might screw that up too (obviously just my opinion).

I think Tim is very young and does not remember what was once Huntington. It really was a fine town at a point in the past. It is a shell of that time, recent developments at struggling Pullman Square and a couple other streets aside. The housing stock is deteriorating and the industry associated with the river is on the wane. In my opinion, the future in that region lies in Putnam County which will benefit from the declines of both Cabell and Kanawha, which is trying to pretend it still has a city by wanting to incorporate Pond Gap, Glasgow, and Cabin Creek into a Metro scheme.
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Old 05-31-2009, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
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Good point, Huntington was around 100,000 in population in the early 80's now it sits just under 50k. That blew me away when i first learned it. How could a city shrink THAT much in under 30 years? The answer? Not being able to transition from one primary industry to others. Similar to what happened to Flint, Michigan when the Auto Plants closed down up there YEARS ago. Just wait to see what happens to the population of some of the Detroit area Auto Industry driven towns in the next decade, it will make Huntington look like a paradise!!!
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:10 PM
 
Location: Huntington, WV
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Huntington's peak population was 86,353 in 1950 and it has declined since then due to the industrial decline in the same time frame. The population was 63,684 in 1980 and 54,844 in 1990. So the city hasn't shrunk that much in the last 30 years and even less in the last 20 years. The combination of the slowing losses combined with the revitalization and citizen movements like Create Huntington are why I think the city will begin to post some gains in the next 5-10 years.

Huntington, West Virginia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 05-31-2009, 09:16 PM
 
9,401 posts, read 11,464,116 times
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I certainly hope you are right, but for now it doesn't look too good. The steel plant in Ashland is laying off hundreds, regional coal mines are laying off, Pullman lost its Mexican restaurant, an iconic dress shop is closing downtown, coal shipping on the river just took a huge hit, the local newspaper laid off dozens, the local rail yards are laying off, and even Blenko is operating with half its employees. You can't lose all of that and replace it with minimum wage Walgreens jobs and come out in with a positive outlook.

Huntington is looking more and more like my hometown (Wheeling) which also has lost half its population with the industrial decline. And, it doesn't really look that heavy industry will be returning any time soon.
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:50 AM
 
Location: Huntington, WV
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The steel plant in Ashland is going to idle its furnaces for the rest of 2009 but they plan to open back up in 2010. But that's Ashland, Huntington has its own steel companies. The dress shop closing downtown is doing so because the owner died and no one in the family wants to keep it going, an unfortunate aspect to many family owned businesses. There are no coal mines in Cabell County and while the decline in coal will affect shipments on the river, that wasn't a huge part of the Huntington economy. While other railyards have been laying people off, that hasn't happened here in Huntington. They actually just moved a lot of there workers from Jacksonville to here last year to expand the offerings here. And at least Blenko is still operating. How's the glass industry in the rest of the state? With regards to the newspaper, incase you haven't noticed, that's been happening all across the nation. Biggest difference being that the H-D only let go 24 people (that's the "dozens" you spoke of) rather than shutting down the whole thing. As to the restaurant closing, don't you normally attribute that to just "not being competitive" or did it not happen in the right town to say that?

Things are looking up. Marshall is expanding degree offerings with plans for more facilities and degrees in the future. They continue to renovate and restore buildings downtown for new businesses and people. Alcon is continuing with it's expansion plans which will add hundreds of new jobs. The Tri-State Airport was the 6th fastest growing airport in the nation last year and they are currently lengthening the runway to allow them to offer more flights. They are also building a shell building for new industry at the airport. Once they expand the sewer lines along Hal Greer (which they will have done by this fall), there are plans to invest $80 million to develop the land right along the interstate for retail, restaurants and places to live. That will also allow them to fully develop Kinetic Park as they can do no further development there until the sewer line is expanded. The hospitals are growing, the mall is adding new stores and new theaters, homes are being renovated and on and on. I know you would like to see Huntington die, but it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.
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Old 06-01-2009, 06:39 AM
 
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
424 posts, read 1,081,602 times
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Tim,

You should run for Mayor. You obviously are passionate enough about Huntington that you COULD make a difference. I would vote for you if I lived there!

One note though on your passion. Do not believe for a second that anyone WANTS to see Huntington die. However, a healthy sense of realism will be more helpful to your mission of Proponent of Huntington.

