By Mitch Carmichael, cabinet secretary of the W.Va. Department of Economic Development
Great jobs, abundant opportunities, and new industries are finding a welcoming home in West Virginia. On a regional, national, and international scale, our state is winning new business at a torrid clip. West Virginia is beating states many times our size and delivering incredible victories for our citizens.
The Justice administration has ushered in what I believe is the most thrilling and exciting time in the history of West Virginia Economic Development. The citizens of our state are enjoying unprecedented success. We have so much for which to be thankful and many reasons to celebrate.
A multitude of world class companies have recently undertaken concerted and diligent efforts to determine the best place in America to locate their new factories, invest significant capital, and create thousands of jobs. It’s incredibly gratifying and rewarding to proclaim that West Virginia is winning the competition for these great manufacturing jobs! The people of West Virginia will now have the opportunity to work in exciting, future-oriented jobs that enable families to live and thrive in our home state.
A quick summary of the most recent significant West Virginia victories reveals a business portfolio that is unrivaled in scope and impact. Many of the world’s largest companies are saying “YES” to West Virginia for their most important corporate investments:
- Commercial Metals
- Berkshire Hathaway
- Precision Castparts
- Owens & Minor
- Form Energy
- Our Next Energy “ONE”
- Pure Watercraft
- Green Power Moto
- Omnis Technology
- Arch Coal
- Alcon, Gestamp
- Mountaintop Beverage
The list goes on and on. Dozens of companies are selecting West Virginia as the best place in America to live, work, invest, and raise a family. These victories represent thousands upon thousands of highly paid jobs for our citizens. West Virginia is rapidly moving forward by embracing the changing economic landscape and delivering incredible opportunities for families across our state. We are winning because of our ability to embrace change and shape events.
The willingness and strength of our citizens to adapt to dynamic market realities is a hallmark of our ability to compete and win on a global scale. It is noteworthy that nearly all the companies investing in West Virginia and creating thousands of direct/indirect jobs are embracing renewable energy sources and their corresponding products.
Companies are encouraged by West Virginia’s unique and ideal position to lead the energy revolution in America by supplying an “all of the above” energy portfolio. Our citizens recognize, respect, and honor this state’s stalwart commitment to traditional extractive industries while simultaneously welcoming new, innovative companies that expand opportunities for our citizens. Whether in the form of coal, oil gas, or renewable fuel sources, West Virginia energy will power the manufacturing renascence occurring in America. Because of West Virginia’s “all of the above” energy strategy, this state has become renowned as the best place in America to locate advanced manufacturing businesses.
It is encouraging to note that the economic incentives which were required to win these incredible opportunities and the thousands of associated West Virginia jobs received overwhelming support from the West Virginia legislature, passing with over three to one margins. This significant margin of victory is a terrific signal to industry and to future generations of West Virginians for even greater prosperity. Governor Justice and our team at the West Virginia Department of Economic Development have led the charge to grow and diversify the West Virginia economy. These leaders have demonstrated the ability to embrace change and make it work to the advantage of our citizens.
Obviously, there will always be loud, yet uninformed, voices seeking to undermine progress by clinging to the status quo. Just as there were folks in the last century who fought the adoption of automobiles by clinging to horse drawn carriages and buggy whips, so will there always be those that resist progress. We should reject these shrill voices that attempt to hold back our progress and thwart our prosperity. Our citizens deserve the right to compete for great jobs in new and emerging industries.
West Virginia is winning the future through intelligent leadership willing to see new horizons. We are strengthening our traditional industries while rapidly embracing exciting new opportunities. To paraphrase the ancient philosopher Socrates, “the secret of change is to focus all our energy not on tearing down the old, but on building the new”. The many new, innovative industries flocking to West Virginia have realized that our state has struck the perfect balance of building upon our historical strengths while making room for a modern, innovation economy.
It is important that we pause to give thanks for the wonderful blessings and opportunities that we have received with these many economic development announcements. Families and future generations will look back on these years and know that West Virginia reached for her best and began a revolution of renewed prosperity. In the words of John F. Kennedy, “change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future”.
The future for West Virginia workers, families, and our economic prosperity is bright and full of sunshine!