As governor hints at announcement, lawmakers pass bill to prepare development sites
As Governor Jim Justice and state development officials hint at an important upcoming announcement, state lawmakers will quickly consider a site readiness bill.
“We don’t often like to admit it to West Virginia, but the reality is, in large part, that economic decisions about the future of our state are made outside the borders of West Virginia,” said the Speaker of the House, Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay. .
“So one of the things we need to be aware of is whether we’re doing what’s necessary to deliver the right kind of package to make it attractive for businesses operating outside of our state to head to Virginia- Western. So our site selection bill, our site preparation bill, will be one of those that will move forward early in the process.
Economic development is one of the first themes of legislative action this year. Justice on Monday called an extraordinary session to consider a bill “providing certain tax incentives, based on certain investment and employment thresholds, to promote the development and expansion of a new heavy-intensive industry. of labor and capital in this state “.
Another appropriation bill aims to help the state’s Ministry of Economic Development capitalize on significant state revenues “to secure jobs and good for generations to come” and “to secure huge investments. statewide ”.
These are in addition to a bill on the preparation of an economic development site that will grab the attention of the House of Delegates at the start of the ordinary session.
Hanshaw said the bill would help the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Development sell more marketable sites and facilities to prospects who are considering investing in West Virginia.
He was speaking on Friday at the annual legislative review sponsored by the West Virginia Press Association, AARP and West Virginia University’s academic relations office.
“Time is as important as money. So it’s not enough that West Virginia is the cheapest place for a potential target to invest. It is also important that it is the most accessible place for an investment to be made. It means having a ready-made site on which a particular target could locate, ”said Hanshaw.
And he said that by preparing a site for economic development, communities can benefit more widely from the expansion of essentials like water and sewage.
“By installing appropriate utilities at a site that we are going to showcase and market as a development site, we can change the lives of people in some rural communities along the way as we develop water, sewage, gas. natural, electricity, broadband infrastructure for people’s homes, ”said Hanshaw.
Delegate Clay Riley, R-Harrison, also cited this bill as a priority. Riley is vice president of strategic growth for the Thrasher Group, a large West Virginia engineering firm.
“I think that’s one of the things you’ll see coming out of this legislative session,” he said. “We’re really good as a competitive state when we have the opportunity. I believe this site certification and site preparation program will not only increase the number of opportunities, but also reduce the risk for businesses looking to locate here.
“At the end of the day, companies are looking to get to market quickly. So if that can help us, I think it’s a great program.
Senate Speaker Craig Blair congratulated delegates for considering the bill.
“It’s not a Senate priority, but it could very well be,” Blair said, R-Berkeley, laughing. “Site selection is an initiative of the House that I am more than willing to adopt, and I know the Senate will.”
Senator Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, said he agreed the bill could be helpful for economic development.
“I agree with the site’s certification process,” Clements said. “I’ve always said West Virginia has been too responsive and not proactive enough to keep up with what’s going on.”
A large steel company, Nucor Steel of Charlotte, North Carolina, recently acknowledged evaluating locations in West Virginia. In September, the company specifically described the appraisal of a property in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania for a new state-of-the-art 3 million tonne plate plant. The new plate plant is expected to cost around $ 2.7 billion.
The company also announced a month ago that it was looking for a site to build a rebar micro-factory budgeted at $ 350 million. The company’s announcement indicated that it was looking for a site in the South Atlantic region.
Last week, the Governor of Justice hinted people should watch his next annual State of State Address for “really, really exciting news.”
“The State of the State, I really encourage you to log on and watch as there are going to be other major and major announcements in the State of the State and more and more goodness to come in there. ‘State of West Virginia,’ the judge said. .
Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael hinted at an upcoming revelation on Friday.
“What’s going on right now and what you’ll hear next week – it’s a taste of a huge opportunity in our state for private investment in West Virginia,” Carmichael said at the event. Legislative Lookahead.
“The governor has been very involved and committed in recruiting and attracting businesses to our state.”
Carmichael said efforts to improve the state’s business climate will continue to bear fruit.
“You will see the results in spades next week,” he said.