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W.Va. sees economic growth (Martinsburg - The Journal)


West Virginia is experiencing a strong period of economic growth. Multiple major investments in our state are being announced by employers who have made the decision to expand in West Virginia.

In August, N3, an Atlanta-based firm that helps companies with online sales and services, opened offices in South Charleston. N3 has said it expects this new facility will create 300 new jobs.

PPD of WV One announced plans to locate in Greenbrier County and convert solid waste materials into diesel fuel.

September kicked off a string of announcements that began with U.S. Methanol breaking ground in Institute for its first facility in the United States. The U.S. Methanol site will employ 300 workers during construction and 50 full-time jobs.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing announced a $115 million investment at its plant in Buffalo. Due to this investment, Toyota will begin manufacturing the company’s first American-made hybrid transaxles.

Hino Motors Manufacturing in Wood County purchased the former Coldwater Creek Distribution Facility off I-77 in Mineral Wells. Hino Motors will add about 250 new jobs in the production of trucks at this facility.

Niche Polymer, which produces engineering polymers for the automotive industry, announced 30 additional jobs at its Jackson County plant as it ramps up production.

This October has continued the string of big economic development announcements. Solvay announced that it plans to double production capacity at its Willow Island Facilities along WV-2 in Pleasants County. The expansion will total about $70 million and bring 30-40 new jobs to the area.

The historic Morris Memorial Hospital in Milton, vacant since 2009, will undergo a renovation to become a grand hotel, with 100 rooms and will include features such as a grand ballroom, conference center, and multiple activities.

And Armstrong Flooring in Beverly, the largest pre-finished hardwood flooring plant in the country, announced an 85,000-square-feet addition that is expected to create 50 new jobs in Randolph County. 

Additionally, the State Data Release from Workforce WV on Oct. 17 shows improving employment numbers for our citizens. From September 2016 to September 2017, mining and logging employment increased by 3,100; construction employment increased by 900; education and health services grew by 3,400; and leisure and hospitality rose by 400 jobs.

It is easy to understand why these types of announcements are beginning to become more frequent in our state. West Virginia employees have long been recognized as some of the most loyal employees in the country, and it shows in their skills. West Virginia manufacturing workers are the seventh-most productive in the nation in terms of value added per hour. Employers understand how important that is for success, and that’s why these workers are the fifth-highest paid in the country.

West Virginia workers have always been some of the best in the country, but for far too long, many roadblocks were in place to cause employers to question whether it was wise to invest here. The West Virginia Legislature that was elected in 2014 and 2016 understood this problem and set about to make serious reforms to the laws of our state. They began by analyzing other states and determining in what areas our state was considered an outlier. Legal reforms, regulatory reforms, and education reforms were some of the first items tackled by the Legislature to bring West Virginia into line with states that are experiencing economic growth. These legislators also stood firm and took the important step to make West Virginia the 26th Right-to-Work state in the nation. All the evidence available says these actions are paying off.

Now, we will begin to address infrastructure, another critical piece of the puzzle. On Oct. 7, West Virginia voters went to the polls and overwhelmingly approved the Roads to Prosperity Amendment. Thanks to the passage of this amendment, our state will be able to undertake significant highway programs that for far too long were only in the planning stage. Employers know that good roads and highways are essential to success, and improving our infrastructure will be a major selling point to those seeking to invest or expand in our state.

West Virginia has turned the corner on economic development and job creation. After several difficult years, we are seeing job expansions and announcements at a rate not seen for generations. 

Our citizens know that we are on the right path, and their vote on Oct. 7 was a clear signal to keep on the path of economic development and job creation. We must keep our foot on the gas and continue the reforms necessary to make West Virginia irresistible to business. 


Steve Roberts is president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

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