As an energy leader, WV needs champions - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

As an energy leader, WV needs champions

Posted: Updated:
Brooks McCabe Brooks McCabe

Brooks McCabe is managing member and broker of West Virginia Commercial LLC. He has been involved in commercial and investment real estate for more than 30 years, and he also is general partner of McCabe Land Co. LP. He has served in the West Virginia Senate since 1998, and is a special project consultant to The State Journal.

The Marcellus Shale affords West Virginia the chance to become an energy leader on a global stage. This requires West Virginia to reinvent itself as a multi-dimensional energy state that is agile and capable of having its industries seize opportunities on a moment's notice. This requires private sector investments in infrastructure and a public regulatory system that encourages innovation while protecting the environment.

Most importantly, this requires a new mindset that looks to the future with confidence. One that empowers the citizens of West Virginia to strive for the bright future everyone has been dreaming of for years, but until now, hesitant to make an unwavering commitment. For this to happen, champions are needed to create a sense of urgency and to define a path for future prosperity that can be embraced and internalized by residents of the state.

For West Virginia to capture the full opportunities afforded by the Marcellus Shale, these champions need to come forward now. There is no better occasion than the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Business Summit. Only at the Business Summit is the full breadth of West Virginia's business community represented at one time and place. And there is no better place than The Greenbrier Resort, for it is here that its owner, Jim Justice, is helping to show the country that West Virginia can represent the best of the best.

If the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, WV Roundtable, WV Manufacturers Association, WV Independent Oil & Gas Association, WV Self-Insurers Association, WV Trucking Association and all the other business associations line up with the major companies, colleges and universities in the state, and these organizations all work toward a common goal of repositioning West Virginia as a leading energy state, West Virginia could create a future unimaginable heretofore. The major champions of this new economy may well be at the Business Summit given that the focus for this year's Summit is energy and education.

The champions of West Virginia becoming a globally recognized energy state need to first instill a new sense of opportunity into the hearts and minds of all West Virginians. It must be understood that this opportunity can benefit the entire state, not just north central West Virginia. The possibility of a resurgence of manufacturing is the home run. The champions of this new economy must present a vision that is clear, concise and exciting. The opportunity is for a sustainable economy based on energy and manufacturing that will be decades in duration and, in the truest sense, can be self-sustaining.

An energy leader on the global stage needs transportation systems including natural gas pipelines, a well-maintained road system, a high-quality inland river transportation system and an efficient rail system with competing carriers. It needs a smart energy grid with the capacity and resiliency for the needs of the 21st century. It needs champions to cause this to happen quickly.

An energy leader on the global stage needs ethane crackers to produce the feedstock for midstream and downstream manufacturing facilities. This is the big payoff that must aggressively be pursued. It needs new gas-fired power plants to supplement state-of-the-art, coal-fired plants. It needs the diversity of renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, solar and even geothermal, West Virginia's next big energy source. West Virginia has had a history of having the capacity to export electricity produced by fuel supplied from within the state. This legacy has been threatened in recent years; this trend must be reversed. For West Virginia to fully benefit from its energy resources, it needs to manufacture value-added products within its borders, whether it be electricity, ethane, polyethylene or any of the thousands of additional products which can use ethane-based feedstock. Time is money. Lost time is lost opportunity. Champions are needed to create the focus and the will to cause this development to occur in a timely manner.

An energy leader on the global stage needs an educational system and a trained workforce capable of providing the skillsets needed for the new economy. West Virginia has lost a generation of workers through its contracting, manufacturing and mining workforce. Reversing this trend is imperative. An adequately trained workforce may be West Virginia's biggest shortcoming going forward. Business champions are needed to cover the flanks of the state's educational leaders for the bureaucracy within the oversight boards and departments have the potential to dramatically slow the redesign process which is so desperately needed. Everyone has good intentions, but hard-fought regulatory controls are difficult to give up. Champions are needed to empower our educational leaders with the confidence to do what is needed in spite of what might be strong headwinds.

Look how far West Virginia has come since 2009 when the first Marcellus Shale horizontal well was brought online. What is amazing is that this is just the beginning. The state's future is bright. For this future to be fully embraced and accomplished, much needs to be done. The state has only scratched the surface, so to speak, when it comes to meeting its full potential. Champions must come forward and be on a mission to help West Virginia be what it has the potential to become, an energy leader on the global stage. There is no better place to start than at the 2014 Business Summit. The business leadership is assembled in force. Hopefully the Business Summit will be a call to action for each association and each business to join with our colleges and universities and become the champions that will get West Virginia across the finish line.

Powered by Frankly