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Turning W.Va. Economy Around

Voters hoping for a miracle-worker as West Virginia’s next governor are doomed to disappointment. Our state’s economy is a train wreck in progress. Full recovery will take more than one or two gubernatorial terms.

But the longer we delay doing what is necessary to begin the steep climb back, the longer we and our children will pay the price of refusing to face reality.

What we need to do was outlined well last week by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole. As president of the state Senate, Cole, of Mercer County, already has begun attempting to reverse the decline.

Pointing out West Virginia is the only state where fewer than half the working age adults have jobs, Cole stressed last week that promoting new employment opportunities is crucial.

His jobs plan has several components:

∫ Improving workforce readiness. It is a two-way street, as Cole noted. First, the state has to ensure every West Virginian who wants work has the training to get a job. But second, it also is important that potential employers know they have access to skilled workers.

∫ Defending the ever-dwindling energy sector of our economy. There is little state officials can do in that regard, because it has been the federal government assaulting both the coal and natural gas industries. Still, Cole and other officials such as Attorney General Patrick Morrisey need to continue the fight they have been waging.

∫ Doing more on regulatory reform. With Cole leading the campaign, legislators earlier this year repealed 172 unnecessary regulations that made it more expensive to do business in the Mountain State. More red-tape cutting is essential.

∫ Improving access to high-speed broadband. Cole understands that needs to be a priority.

∫ Implementing a strategy to increase manufacturing in West Virginia.  There are various ways to bring more good-paying manufacturing jobs to the state. They include leveraging our vast reserves of natural gas, regulatory reform and providing more skilled workers. Cole’s plan relies on these and other tactics.

∫ Making the state’s economic development efforts more effective.

As Cole pointed out last week, West Virginia “is at a turning point.” Our economy must be diversified — and there are specific, proven ways to make that happen. Unless we as a state embrace them, the train wreck will only grow worse.

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