DAVISVILLE – Bowles Rice Business Development Director Keith Burdette has been named president and chief executive officer of the Polymer Alliance Zone.

The alliance and the firm consented to Burdette’s dual role in a contract between the parties.

Keith Burdette
Keith Burdette

“Bowles Rice is very supportive of this arrangement,” Burdette told The West Virginia Record. He said the executive committee at Bowles Rice and at the alliance “concluded that it was an equation that would work for both organizations.”

Having been responsible for 10 divisions within state government “with often very different missions” during his tenure as cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, Burdette said he is confident that he can “juggle two with similar missions.”

“The five counties in the zone (Mason, Jackson, Wood, Pleasants and Tyler) have one of the higher concentrations of polymer and polymer-related companies in the country, and it makes sense that the state should be able to build on that,” Burdette told The West Virginia Record.

Burdette said the Polymer Alliance Zone was established by former Gov. Gaston Caperton under an executive order to advance the polymer industry in West Virginia.

“I have worked with the Polymer Alliance in one capacity or another for over a decade, and I believe in its potential especially given that this region has one of the world’s largest supplies of a major feedstock for the industry, ethane,” Burdette said. “As the Marcellus and Utica shale plays become home to a group of ethane crackers, the potential is virtually limitless.”

Burdette said he will approach his job at the alliance from several different directions.

First, he said he wants to focus on the companies that are already in the zone and make sure they know the alliance “can be a resource and a liaison.” Second, Burdette said he wants organization to be functional and valuable to both those it serves and the members who support it, as “funds are always tight.”

“Our private sector supporters are critical to our mission,” Burdette said. “We have to be able to show the value of our work.”

In addition, Burdette said the alliance’s outreach for new investment and new jobs must reflect the changes in the marketplace.

“We need to identify opportunities and reach out to them wherever they may be,” he said. “We have to sell to our strengths and I am convinced West Virginia has many. And we have to be effective partners with both the federal, state and local governments so that an opportunity is met with all the resources we have to offer.”

In his role at Bowles Rice, Burdette "assists clients and attorneys with business and economic development issues,” according to the release.

“This appointment with PAZ is a natural extension of my work at Bowles Rice and fits well with their mission to help West Virginia’s businesses grow and prosper here,” Burdette said in the release.

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