Marketing W.Va. On Two Fronts

West Virginia needs to be seen as both “wild and wonderful” for tourists and “open for business” for job creators. A new marketing campaign envisioned by state officials should have both aims.

Legislators are being asked to approve $20 million in funding for the state Tourism Office, to be used in marketing programs such as advertising.

Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby believes she can leverage the funds to bring in really big bucks. She says tourism marketing should have a return on investment of about eight-to-one, resulting in about $160 million pumped into the economy through the $20 million expenditure.

Mountain State residents have every reason to rely on Ruby’s expectations. She already has proven to be good at her job, using creative social media marketing.

But at least some of the money ought to be used to target business growth outside the tourism industry. Some states — notably, New York — spent lots of cash in advertising aimed solely at job creators. The promotions made the Empire State sound like a mecca for businesses.

Here in West Virginia, we have a lot to boast about in that regard, too. The past couple of years have brought enormous strides in making the state’s regulatory and court climates less antagonistic toward business. More regulatory reform and tax relief is on the horizon.

We can do both, attracting tourists and job creators to the Mountain State through the $20 million campaign.

Legislators should provide the money, stipulating that it be spent in a two-pronged approach to economic development. We need to let the world know West Virginia is a wonderful place to visit, to live and bring up children — and to do business.