- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

PHILIPPI, W.Va. (AP) - The Barbour County Economic Development Authority is seeking to attract Amish families to Philippi and the surrounding region in a strategy to boost tourism and retail opportunities.

Mike Cvechko, the president of the authority’s board of directors, said that they believe relocating Amish businesses to the county is a good idea since area people already travel to Amish stores in neighboring states to shop, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (bit.ly/1PwBn5j).

“Here in rural West Virginia, we have to think outside the box. People in our region travel up into Amish country for a bunch of things. We thought it would be a neat thing to bring them to us. It’s definitely a wonderful concept and one that we hope comes to fruition,” Cvechko said.

Officials conducted market research and spent time visiting Amish businesses in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“We know we can draw people in here if we have the attractions,” County business development director Reggie Trefethen said, adding that people come from all over for Amish-made goods.

Trefethen said the Amish families would be paying to move to West Virginia on their own.

“These people are going to come in all by themselves,” he said. “The community takes care of itself.”

Trefethen said there could be as many as 16 Amish businesses, including furniture builders and cheese makers, in the county by the end of 2016, if Amish community leaders agree to relocate. The community is expected to make a final decision this month.

“There will be a trial period to see how everything goes,” Cvechko said. “If everything goes as expected, more families will hopefully move in.”

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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