WHEELING - West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin promised West Virginia's top female high school students Tuesday there will be jobs waiting for them in the state when they've obtained more education and want to enter the work force in four years.
"For so many years, our young people have had to leave the state to find jobs," Tomblin said Tuesday to young women attending Rhododendron Girls State this week at Wheeling Jesuit University. "While many of them came back, many didn't. Now with the exploration of Marcellus and Utica shale, there are more opportunities for us.
"There is a real possibility we will see an ethane cracker in West Virginia along the Ohio River in Wood County in the very near future. With this cracker, I feel West Virginia will be able to attract thousands and thousands of new jobs here in West Virginia."
Photo by Joselyn King/West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is greeted by Rhododendron Girls State Director Michelle Sirbaugh, left, and Girls State Governor Chantal Kidd prior to addressing Girls State citizens at Wheeling Jesuit University Tuesday.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin addresses Rhododendron Girls State citizens.
By 2018, there will be a need for an additional 20,000 college graduates in the state, according to Tomblin.
"Whether you get involved with the chemical or polymer industries in West Virginia - or whatever you want to go into - there are going to be jobs waiting for you," Tomblin said. "Whether its education, science, technology, engineering, mathematics or nursing, jobs will be available."
He encouraged them to continue their education after high school by attending a four-year or two-year college, or a technical school.
"Not everyone has to get a four-year degree," Tomblin said. "Two-year degrees and technical school degrees are very much in demand, and sometimes the pay is just about as good. Whatever you choose to go into, just make sure you continue to learn and do put your best foot forward because that is what it is going to take.
"You are going to be our next leaders in West Virginia. One of you may be standing here someday as governor of West Virginia."
Girls State citizens asked Tomblin questions, such as how he came to enter politics and later become governor.
He explained that during Christmas break his senior year in 1973 at West Virginia University, he informed his parents in Logan County he wanted to run for the House of Delegates the following year. Tomblin had attended Mountaineer Boys State in 1969.
"I had always had an interest in politics," Tomblin said. "They thought about it a while, and said, 'Why not.'"
In the coming months, he returned home to Logan County from Morgantown to campaign. He won the Democratic primary election only days before his graduation from WVU, and went on to win the general election in November 1974.
Tomblin later went on to become president of the West Virginia Senate - and was appointed governor in late 2010 after Joe Manchin resigned to take a vacant U.S. Senate seat. Tomblin was officially elected governor in 2012.