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Plans for economic development continue after Shawnee Park announcement in Kanawha County

For 2019 alone, the Shawnee Sports Complex anticipates that those events will provide an economic impact of $23 million in the Kanawha Valley. (City of Dunbar)

In Kanawha County, excitement continues to build over expectations surrounding the Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex in Institute. The complex is partnering with the Barboursville Soccer Complex to host the 2019 U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships and the 2019 and 2020 U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern President's Cup.

For 2019 alone, the Shawnee Sports Complex anticipates that those events will provide an economic impact of $23 million in the Kanawha Valley.

“This is the biggest economic engine that has hit the Kanawha Valley in decades,” said Mayor Bill Cunningham of Dunbar.

Plans for that economic development are already in place, just days after Governor Jim Justice and Kanawha County Commission announced that those three major youth soccer tournaments held in Dunbar have the potential to generate more than $30 million.

For those dining out, restaurants like Ridge View BBQ expect to see a boost in business as well.

"Yeah, it's very big news. We're all pretty anxious,” said Wendy Smith of Ridge View BBQ. "...“If they have special events, we'll be able to take our smoker and set up down there. Or, catering - some people have catering events for the whole team.”

Cunningham is excited about what's ahead for the area.

“We’ll have some of the economic influx into our city that you've seen South Ridge bring to Charleston and South Charleston,” Cunningham said.

The mayor said the Dunbar Plaza Hotel plans to renovate all 150 of its rooms, 60 of which are suites that can accommodate families.

“They'll be able to put more people in a room and have a little kitchenette and so forth to help minimize some of their expenses while traveling,” Cunningham said.

As for new business coming to the area, the city will form an Urban Renewal Authority to repurpose underutilized and underdeveloped properties.

“It’s been a phenomenal experience sitting on the side, working with the county anyway we can to help facilitate getting things moving along smoothly,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said he would like to have that Urban Renewal Authority in place sometime in the next six months. The Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex is still under construction, but Kanawha County commissioners expect it to open this summer.

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