Showcasing the positives

It is not normally a good idea to get into a back-and-forth online, over politics. However, I was following a conversation the other day that actually turned out to be relatively civil and brought up interesting points on both sides. Among the questions being discussed was why Tennessee has found so much economic success when West Virginia has not.

My immediate reaction was to think, Well, they have Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, the Smokies … Dolly Parton …

I was coming up with excuses.

What does Tennessee have that West Virginia does not (besides about 5 million more people)?

Well, they have a strong, diversified economy — automotive manufacturing, energy — including nuclear and renewables, health care, agriculture, film production, tourism, and smaller manufacturing — including chemicals. They also have low business costs and workforce development programs, which “Business Climate” called “an ideal climate for advanced manufacturing location and expansion.” They do a pretty good trade in country music, mountains and whiskey, too.

All of that — with the possible exception of the nuclear plants — could happen in West Virginia.

Tennessee does not have an income tax that applies to salaries and wages. They don’t need it.

And it is, by the way, a majority Republican state, with a Republican governor and Republicans holding the majority of seats in its state Senate and House of Representatives.

So ask yourselves, what (or who) is holding back West Virginia?

Charleston native Joey DiPiero is working to fight one of the challenges faced by the Mountain State.

“We certainly have problems in our state, but there are also a lot of great things going on here that the rest of the country would never know about unless they followed our local news,” DiPiero said. (Thank you for that, sir.) “Back in December 2016, after seeing another slough of negative headlines, I finally had had enough and decided to create something about West Virginia that for once just focused on the positives.”

So he compiled a YouTube video “The Mountie County Challenge,” in which all 55 counties get a little love when their interesting bright spots are highlighted.

Think four seconds per county is not enough? Think he missed some spots? Then do something about it.

Imagine if all you knew of West Virginia was our politicians, and the news that makes it to the national outlets.

What would you need to see to change your perception?

What can you show the rest of the nation about West Virginia that would bring visitors, and maybe a few employers, to the state?

DiPiero is still working to find creative ways to spotlight the best things about the Mountain State. Join him.

Show that we are not what too many in the political arena have been content to let us remain.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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