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Collaboration and commitment can build the best West Virginia possible

September 9, 2018

West Virginia is redefining itself to become a vibrant provider of opportunity for those living and working in the Mountain State.

This was the theme resonating at the 82nd WV Chamber Annual Meeting and Business Summit recently. With more than 1,000 participants in attendance, it was difficult to not hear positive comments about our state and the changes underway. Each reason gave cause to celebrate and to support the message of West Virginia’s comeback story.

Attendees listened as speakers and presenters explained changes making a difference. Topics included broadband expansion, the state’s future in energy, and work underway to battle opioid addiction. From discussion to discussion at the three-day event, attendees experienced a wave of optimism that West Virginia is headed in the right direction, what we now call the West Virginia Advantage.

The Advantage to living and to doing business here is changing the face of the state. It also is presenting evidence that our best days are ahead. The Chamber believes it’s time for every West Virginian to share in this belief — and for many reasons. In two years, West Virginia:

• increased its state revenue by 3.5 percent.

• experienced the nation’s 11th-highest wage growth since the Great Recession.

• demonstrated the 8th highest GDP growth in 2017.

• collected 6.4 percent more in personal income tax.

• collected 25 percent more in severance taxes.

• increased mining jobs by 2,700.

• added 4,100 new construction jobs.

• increased natural gas marketed production by 21.7 percent.

Just as impressive as the statistics, the optimism is energizing. The vigor, created from the improvements during the last two years, was palpable at the meeting and cannot wane as the state goes into closing 2018 and beginning 2019. There is more work to do to move the needle toward economic prosperity.

This means West Virginia, its leaders and people cannot tire of pursuing what is needed and appropriate. We must all strive to create conditions needed to bring more jobs and a better quality of life by focusing on progress.

The Mountain State is on the road to become the state we know it can be — a state where jobs are available and the economy is its strongest. If we broaden the wave of excitement seen at the Annual Meeting and Business Summit, tomorrow holds great promise. This can be met through envisioning what can be, collaborating and working together to seize every opportunity.

The Chamber understands vision and collaboration are needed to make great things happen; this has been our purpose and mission as an organization for 82 years. The Chamber is committed to this and to building an environment that welcomes and supports businesses of all sizes, promotes economic prosperity, and provides a quality of life for every West Virginians. There is no issue or challenge West Virginians cannot overcome when we work together. I believe this and ask you to join the Chamber as we work to toward the best West Virginia.

Steve Roberts is the president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. To learn more about the organization and its mission, visit www.wvchamber.com.

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