Public-Private Effort Pays Off

Seldom does government actually create or even preserve private-sector jobs. Most of the time the primary contribution politicians can make is to hold down a company’s regulatory burden.

But in Wellsburg, government actually has pitched in to assist two small businesses.

A rail spur serving Graphic Packaging and Eagle Manufacturing was in jeopardy of being classified as inoperable by the Norfolk Southern Railroad. That would have created shipping problems for the two companies, which between them employ more than 320 people.

But the spur will remain in service, thanks to about $38,000 in repairs funded by a five-way partnership. As was appropriate, Graphic Packaging paid $18,000 of the cost, with Eagle Manufacturing providing $9,000.

Another $5,000 each came from the West Virginia Public Port Authority and the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, an economic development organization serving Brooke and Hancock counties. Even the city of Wellsburg helped out, with $1,000.

What is noteworthy about the deal is that it involves local and state governments, a regional economic development entity and the private sector – harnessed together to help the Northern Panhandle economy.

The situation is not unique, of course. Occasionally such collaboration involving businesses and government occurs, almost always to the benefit of area residents.

As Jeff Tarr of Graphic Packaging put it, however, “It’s a big deal. … Outside the state, the perception has always been that West Virginia is a difficult place to do business. This kind of changes that perception …”

Indeed, it should. All involved are to be commended for a public-private partnership that really does safeguard jobs.