The debate has gone on for years: what to do with the vacant 12,000 acre Hobet Mine site in Boone County, now known as Rock Creek Development. The West Virginia National Guard has been using the site for training, but there is plenty of room for expansion.
“Oh yes, absolutely. So, a couple of things related to our piece. One is we’re only going to use about four to five thousand acres, of twelve thousand,” said Adj. Gen. James Hoyer, West Virginia National Guard.
With all that open room, it was announced Monday that Spec Rescue International will be opening up a training site at Rock Creek Development. SPEC trains first responders, military members, FEMA workers, and others on how to conduct emergency operations. The Virginia company plans to train at least 5,000 out-of-state workers at the Hobet site, every year.
“It’s a great working relationship for West Virginia in general, but specifically with the National Guard.. They’re going bring some economic benefits to the state and certainly the Charleston area as well,” said Larry Phillips, of Spec Rescue International.
But the development of the Hobet site is scaled way back from a $100,000,000 highway and Corridor-G interchange that was proposed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. There are still hopes private sector manufacturing and distribution operations will come to the site.
“It’s so close to Charleston. It’s so close to us, that it needs to be, you know as we move forward, hopefully, we’re going to hit a home run there,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
“Contractors, development, manufacturing-type facilities, that would marry up with the military, at least initially,” said Del. Rodney Miller, (D) Boone.
The arrival of Spec Rescue International at the Hobet-Rock Creek site may be the first sign of that.
Even though the scope of the Hobet Mine Project has changed dramatically since former Governor Tomblin left office, Governor Justice and those around him believe it could still be a significant economic development for West Virginia.