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Only real change brings lasting prosperity

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  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Political gains are wasted if health changes don't happen

    Political gains are wasted if health changes don't happen

    Friday, September 12 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-09-12 12:00:30 GMT
    West Virginia is the most obese state in the world's most obese nation, according to an annual report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health.
    West Virginia is the most obese state in the world's most obese nation, according to an annual report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health.
  • Big announcements should spur positive action

    Big announcements should spur positive action

    Friday, September 5 2014 9:50 AM EDT2014-09-05 13:50:45 GMT
    Our state's natural gas industry is growing in amazing ways. Just this week, it was announced that Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas Co. and AGL Resources are proposing a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with natural gas supplies from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
    Our state's natural gas industry is growing in amazing ways. Just this week, it was announced that Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas Co. and AGL Resources are proposing a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with natural gas supplies from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
  • Business community must raise a voice against status quo

    Business community must raise a voice against status quo

    Friday, August 29 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-08-29 13:00:23 GMT
    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.
    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.

West Virginia's continual exploration and development of natural gas is the gateway to something better. Gas extraction, development, transportation and utilization are expected to create high-paying jobs. 

We have been blessed with a second chance. West Virginia has been an exporter of natural resources for most of its history, but with coal and timber and even early oil extraction, we largely missed the opportunity to translate our natural resources into second-stage manufacturing or finished products with the good, stable jobs rooted in states where the business environment was perceived as more attractive.

We're already seeing a hint of what's possible in some areas of the state. Once again, it will be West Virginia providing the nation, and now the world, with reliable power. But when will it become politically popular to make decisions for the future, albeit changing and unsettling today's status quo? We already have forecasts of population decline. This only further reduces our potential tax base. Our current leaders in all branches of government seem more fixated on protecting what they have vs. creating a opportunity for everyone.

We have to find the political will to transform our tax, judicial and educational systems and infrastructure to change these trends or our future will be predetermined to be one in which others, again, capture the major benefits from our natural resources and we remain a state wherein, unfortunately, many key economic and lifestyle indicators remain in decline.

There is no quick fix, but we need to start down this path. A few successes can become contagious. The future is bright in this state and we must harness all that makes our workforce the best if we are going to see this through. What we must not do is have a repeat of what we saw during the 2014 legislative session. Even the most optimistic observers have labeled the session a dud. 

Dynamic, forward-thinking leadership is a must if we are going to capitalize on what clearly is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Business leaders and those who initiate investment understand risk, but they always look to elected bodies to determine if they will have a level playing field. 

No matter how aggressively Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and his staff court executives, the data is clearly not on our side. If given a chance, our workforce can get the job done and compete with anyone the world over. Potential and promise have never been an issue. What slows us down is a political class far too invested in the status quo to ever push for true reform. They waste time and energy on petty, partisan fighting and think up ways to best retain their power. Even now, with the majority party challenged in ways many thought impossible just a few years ago, they refuse to reach out or create a platform that gives our people a chance. Quite simply, a prosperous West Virginia is a better West Virginia.