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Diversifying our economy will make it more resilient

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  • Transition team must act with urgency

    Transition team must act with urgency

    Friday, December 16 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-16 11:00:16 GMT

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

  • Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Friday, December 9 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-09 11:00:15 GMT

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

  • Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Friday, December 2 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-02 11:00:19 GMT

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

We have been hit hard with some tough economic news in recent days about our state’s most recognized industry. We learned that Alpha Natural Resources could lay off more than 1,000 workers later this year. Another report showed that it is becoming cheaper for domestic energy producers to import coal from other countries than to use what is mined in the U.S.

Wringing our hands and pointing a finger at Washington will not help. The only meaningful course of action is to find ways to diversify our economy and make it more resilient.

To do this, we need our lawmakers to understand what it takes to make an economy grow and expand. We certainly cannot predict the future, but we can take a holistic, long-term view of what must be done. Quite simply, we need a tax code that is business-friendly and does not penalize a business when it expands or reinvests. Granted, we have made some progress in recent years, but so much more must be done. We know what happens when businesses are allowed to operate beyond the system. Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Putnam County plays by a more equitable set of rules. This company has flourished in amazing ways.

We also must make our courts a place where fairness and justice trump politics. The term “Kangaroo Court” gets bandied about far too often, but all participants in a case must know, going in, they will be judged on facts and a reasonable interpretation of the law, not on political whims. Legal recourse is serious and we disrespect the system when justice is trumped.

Education must also be a priority. Even the most progressive, business-friendly environment will mean little if we fail to prepare our young people and students for the 21st century. Competition is strong. Our students will one day go head to head with the best the world has to offer. Rather than cater to the special interests, those who control educational policy must find ways to truly challenge our young people, empower teachers and allow administrators to do their jobs.

The need is apparent and urgent. Coal will always have a place in our nation’s energy mix and West Virginia will be a vital part of that dynamic, but the status quo is no longer an option. A better West Virginia is one that embraces change and finds new, innovative ways to give our people a lasting shot at the American Dream.

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