Investment: Announcement may signal brighter days for W.Va.

Gov. Jim Justice calls it the largest investment in West Virginia’s history. State Commerce Secretary H. Wood Thrasher says it is the latest in a significant line of foreign investments that will strengthen and diversify our economy. Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., calls it an unparalleled economic development opportunity.

However it is described, it seems as though the grand terms used in reference to China Energy Investment Corp. Ltd.’s planned $83.7 billion investment in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in the Mountain State might not be hyperbole. Years of effort to promote West Virginia as a resource-rich, beautiful and potential-filled state populated by people with an unmatched work ethic are finally bearing fruit. The kinds of companies taking advantage of all we have to offer — China Energy, Toyota, Hino, Gestamp, Sogefi and more — are (relatively) new to West Virginia, but also are familiar in their desire for skilled tradespeople.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., called West Virginians “the hardest working people in the world.” Company executives around the world are clearly getting that message, and they may be among the keys to transitioning our economy in a way that helps us hold on to the pride in our hard work West Virginians have always cherished.

It will be up to us, of course, to make sure we are good partners with these corporations while also safeguarding our precious, wild, wonderful natural resources; and our people. And yes, public officials, it is possible to do both.

Thrasher and his team appear to be doing an excellent job of pursuing opportunities that will indeed grow and improve West Virginia’s economy and bring jobs. Such changes could go a long way toward the solutions for other problems faced by the state, such as the substance abuse epidemic and other physical and mental health woes.

Thursday’s announcement brought with it much excitement and hope. We now eagerly await what Thrasher and the rest of the state’s economic development folks have up their sleeves as an encore.

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