In likely 5-10 years Huntington will again be in my sites, in fact, I may buy property there in the meantime and wait to move. I believe in WV and I believe Huntington will rise again. It's just a matter of time as you have said yourself.

Last edited by mattbward; 06-01-2009 at 07:52 AM..
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:31 AM
 
9,401 posts, read 11,464,116 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbailey1138 View Post
The steel plant in Ashland is going to idle its furnaces for the rest of 2009 but they plan to open back up in 2010. But that's Ashland, Huntington has its own steel companies. The dress shop closing downtown is doing so because the owner died and no one in the family wants to keep it going, an unfortunate aspect to many family owned businesses. There are no coal mines in Cabell County and while the decline in coal will affect shipments on the river, that wasn't a huge part of the Huntington economy. While other railyards have been laying people off, that hasn't happened here in Huntington. They actually just moved a lot of there workers from Jacksonville to here last year to expand the offerings here. And at least Blenko is still operating. How's the glass industry in the rest of the state? With regards to the newspaper, incase you haven't noticed, that's been happening all across the nation. Biggest difference being that the H-D only let go 24 people (that's the "dozens" you spoke of) rather than shutting down the whole thing. As to the restaurant closing, don't you normally attribute that to just "not being competitive" or did it not happen in the right town to say that?

Things are looking up. Marshall is expanding degree offerings with plans for more facilities and degrees in the future. They continue to renovate and restore buildings downtown for new businesses and people. Alcon is continuing with it's expansion plans which will add hundreds of new jobs. The Tri-State Airport was the 6th fastest growing airport in the nation last year and they are currently lengthening the runway to allow them to offer more flights. They are also building a shell building for new industry at the airport. Once they expand the sewer lines along Hal Greer (which they will have done by this fall), there are plans to invest $80 million to develop the land right along the interstate for retail, restaurants and places to live. That will also allow them to fully develop Kinetic Park as they can do no further development there until the sewer line is expanded. The hospitals are growing, the mall is adding new stores and new theaters, homes are being renovated and on and on. I know you would like to see Huntington die, but it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.
Bailey, ... I don't want to see Huntington die. I would like to see it thrive, along with the other industrial towns that are slowly fading to oblivion. I'm just realistic. Like you, I hung on for years hoping that Wheeling would stop the bleeding. But these are blue collar towns and heavy industry is on the downswing in this country. We could point lots of fingers as to why that is happening, but the fact remains it is happening. It doesn't look to stop happening. Along with it, much of our middle class is taking a huge hit.

It is very hard to change the mindset of an urban area, especially one has historically relied on heavy industry. Huntington might recover some day, but it won't look anything like it does now if it does. And, you might be glad to see Marshall offering new degrees as you pointed out, but there are definite problems with that when funding is static and doesn't look to improve any time soon; when your staff is very underpaid; when your tuition structure is underpriced, and when any new endeavor has to come at the expense of existing programs. As a Marshall alumnus I see that as troubling, in spite of the enthusiasm of Huntington residents who cling to any new development as a sign of something positive.

You claim that the rail yards are bringing in new workers? That doesn't gell with what I have recently read... they are laying off people there. You are right about the restaurant not being competitive, but that is in a location that is the best in town, so that can't be good. And, the fact that someone else isn't keeping the dress shop that has been in business forever going is a troubling sign. And, while there aren't coal mines in Cabell (and Huntington is involved with more than Cabell, right?) the river shipping industry has been significant there. If you don't think it is important, tell that to the 50 or so who are losing their jobs with the recent shutdown announcement.

And, while newspapers everywhere are struggling, layoffs don't bode well where they take place, for any reason. The fact that a Charleston newspaper might lay off people doesn't change the fact that the 24 who lost their jobs in Huntington will cause a ripple effect in that community. And, don't forget the local Chrysler dealership just got disfranchised... how many jobs will that cost? In general, things are not moving upward. I don't blame you for maintaining your enthusiasm, and I hope things really do turn around. I also know there are still lots of good things about Huntington. But, the town is definitely not on the upswing in spite of recent retail developments there and renovations in the downtown area. It's hard to see that happen in your hometown. I know from personal experience.
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