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Hospitals, Schools Are Top Employers

October 1, 2011
By CASEY JUNKINS - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Just about seven years after its opening at The Highlands, Cabela's is Ohio County's third-largest employer, according to statistics from WorkForce West Virginia.

"We are certainly glad they are here. The lived up to the employment part of the deal," said Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart of Cabela's, the entity he and other county leaders initially attracted to help spur the growth of The Highlands.

The Top 10 employers for each of West Virginia's six Northern Panhandle counties include hospitals, schools and retailers, along with a few entertainment businesses and some manufacturers.

Article Photos

Photo by Casey Junkins
With its collection of outdoor sports supplies and wildlife exhibits, Cabela’s is the third-largest employer in Ohio County.

"Twenty or 30 years ago, our economy was much more geared toward manufacturing. Now, we have much more of a focus on health care and service related businesses," said Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce President Terry Sterling. "Our business community has faced the same economic pressures others have, but we are doing our best to adapt to the new economy."

Ohio County saw its unemployment rate decline from 7.7 percent in July to 7.4 percent in August, according to WorkForce West Virginia. The county is the only one in the Northern Panhandle to feature a lower percentage of people looking for work than the statewide average of 8 percent for August.

The per capita personal annual income for Ohio County is $36,869.

"We have a very solid banking system here. A lot of the places that had to deal with vast foreclosures are really hurting, but we are still hanging in there," Sterling said.

Marshall County's, unemployment rate seemed to be fairly steady from July to August, remaining at 8.9 percent. The county's per capita annual income, according to WorkForce, is $31,330.

The county's unemployment rate remained stable at 11.1 percent in July and August. Personal per capita income for Hancock County is $31,839.

Though the face of the local economy continues to change, Sterling said the natural gas drilling activity continuing to increase in the area provides a "tremendous opportunity."

"There are millions of dollars being invested here right now, and there should continue to be more," he said. "This will be a huge economic impact for years to come."

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