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GUEST COMMENTARY: How Will WV Ever Get Its Groove Back?

Posted by kinchendavid on July 20, 2006

What so many West Virginians who are over the age of fifty

forget is that everyone in the younger generation has a difficult time remembering throngs of people walking on city sidewalks on their way to work across the Mountain State.

Visit with a Huntingtonian, Charlestonian, or Wheelingite and you’ll hear tales of lunch hours with great crowds of people checking out stores downtown.

Those were the days.

 

We still have stores and some fine ones. But enough people

have left West Virginia for jobs elsewhere to take our Congressional Delegation from five to three in the past four decades. And our young people flee to nearby states with hotter economies: Ohio to the west, Virginia to the east, and all manner of points south.

The one time that West Virginia’s thirty or fortysomethings can remember as being more prosperous was that last major economic episode while they were growing up during the oil crisis/coal boom of the early 1970s.

The state even had budget surpluses as a rule–and most everyone who wanted a job could find one, as coal production stimulated ancillary industries and businesses throughout the Mountain State.

Now, the coal boom/bust cycle continues, only without as many miners needed. And while we still have coal and timber in abundance, the lesser the number of employees, the lesser the market for the businesses that remain. Ask Charleston merchants sometime what the loss of chemical

jobs in the Kanawha Valley has done to their shrinking clientele.

 

Any candidate running today in West Virginia, whether statewide or local, who doesn’t show us that they have seriously investigated the economy here has a short-sightedness startling enough to avoid casting a vote for them.

The economy of West Virginia — while a tired subject–is still the elephant in the middle of the room.

 

Those candidates who have investigated our real options and new ideas for job creation not only deserve our thanks. They deserve our support at election time. Anyone who hasn’t looked into our economic options is obviously

running just to be a somebody — not to help West Virginia be something great again.

 

West Virginia needs to get her groove back. And she’s waiting for the right suitor to have the courage to ask her to dance. And then to lead.

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