Huntington: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Huntington and Cabell County have long been known for their strong manufacturing base, although now the service sector makes up the largest percentage of jobs. Steel and glass were industries that grew in the city's Industrial Revolution origins, as did the transportation sector, which created the town. New industries are being lured to the area with economic incentives. The health care industry in the area continues to grow, with health care organizations being among the area's top employers.

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

A variety of incentive programs are available to companies who establish new businesses in the Huntington area, including free land programs, relocation grants, financing of equipment, rent breaks, and others.

State programs

West Virginia has a number of state tax exemption and incentive programs, such as the Warehouse Freeport Tax Exemption on goods traveling through the state, the Manufacturing Sales Tax Exemption on materials or equipment, and the Strategic R&D Credit program. Companies that relocate their corporate headquarters are eligible for the Corporate Headquarters Credit.

Job training programs

The Governor's Guaranteed Work Force Program offers one-stop service for all economic development-related job training in the Huntington area. The program provides funds for up to 100 percent of the cost for training new or existing employees in qualifying companies, up to a total of $2,000. The Cabell County Career Technology Center provides vocational and technology training, while the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing helps small- and medium-sized manufacturers with technology and technical training. The Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialists Training Program offers on-the-job training to child care professionals. Area colleges also provide many job training programs.

Development Projects

The Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO) has been an important factor in economic growth in recent years. Two major projects that have recently come to fruition are Kinetic Park and Pullman Square. Kinetic Park is a 95-acre technology and business park and retail center, which in 2005 will see its first occupants build and begin business activities. In 2004, after years of planning, Pullman Square opened, a $60 million open-air retail and entertainment complex that hopes to rejuvenate the downtown area. HADCO and Marshall University have joined forces to promote and develop the biotech industry in the area, and together will build the Velocity Center in Kinetic Park to encourage business growth. HADCO boasts that in 10 years the organization has brought 9,000 new jobs to Huntington; has brought in 30 new companies; and has leased, sold or built 1.7 million feet of building space. Other recent developments include the re-opening of a former glass bottle factory as a steel plant by Capresa, a Spanish steelmaker based in Barcelona, and two new call centers for and Global Contact Services.

Items and goods produced: steel, glass, railroad equipment

Economic Development Information: Huntington Area Development Council, 916 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, Huntington, WV 25701; telephone (304)525-1161; fax (304)525-1163; email Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, 720 Fourth Ave., Huntington, WV 25701; telephone (304)525-5131

Commercial Shipping

Huntington's central location in the heart of the Tri-State region of West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky affords it a convenient midway point between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Louisville, Kentucky. Products and people move through the Tri-State region's efficient transportation network that includes the Tri-State Airport; an interstate highway system that links the area to East Coast, Southern, and Midwestern markets; an advanced rail network; and the largest tonnage barge port on the Ohio River. In addition, Huntington is within a 24 hour drive of approximately 44 percent of the nation's industrial market, and 37 percent of the consumer market.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The outlook for the Huntington area looks bright, despite the city's continuing decline in population. HADCO's development plans and joint ventures with Marshall University offer the promise of bringing new technology and biotech firms to the area. Higher energy prices in the mid-2000s could bring much needed capital into West Virginia, through the coal industry. In this case, investment in new business sectors and redevelopment of the old industrial base could provide a boom to the Tri-State region. Employment rates in Cabell County have remained fairly stable in the last few years, but there has also been a -0.7% decrease in population between 2000 and 2003. Since 2000, only 22.4% of the adult population over 25 have bachelor degrees; more education and training programs may be needed to keep technology-based jobs in the city.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Huntington metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 121,400

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 6,800

manufacturing: 10,600

trade, transportation and utilities: 26,100

information: 1,600

financial activities: 5,300

business and professional services: 11,000

educational and health services: 20,300

leisure and hospitality: 10,900

other services: 8,100

government: 20,700

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.48

Unemployment rate: 6.1% (January 2005)

Huntington: Economy

Huntington: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
Marshall University 2,000
St. Mary's Hospital 2,000
Marathon Ashland Petroleum 1,700
Cabell-Huntington Hospital 1,500
AK Steel 1,400
CSX Huntington 1,100
Applied Card Systems 1,000
Alcon Surgical 506
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 450
Client Logic 400

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Huntington is somewhat lower than comparable cities in the United States.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Huntington area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $232,360

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 96.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 3.0 to 6.5%

State sales tax rate: 6.0%

Local income tax rate: none

Local sales tax rate: none

Property tax rate: $.035088 per $100 of assessed valuation (calculated on 60% of market value)

Economic Information: Huntington Area Development Council, 916 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, Huntington, WV 25701; telephone (304)525-1161; fax (304)525-1163