Economy

Will W.Va. Get an Ethane Cracker Plant?

Nov 14, 2013
Odebrecht logo
wikimedia / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced this afternoon that a Brazilian petrochemical company, Odebrecht, has chosen a site in Wood County to explore the possible location of an ethane cracker plant and three polyethlene plants. 

The governor was disappointed when Shell announced a few years ago it was choosing Pennsylvania over West Virginia for a cracker plant.  And he’s wanted one ever since.

Growing entrepreneurship. That was the focus of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s annual conference in Charleston.

Members from the 13 Appalachian states shared their experiences and ideas on how to create an environment that will encourage entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses into the future, but many agreed it starts with education.

Fire in downtown Marlinton
Heather Niday / Allegheny Mountain Radio

Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith says a fire that destroyed four buildings is devastating for his city.
 
     The Sunday fire displaced several businesses and about a dozen residents. The fire rekindled Monday.
 
     In addition to displacing people, Smith says the fire will have a significant economic impact. He says the city has lost some of its tax base.
 

Rick Haye - Marshall University Communications

Forums held across southern West Virginia this week are focused on budget cuts in higher education. Sponsored by Marshall University, a forum Thursday evening in South Charleston will allow legislators to hear new ideas on how colleges and universities plan to deal with the cuts. Thursday's discussion is the last in a series of three such forums.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

West Virginia's tax revenue slide is continuing as October's collections fell about $8 million below estimates.
 
     Deputy revenue secretary Mark Muchow tells media outlets that collections of personal income, consumer sales and business and occupation taxes were all below estimates.
 
     Personal income and consumer sales taxes are the state's biggest sources of tax revenue.
 
     Natural gas production boosted severance tax collections above estimates. But Muchow says it wasn't enough to offset the declines.
 

In downtown Parkersburg sits the federal Treasury Department's headquarters of the Bureau of the Public Debt. Employing more than 1,800 at that location, the agency is responsible for managing, selling and accounting for the more than $17 trillion that U.S. taxpayers owe to themselves, to Social Security, and to foreign investors. The federal government is also Parkersburg's largest employer.

West Virginia tends to get put on a lot of lists that ultimately reflect poorly on the state. Here's one that we can all be proud of.

  A Marshall graduate recently visited Huntington to share a story of motivation. The alumna now owns a company that specializes in using technology for marketing campaigns.  

Paula Tompkins spoke to college students and alumni last week at the Marshall University Foundation Hall. The native Huntingtonian and alum of Marshall had a complex, but simple message. To succeed in the business world entrepreneurs have to be persistent, focused and find an idea that’s not already addressed.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The economic outlook for West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle over the next five years looks good according to West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

The state has added about 3,000 jobs since the middle of last year according to this year’s Outlook report. John Deskins, Bureau director, presented the outlook for the Eastern Panhandle to a ballroom full of business leaders from Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties gathered at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn, beginning with a look at the statewide forecast.

A new, free hospitality training program is available online. WV Welcome is a free course designed to help folks in the tourism industry better serve guests from out of state.

Jerry Henderson became an advocate for hospitality when she opened her own Bed and Breakfast about 20 years ago in Buckhannon.  She now serves as the treasurer of WV Hospitality and Travel Association and says knowing the best ways to be a gracious host is not only good for business, it’s good for the state.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Public Service Commission got an earful from Eastern Panhandle electric customers unhappy with Potomac Edison’s billing practices during a public hearing Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Customers are upset because last winter and spring they received estimated monthly bills that were much higher than normal. In some cases the electric company did estimated readings several months in a row. Delegate Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson) was among those who spoke during the hearing.

The Horizontal Well Control Act of 2011 required studies be conducted to gain a more profound understanding of all that's entailed in the natural gas drilling that's sweeping northern West Virginia. Those reports are coming due, and legislators are hearing from scientists who have been looking into the matter.

Two major reports are being discussed in Charleston this week. One looks at air and noise pollution, while another considers water use related to Horizontal Well drilling.

1. Air and Noise

Ashton Marra

The governor, the legislature, even a special commission on highways are all looking for ways to fund state roads. A select committee on Infrastructure is trying to find ways to save money and increase efficiencies by combining the Division of Highways and the governing authority of the state’s Turnpike, but simply combining the two would create serious legal implications for the state.

Shane Flanigan

An Israeli General Consul is in West Virginia this week visiting lawmakers as well as both Jewish and Christian groups.

Sideman met with members of a Morgantown synagogue yesterday who were not happy with his participation in an event featuring a prominent evangelical Christian politician.

