Victories in the Mountain State
By Paige Kocourek
While much focus is placed on the ways in which West Virginia can improve and develop, it is just as important to identify and promote the various successes the state has experienced in the past few years. The tide is moving in the right direction. The victories are impressive and imperative to the overall well-being and longevity of the Mountain State.
Each win contributes to the overall thriving economy of the state, promoting its attractiveness to investors and new industries.
Many industries have made West Virginia home. These industries—such as manufacturing, aerospace, automotive and energy—require a variety of products or services to thrive, many of which are easily accessible in the state, including cost-effective production, abundant raw materials, an advantageous location and a strong, skilled and loyal workforce.
“One of the keys to our successes is that West Virginia has some of the most talented workers,” says Governor Jim Justice. “When you combine our first-class workforce with the state’s access to abundant resources, you truly have a winning combination.”
These resources are catalysts for growth. Business Facilities magazine named West Virginia the 10th best business climate in the U.S., praising the state for its leadership in emerging technology and biometrics activity. Accolades such as this generate positive press and attention that puts West Virginia on the radar for outside businesses and investors.
International efforts have placed the state on the radar worldwide, leading to multiple foreign investments in the past three years. For example, Gruppo Fanti, an Italian-based metal packaging company, recently opened its first U.S. plant in Weirton, WV, and CS Global Group, a global building and construction services company, chose Moundsville, WV, as its first U.S. plant.
In addition, foreign companies based in West Virginia, like TeMa and Klöckner Pentaplast, are planning expansions, which will have a major impact on the surrounding communities. These outside investments are a significant win for West Virginia and have helped the diversification of the economy and the creation of jobs.
“There really is no better location to launch or expand a business than here in the Mountain State,” says Mitch Carmichael, secretary for the West Virginia Department of Economic Development. “With our pro-business climate and dedication to helping businesses grow and succeed once they’re here, we continue to see expansions across the state.”
West Virginia has worked hard, as an entire state, to secure a positive fiscal future. A lot of groundwork has been established to set the tone for forward progress and momentum.
“Economic development doesn’t happen by itself. The change in tide for West Virginia is due to many things, but a few main drivers are the $1 billion Rainy Day Fund, fiscal stability, international investors, a workers compensation reform, positive shifts in the right to work legislation, eliminating the business franchise tax, incremental changes to our existing statutory tax credits, a low cost of living and, perhaps most importantly, leadership from the governor, his secretaries and this administration to move West Virginia forward,” says Carmichael.
Companies like Leidos, Toyota, Procter & Gamble, Intuit and Northrop Grumman have specifically chosen West Virginia as their base for operations. These investments, along with many others, have made an estimated $10.72 billion impact in the state since the beginning of 2017. These industries are central drivers of economic success. While there are other wins not reflected in that number, it gives a good idea of the economic impact seen in the past six years.
“The increased economic growth we’ve been experiencing is the result of targeted, concerted efforts to attract and recruit top-tier companies to the state,” says Michael Graney, executive director for the West Virginia Department of Economic Development. “We’re continuing to focus on our global recruiting efforts and increase the positive economic impact these industries bring to West Virginia.”
Additional drivers of success are a result of diligent efforts by individuals and organizations such as the West Virginia Department of Economic Development and the local economic development organizations it partners with throughout the state.
“We have deployed new marketing and advertising tools, social media and social selling strategies, and we assist West Virginia employers with recruitment through our jobcase.com/wv and WorkForce West Virginia employment programs,” Graney says. “Programs like Jumpstart are unique training and educational partnerships that create unique selling propositions for the state, our workforce and our employers.”
With hard work and dedication, West Virginia has seen many triumphs in the past six years that are worth celebrating and are clear indicators of the expansive opportunities for growth and development in the state.
“West Virginia is nimble,” Graney says. “We move quickly and can get leaders around a table to make decisions and assist businesses with their expansion and location needs. No other state outworks us.”