Many of those who work with business development in West Virginia agree that things in the state are looking up.
Unfortunately, it may take a while for experts in other parts of the country to recognize that.
State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette can quickly list an impressive series of improvements and achievements in West Virginia, from reduced workers’ compensation costs to cutting the state business franchise tax and reducing the corporate net income tax.
But when CNBC ranked “America’s Top States for Business 2012,” West Virginia once again showed up near the end of the list — 48th to be exact. The network ranked the state’s “economy” 7th, which was an improvement. On other factors such as “business friendliness,” ”access to capital” and “infrastructure and transportation,” West Virginia was scored in the bottom 10.
The state got its lowest ranking on “work force,” coming in dead last.
That may be surprising to some, because we think of West Virginians as hard-working, industrious people known for their dependability and loyalty. Officials at the Buffalo Toyota plant have often made that point and noted that the West Virginia site rivals Toyota plants worldwide for quality.
But the CNBC study also looks at education levels, the number of available workers, effective training programs and union membership. For many types of businesses, particularly technology-based companies, those are critical factors. Some may look at the state and decide they would struggle to find enough workers with the skills they need to start up quickly and efficiently.
The good news is that is something the people of West Virginia can change, at least over time. The state is working to improve its education system from elementary and secondary schools to community colleges and universities. The resources are there for students and workers in the state to become more skilled and more attractive to business. …
While the state works to improve its business climate with a better tax structure and responsible state government, residents need to be taking the classes and making the changes to prepare themselves for the jobs that are here today and those coming in the future.
— Distributed by The Associated Press