Think Far Outside The Box

Imagine the following conversation between an up-and-coming junior executive and his boss at a high-tech company in Silicon Valley:

“Boss, you know that new plant you’ve been talking about? I’ve found a great place for it.”


“West Virginia.”

“Have you been vaping THC again, Jones?”

“No, boss. Really. Because I’m so dedicated to you and the company, I checked it out. Actually went there. Great, hard-working potential employees. Quality of life you can’t believe. We can get in on the ground floor before our competitors across the valley find out.”

“Tell me more.”

Unless we West Virginians come up with a way to diversify our economy, preferably with high-tech, high-paying jobs, we’re going to be poor forever. Our children will continue leaving.

But we’re not like California, New York, Texas or any of the other states that can afford big incentives to lure companies here. Even making our tax structure competitive seems beyond our financial means.

Our reputation stinks.

Unless we come up with something really far outside the proverbial box, we’re stuck.

Here’s an idea: Set up a $20 million per year fund to promote the state. Identify 1,000 junior- or mid-level executives in companies we’d like to bring here.

Contact them and offer them each a one-week, all-expenses paid family vacation in West Virginia, with $5,000 in spending money thrown in as a special attraction.

Then be very, very certain they and their families have the time of their lives in the Mountain State. That shouldn’t be difficult.

Don’t even think of interrupting their relaxing, invigorating week with a sales pitch. But, as we’re putting them and their families on the plane to go home, hand them each a packet of information about the great things West Virginia can do for them and their companies.

Why not corporate CEOs and presidents? They have enough money to vacation in Tahiti and Paris. They wouldn’t be interested in a week in, say, Flatwoods.

If even one of those 1,000 folks we bring here talks his boss into opening a new facility in West Virginia, it’s $20 million well spent.

Crazy idea? Yep.

But let me hear your better one, please.

Still waiting …

Conventional economic development strategies just haven’t done the trick for West Virginia.

Many of our fellow Americans already view the Mountain State as far outside the box, so to speak. Maybe showing them how right they are — in a good way –could bring about the change we need so desperately.

What have we got to lose?

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.


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