MOV chamber discusses legislative goals

CHARLESTON – The Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley will be following the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s goals for the 2014 Legislature.

“Our Government Relations committee did not develop position papers for the upcoming session,” said Jill Parsons, Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley president. ‘The West Virginia Chamber released a document at the annual meeting in August called the ‘Four Pillars For West Virginia Growth.’

“Upon review the committee felt the Four Pillars closely aligned with our viewpoint for the year.”

The West Virginia Chamber unveiled the “Pillars” at its 2013 annual meeting held at The Greenbrier over the summer.

The “Pillars” outlines four main categories that require attention to improve West Virginia: education and workforce readiness, business climate, quality of life and good government, and infrastructure and economic development.

“These four pillars are fundamental to improving prosperity in West Virginia and provide an outline of what the Legislature should devote its attention to each session,” West Virginia Chamber President Steve Roberts said. “The West Virginia Legislature has made changes in recent years which have made small steps toward improving West Virginia’s economy and well-being, but much more remains to be done.”

The education goals include having an effective K-12 public schools to prepare students for 21st century jobs and produce a globally competitive workforce; having a strong community and technical college system working in sync with West Virginia employers and coordinated with public schools and higher education to develop and prepare a well trained workforce; and having a demand-driven world-class university system engaged in fostering the success of West Virginia businesses committed to leading the nation in innovation and transformation.

In creating a good business climate, the State Chamber supports a competitive and sustainable tax system to stimulate growth and job creation that does not unduly burden business and individual investment; tax reform that eliminates property tax on manufacturing equipment and inventory so West Virginia will be in line with states that are experiencing a growing economy; and market-driven solutions to rising health care costs for West Virginia businesses and employees to help manage and lower costs and provide access to medical services.

In providing good quality of life and good government, the State Chamber supports effectively fighting crime and drug abuse and promoting safety as priorities; a greater emphasis at the state and local level must be placed on the promotion of healthy living; holding all levels of government to a standard that is effective, efficient and transparent; fostering community growth and civic pride; the constant monitoring and improvement of workplace and school safety; and a full scale commitment to coordinated action to overcome factors affecting the health and well-being of every West Virginian, things such as tobacco use and obesity.

Under infrastructure and economic development, the State Chamber wants development of access to locations for manufacturers and producing companies to build businesses, expand the state’s jobs base and provide West Virginians with good-paying, full time jobs; revision of policies used to determine wages to better support employment opportunities; sufficient physical infrastructure, including transportation, water and sewer, energy and broadband to meet future needs; and measures to provide public safety, modern infrastructure and more opportunity.

Roberts said that five years ago there were 25,000 more people working in West Virginia than there are today.

“This should be a wake-up call to every individual in elected office that continuing to do more of the same is not working,” he said. “The West Virginia Chamber looks forward to working with those in office to implement the changes necessary to grow West Virginia.”