CHARLESTON – West Virginia lawmakers, state economic development officials and higher education leaders are helping to bring more than coffee to Seattle for business recruiting. State Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and a bipartisan group of 16 lawmakers returned from Seattle, Wash., on Thursday after meeting with business leaders and visiting major manufacturing centers. The Seattle trip was the first scheduled visit for this year’s West Virginia tour. Other attendees included Department of Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael, Department of Commerce Secretary James Bailey, West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, Marshall University President Brad D. Smith and West Virginia State University President Eric S.
“The trip was good.” Blair spoke by phone from Seattle Thursday morning. “As we travel, we show Corporate America that we work together as a team. That’s one of West Virginia’s specialties. It’s a winning dynamic.”
“West Virginia’s trip to Seattle was well received.” House Republican Caucus Chairman Delegate Clay Riley said. “I think there are a lot of tech companies and manufacturing companies in the country that are looking to get into different industries. We want you to consider West Virginia.
The West Virginia tour visited the headquarters of Amazon Web Services, Boeing and Microsoft, and discussed business opportunities in West Virginia with the officials. Lawmakers hope these tours to states around the U.S. will help educate companies about the benefits of relocating and expanding their businesses in West Virginia, but Blair said something new is happening.
“Something different from last year to this year is that last year we judged businesses. “It’s starting to turn around where businesses are converging to West Virginia.” Blair said. “The qualities we have for our country are beginning to be recognized.”
“It was a different dynamic than some of the previous trips.” Riley agreed. “When we’re out there telling our story, it’s good to have a new audience to understand West Virginia in reality, not stereotypes.”
The delegation is entering these meetings with data in hand to demonstrate that West Virginia is ready for economic development. The state has the lowest manufacturing turnover in the nation. In the year In the last quarter of 2022, it is ranked fourth in terms of GDP growth. The state has begun adopting an open energy status for clean energy projects. West Virginia has the 14th lowest workers’ compensation rates since 2006. Lawmakers are introducing West Virginia’s recent 21.25% reduction in personal income tax rates, a 100% reduction in motor vehicle personal property taxes, and a 50% reduction. and equipment personal property tax. West Virginia hasn’t seen any new business taxes in 20 years. The state’s finances are stable, with a healthy rainy day fund and public pension fund in better shape than most states. The state is about to end the current fiscal year on Friday with more than $1.8 billion in tax revenue. Blair said that all these evidences are attractive for investment in the state.
“Now we’re playing against places like Texas and Utah in the playoffs.” Blair said. “These things come into play when businesses are thinking of locating here, relocating here or expanding. These are all elements.
“I think what you’ve seen on this trip is that we’re telling that story and people are listening, so now they’re trying to figure out how their mission fits with what West Virginia is doing and they’re figuring out ways to tell these tributes. Structures have evolved and changed.” Riley said. “That’s where West Virginia can come in.”
Other West Virginia Select tours are planned for other major technology and manufacturing centers across the country. Blair hopes businesses, industries and manufacturing will see West Virginia as a place to bring their workforce, helping to reverse the state’s continued decline in population.
“This is to keep that momentum going and bring economic development and job opportunities to West Virginia so that we have the tax base to work with West Virginia and build, repair roads and infrastructure.” Blair said.
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.