Bringing jobs back: Change people’s lives

I teach a leadership class at Pierpont Community College in Fairmont. Our last class of the semester was this week. If all goes as planned my students will all graduate in May. If they graduate and are drug free these students will have $40,000 to $50,000+ per year jobs looking for them. I explained to them what a unique position they are in. I believe that they are part of just the first wave of high wage-high tech jobs coming to our region. Being in that first wave if my students can learn to become leaders their career potential is virtually unlimited. They will need to have a strong work ethic, have integrity, be dependable, be teachable, be able to effectively communicate and have leadership skills. Based on what I have seen they are on the right track.

All of my students are currently working and going to school. None are married as yet. I asked them this week, “When you are making $50,000 to $60,000 per year plus overtime after you graduate, how are you going to spend that money? What do you think their top three answers were?

Buy a brand-new pickup truck. Not just any new pickup. They have a vision of the specific make, model, color, accessories and interior they want. They can probably smell the leather interior.

Buy a house. They are renting or living with family now and want independence.

Buy WVU season football tickets.

They told me going out to eat now means a fast food hamburger. They want to take their significant other out to a sit-down restaurant on Saturday nights when they are working after graduation. What does this all mean to our community to have our young people working in these career fields here? How will this help our local economy?

Someone will sell them pickup trucks. Those trucks will need repaired. Homes will be built or remodeled. They will buy groceries, big screen TVs and numerous household items locally. They will go to movie theaters and eat at local restaurants. They will PAY TAXES. Soon they will need baby furniture, toys and clothes. They will need health care, financial planners and attorneys. They will pay for these services. You get the picture.

Without local high wage jobs young people may do what my three children did, leave West Virginia to find those jobs. Maryland and Virginia reap the economic benefits and taxes my children and their children create while our state lost population and tax base.

We are turning this around. We are creating jobs here. Local companies are expanding. Local companies are quietly hiring. The Japanese are here. The Chinese are coming and other companies in Asia, South America, Europe and in other parts of the USA are looking. The real work is just starting. We need to have a workforce training for these jobs. We will need infrastructure improvements. We need to begin to win the war on drugs. That starts with giving people HOPE that I have discussed previously.

I’m excited that we are beginning to give our young people choices. Soon they won’t have to leave unless they really want to see the world. My students know what it is like to earn $20,000 to $25,000 per year. It isn’t pretty. We always hear about jobs in renewable energy. I was told by the owner of a solar power company that he pays his installers $25,000 per year.

We need to do better than that if we want our children to stay here. We need manufacturing and petrochemical jobs if we expect to grow our economy.

I love seeing young people and adults who have hope and are excited about the future. Local businesses can be excited about this growth.

One big advantage my community college students have is that after two years of school they will have a degree that gets them a job with little or no student debt. What this means for local businesses is that these students don’t have big student loan payments and will have more money to spend.

I hope that you can see how creating high wage manufacturing jobs can change the MOV economy and create jobs and prosperity in many fields. This is our time to thrive if we understand the potential we now have and seize the moment. It may be the best Christmas gift we can give our families. Thoughts to ponder.

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Greg Kozera is the Director of Marketing for Shale Crescent USA www.shalecrescentusa.com. He has over 40 years of experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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