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W.Va. Homeland Security Trade summit begins

July 23, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - It was like something out of a science-fiction movie.

Mike Lee flipped controls on his "mini Titan" power-generating unit and it made a buzzing sound as its parts moved into place.

The contraption with its tall tower and solar panels is designed to generate alternative forms of power, which is important during natural disasters or other emergencies, according to Lee, of Elevated Security.

In the aftermath of a man-made or natural disaster, it might be impossible to pump fuel to run traditional power generators, Lee said.

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With Lee's mini Titan, the device can be rolled to a location to provide alternative power sources.

Large solar panels at the bottom of the unit can trap the energy from the sun, or it can harness the power of the wind.

The mini Titan is being manufactured in Hedgesville, W.Va., and Lee said he has already sold the units to prisons and airports.

The mini Titan was just one of the points of discussion Sunday as the West Virginia Homeland Security Trade Mission got off to a start at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

With homeland security and terrorist threats becoming a common part of the country's fabric, the 2 1/2-day summit is aimed at helping businesses that specialize in homeland security form partnerships with governments and other entities.

It's something that can turn into economic development for West Virginia, officials at the conference said.

Jane Peters described on Sunday the prime business sites that are scattered across the Eastern Panhandle and emphasized to expanding homeland security firms how the cost to do business here can be 10 percent lower than inside the Washington, D.C., beltway.

"We have amenities that very few places can offer," said Peters, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority.

The mission is hosted by Discover the REAL West Virginia Foundation, a private, nonprofit economic development foundation created by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and others.

Rockefeller is expected to participate in the mission and was scheduled to speak during a reception Sunday night at the motel.

During the mission, entrepreneurs will be able to learn about other advanced research efforts and operations in the state, such as biometrics research at West Virginia University, said Sara Dearing, director of Discover the REAL West Virginia Foundation.

Biometrics involves different identification techniques and "retinal scanning," Dearing said.

This morning in Jefferson County, participants in the mission are expected to tour the Summit Point (W.Va.) Automotive Research Center, based at Summit Point Raceway.

Government agencies like the U.S. State Department use the 10-turn asphalt car racetrack to receive evasive driving training to help protect them from possible terrorist attacks.

During the visit at the track, Rockefeller is expected to speak on the topic, "West Virginia's Role in Protecting our Nation."

On Sunday, Kelley Goes, West Virginia's secretary of commerce, outlined the benefits of entrepreneurs to working with state government.

State officials will evaluate the needs of prospective new companies and forge relationships with them, Goes said. Advantages offered by the state include office space that is much cheaper than in other states, Goes said.

Robert A. Fisher was among the business people at Sunday's meeting.

Fisher said his company, Secure Infrastructure Solutions Corp., provides top-secret buildings for clients.

Fisher said his company has built facilities in Maryland and Virginia, and is now looking at West Virginia.

"I like what I see so far," Fisher said during a break at Sunday's meeting.

After today's tour at the Summit Point Automotive Research Center, the group will leave for Morgantown, W.Va. Other parts of the mission will be held in Clarksburg, W.Va., and Fairmont, W.Va.

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