A moment for optimism
Too many people in the Mid-Ohio Valley, and West Virginia as a whole are so well-trained in keeping up their defenses and cynicism that I noticed the announcement of a planned nearly $84 billion investment in the state by China Energy Investment Corp. Ltd. did not receive the shouts of joy I might have expected.
Well, that’s not fair; I wouldn’t have expected them, because I didn’t shout for joy, either. I was thinking of other save-the-day “planned” investments that have not yet come to fruition, and decided to keep my optimism in check.
It’s a shame so many of us have gotten to this point.
One person I spoke with tried to turn me around and excitedly said “Think about it: The biggest single investment in the state is this $4 billion road project (Gov. Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity plan). Supposed to create all those jobs, right? That’s one time. This thing is that much every year for the next 20 years!”
My goodness, I hope it all turns out to be true.
I hope China Energy Investment turns out to be the kind of partner companies such as Toyota and Hino have been to the state, but on a much grander scale. I want to be able to shout for joy about the economic future of West Virginia.
So I will try to put my doubts aside and be excited about the prospects; as long as I can say this:
Economic development folks, public officials, lawmakers: Do not accept this big win and call it a day, please.
Keep looking for more. Keep branching out. Keep trying to achieve the smaller wins, too.
West Virginia has so much to offer — and, yes, our fossil fuels, and our skilled and hard-working people are very high on that list. But our state’s regions are so different from one another that even the big win might leave some behind. (Ask someone living in Morgantown, Wheeling or Martinsburg if they feel as though they live in the same kind of state as someone from Welch, Williamson or Logan.)
Keep looking for ways to help our craft brewers, distillers and winemakers attract business and visitors from out of state. Keep searching for opportunities to promote all we have to offer to travelers and adventure-seekers. Keep thinking outside West Virginia’s traditional box.
Help our incredible small businesses become bigger businesses (if they want to); help our bright minds and creative thinkers find reasons to remain West Virginians and raise their families here.
And do not let legislative and regulatory efforts to create a welcoming atmosphere for job creators (and those efforts are absolutely necessary) overshadow efforts to protect our air, water, land and people. Make sure that as time is spent weeding out the frivolous, burdensome rules that make it more difficult to do business here, there is also time spent enforcing the environmental, health and safety rules we need (even once we discover those are far fewer than some think.)
OK, there, I’ve done it. I got my naysaying off my chest. I guess I can join the party.
China Energy says it is going to invest almost $84 billion in West Virginia over 20 years! Whoohoo!
Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org