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Opinion: West Virginia showing the vision to develop its economy

Trade with Taiwan can help further economic development in West Virginia

By Don Smith, executive director

WV Press Association

When it comes to growing economic development in West Virginia, despite all the rhetoric, there is a single most important element:

Don Smith
  • Workforce
  • Funding
  • Sites
  • Infrastructure

No. Those are all very important but secondary to vision.

Vision — You must see opportunity to grow a state’s economy. And make no mistake, West Virginia is growing its economy. It’s an active and ongoing process.

However, you don’t celebrate groundbreakings, build factories, and get new jobs in West Virginia one year unless state leaders had the vision to see an opportunity in previous years.

The Governor, the State Legislature, the office of Economic Development and others have seen opportunities and acted by promoting West Virginia, reaching out to businesses and industries, approving tax incentives, developing sites and, perhaps most importantly, continuing to search for the next opportunity.

The most recent example of this vision: The West Virginia Taiwan Office at the Taipei World Trade Center.

Trade with Taiwan can help further economic development in West Virginia, but it takes vision to see that opportunity.

W.Va. State Senate President Craig Blair, Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, Secretary of Economic Development Mitch Carmichael, Economic Development Director Mike Graney and other state representatives recently visited Taipei to open the office, which will serve as a hub for promoting West Virginia as a prime location for Taiwanese investment and assisting West Virginia businesses with exporting their products and services to Taiwan.

The office should benefit West Virginia, but our leaders had the vision to see that the office should also help Taiwan: As more companies in Taiwan seek to expand their global footprint, a West Virginia Taiwan Office can assist with investment opportunities.  It can be a win-win proposition.

Working to attract new business and industrial investments into West Virginia is difficult and the competition is fierce, but you can’t win if you don’t play. It also helps if your partner is successful.

West Virginia will always be playing with a “short stack,” as the state has limited resources in terms of those key secondary elements:

  • Workforce
  • Funding
  • Sites
  • Infrastructure

However, if they have vision and lookahead for such win-win opportunities, our state leaders can continue to grow economic development in West Virginia.

We should recognize and applaud their vision.