NGK Celebrates 20 Years
in West Virginia 

On September 2, NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.) Inc., celebrated the twentieth anniversary of its Sissonville manufacturing facility.  Senator Joe Manchin joined Shinichi Odo, president of NGK Spark Plug Co. LTD., and Hitoshi Iimi, president of NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.) Inc., and more than 500 NGK employees, to celebrate this important milestone at a luncheon honoring NGK's accomplishments in the state. 

In 1995, NGK Spark Plugs opened its doors in Sissonville, making it the first wholly-owned Japanese investment in West Virginia.  "It's a great honor to celebrate 20 years of business in West Virginia," said Bob Pepper, senior vice president of manufacturing at NGK.  "This accomplishment couldn't have been made without the tireless efforts and dedication of our associates and business partners throughout the years." 

Since 1995, NGK has produced automotive oxygen sensors at the Sissonville plant.  In 2001, following a second expansion of the sensor plant, NGK established its East Coast warehouse and distribution facility.  Since 2008, with a third plant expansion, NGK has been manufacturing spark plugs in West Virginia.

Following the luncheon, a tree planting ceremony took place in observance of the anniversary.   Later that evening, at a celebratory reception and dinner at Edgewood Country Club in Charleston, NGK presented the DRWV Foundation with a donation in support of its economic development efforts in the state.  Bill Wilmoth, a member with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, and secretary of the DRWV Foundation, accepted the donation on behalf of the organization. 

The DRWV Foundation was instrumental in bringing NGK Spark Plugs to West Virginia.

DRWV Foundation Partners with Google to 
Grow Small Businesses
With a focus on helping small business owners get more attention through Google searches and their online presence, a team from Google hosted a seminar on September 2 at the Clay Center in Charleston called "Let's Put Charleston on the Map" for approximately 100 business executives.  The seminar featured workshops to help small businesses build their online presence with a free website and listings on Google Maps and Search, and information on how to use analytics and search engine optimization to improve your online presence.  Businesses also received a customized domain name and free web hosting. 

According to Google, businesses that are online are expected to grow twice as fast and hire twice as many workers than those that are not.  "With customers increasingly turning to technology to search for what they need, it's important that local businesses can be found online when people are looking for them," said Soo Young Kim, head of Google's Get Your Business Online Program.  

The Foundation first partnered with Google in 2013 with its "Get Your Business Online" seminar, also held in Charleston.  The partnership with Google is part of the Foundation's on-going efforts to grow small businesses.  The Foundation helped to promote both events statewide.  

Businesses can go to to get a free website as well as free tools, training and resources to help their business succeed online. 

DRWV Foundation Hosts Business Community Outreach Event at West Virginia Chamber's Business Summit 
On September 2, the Foundation held a business community outreach reception for attendees of the
West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's Business Summit at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.  The Chamber's annual summit is the largest gathering of business leaders in the state.  The reception provided an opportunity for members of the business community to meet the organization's honorary chair, Senator Joe Manchin, and to learn more about the Foundation's role in growing the state's economy. 

During the reception, Tom Heywood, president of the Foundation, and Senator Manchin, touted the organization's success over the past twenty-two years and spoke about the significant role the organization will play in the state's economic development efforts moving forward.  Other board members in attendance included Mike Flynn, Carl Erhart, Bobby Blakley, and Lloyd Jackson.  

If you would like to learn more about the organization and its work or get involved in its efforts, please contact the organization's executive director, Sara Dearing (contact information shown below).  The Foundation would like to acknowledge the following companies for sponsoring the reception:  Appalachian Power, BB&T, Verizon and West Virginia United Health System.  


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405 Capitol Street, Suite 512
Charleston, West Virginia  25301