State leaders meet in Elkins to discuss economic strategy, high-speed broadband access


State representatives from both major political parties and the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, came together Thursday in Elkins to discuss the future of West Virginia’s economy, and how to stabilize the state’s decreasing population.

“It does go back to the economy,” Delegate Cody Thompson says. “It goes back to education, it goes back to a multi-faceted approach of bringing people to this state. Marketing this state in a way that we bring people from other places, bring them in from other states, bring people back home.”

Thompson is beginning his freshman term in Charleston, and said he sees education as the catalyst for economic prosperity.

“Education is tied into the economy,” Thompson said. “We need a place with a high quality of life. Well, how do you get a high quality of life? You have a good strong education system.”

Legislators also brought up the need for high-speed broadband connectivity. State Sen. Greg Boso said it’s a must for businesses, schools and residents.

“Obviously, when you look at those types of industries, like Verizon and AT&T, who do it on a for-profit basis, it’s very difficult for them to invest in very rural regions where they’re not going to have the development of revenue off of those sources,” Boso said. “So, the state’s going to have to put some money into that for that to occur.”

Boso said the state, in partnership with the federal government.. needs to put  an infrastructure to make it easier for communications companies to bring the entire state into the 21st century.

“At least build the infrastructure so that it encourages them to branch off of that infrastructure that we put into rural regions where they have small communities, where they can be economically profitable in those regions,” Boso said. “But more importantly, it allows us to be able to get kids in the local communities a way that they can connect and be able to have connectivity, to whether it’s a company in California or in New York City, they have that connection.”

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