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In This Issue:

 Dan Angel

 Amazon.com

 Last Laugh

Cuisine

 From the Editor

From the Editor

Huntington couldn’t have scripted a better way to inaugurate the Year 2000. On Thursday morning, January 13, the bright red curtains at the Marshall University Fine & Performing Arts Center were slowly raised. On stage stood billionaire Jeff Bezos, Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” Bezos, the founder of the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com, smiled enthusiastically as he announced to an overflow crowd of students and business leaders that he would be locating his company’s East Coast customer service center in Huntington (see article p. 42). The audience erupted with a standing ovation. The future had arrived in Huntington.

The Amazon.com announcement will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the biggest economic development coups in Huntington’s history. It signals the transformation of the local economy from its industrial based origins in rail, steel and manufacturing to the more cutting edge, technology-driven markets of the future. The seed that Bezos and his company have planted in Huntington should produce a rich harvest of other high-tech businesses. Once other Silicon Valley related companies take notice of the move made by an industry leader such as Amazon.com, others will most assuredly follow.

The announcement should come as no surprise to those of us living here. Amazon.com, like Toyota, United Airlines and other big name players before them, realizes what unique opportunities can be found in this part of the state. The burgeoning region between Huntington and Charleston offers much: more than half a million people; convenient location to other east coast markets; strong economic incentives for business; beautiful landscape; plentiful natural resources; a skilled and dedicated workforce; an unsurpassed quality of life; and, of course, Marshall University. In fact, Marshall was a key factor in Amazon’s decision to locate in Huntington. The university’s pool of capable students and reputation for excellence in high-tech pursuits made their decision easy.

Perhaps the Amazon.com announcement illustrates best the importance of Marshall University to this community. The fact is, Marshall is more than academics and athletics. The institution also plays a pivotal role throughout the region in medicine, technology, culture, manufacturing and, most importantly in January, economic development.

Newly appointed Marshall University President Dan Angel speaks to that very issue in the HQ Interview when he says, “The university needs to be a full partner in economic development. We have to give people a reason to come here. Amazon.com is a perfect example. Marshall University has really progressed in high technology. Through the efforts of the City of Huntington, the Huntington Area Development Council and others, Amazon.com recognized that and documented it by coming to Huntington.”

Make no mistake about it, the announcement is major. Amazon.com will most likely be the first of many companies to lead the region into the 21st Century. Huntington, with the help of Marshall University, now stands ready to meet the challenges of a new economy.

 

 

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