Cultural Ties?

region1workforcewestvirginia.org

West Virginia historically has one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the nation according to statistics from WorkForce West Virginia, but the director of research for the organization told lawmakers it may be more than an older population contributing to that number.

Director Jeff Green defined workforce participation as the percentage of the population over the age of 16 actively seeking employment or already employed.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new Kentucky café caters to Alzheimer’s patients and their families.

Arts and Culture provide economic development in one Kentucky county.

A new book profiles one of West Virginia’s most picturesque river valleys.

And ink lovers turn out for the first WV tattoo expo.

Twelve Senators are reaching across the aisle on a deal to end the government shutdown and increase the federal debt limit before Thursday, the day the country would likely default on its debts if Congress doesn’t act. One of the 12, Senator Joe Manchin said default is not an option.

by Rob Elliott / Arizona Raft Adventures

Kathy Zerkle is a river ranger for the National Park Service who works in Fayette County in New River Park, and, you guessed it, she’s out of work these days. Furloughed. And while she’s concerned about what that means for the safety and well-being of the New River Park and the public that visit, and her personal future financially, she’s also concerned about how the government shutdown impacts the Grand Canyon—or at least her ability to experience it.

Ashton Marra

A majority of the furloughed West Virginia National Guard members and support staff are returning to work this week because of a movement in Congress to extend military pay to reserve members.

But the state’s top-ranking Guard official said a return to work doesn’t mean those members, and the overall safety of the state, won’t continue to be affected by the federal government shut down.

“The Guard in West Virginia will overcome obstacles and we’ll make things happen to take care of our people in this state, but we shouldn’t have to operate this way.”

West Virginia Citizen Action Group says it will appeal the approval of a $1.1 billion deal for the sale of the Harrison Power Station.

State Fair was fine despite bad weather, fewer visitors

Oct 8, 2013
Evening at the State Fair of West Virginia
The State Fair of West Virginia

The State Fair of West Virginia said this year's event was a success, despite rain that reduced attendance.
 
State Fair Chief Executive Officer Marlene Joliffe said in a news release that the 89th annual event saw about 175,000 visitors, down from the decade's average of about 180,000-195,000 fairgoers.
 
Rain fell on five days during the fair's eight-day run in August in Fairlea, WV.
 

WVU

West Virginia University President James Clements outlined goals, challenges, and triumphs during his fifth State of the University address Monday, October 7th, 2013.

In the last four years, Clements says, university enrollment has grown by 4 percent to 32,595. He also noted significant growth in private giving.

Commissioner John Musgrave presents check to David Feamster and family.
Mike Ross / WV Lottery

A coal miner is the state’s newest millionaire after winning the West Virginia Powerball.

Ruskin Air and Sound Control announced Monday they will close their manufacturing plant and office in Fairmont effective July 31, 2014.

Govrnor Earl Ray Tomblin sitting in front of a blue background at a table with small, international flags in front of him.
Ashton Marra

Governor Tomblin announced a trip later this month touring 5 European countries to lobby business leaders for investment in West Virginia industries.

The fourth series of Inspiring West Virginians  features one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, John Forbes Nash, Jr, a 1994 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Nash grew up in Bluefield, West Virginia, and the town still holds an importance for him. Now 84, John Nash is currently a Senior Research Mathematician at Princeton University in New Jersey. 

 

Josh Hall
Ben Adducchio

The Economic Freedom of the World report ranks the world's economies, listing how each provides freedom of choice to its citizens.

Director of the State Budget Office Mike McKown , Secretary of revenue Bob Kiss and Deputy Secretary Mark Muchow in the House Chambers.
Ashton Marra

Newly appointed Secretary of Revenue Bob Kiss and members of his department presented an overview of last year’s budget to lawmakers. Legislators scrutinized the governor’s last minute decision to cut almost $18 million from Medicaid to balance the budget at the end of the last fiscal year, but they were also given some crucial insight into the revenue numbers for this year.

Republican state leaders have been arguing for years that the state tax rates are preventing businesses from bringing jobs to West Virginia. Projected growth shows that while they may not come at the same rate those lawmakers want to see, jobs will come as the national economy turns around. There’s another factor, however, that’s starting to worry educators when it comes to the state’s economic future. And that’s the number of highly skilled workers ready to fill those positions.

In her first appearance before legislators, Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling said the department is not yet prepared to release a detailed response to a performance review completed earlier this year. Instead, she shared some generalizations about major issues the department is trying to address. The biggest of those issues is hiring and retaining the necessary personnel to run the state’s largest agency.

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