Economy

On The Legislature Today, host Andrea Lannom sits down with John Deskins, the Director of West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research to talk about the state’s economy, the hits it's taken, the challenges still ahead, and the investments we need to make for desired returns.

Elk
CommonsHelper2 Bot / Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia's fledgling elk herd will get another boost from a recreation area in Kentucky.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan and Mingo counties will receive 17 elk from Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.

Chuck Hampe working on his 64,872nd table base -- his last -- before he retired from Gat Creek after 31 years.
Jean Snedegar

On the campaign trail and in his first State of the State address in February 2017, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice talked about boosting furniture manufacturing in West Virginia. 

One of the most successful furniture manufacturers in the state is in Berkeley Springs.

Still from White House video

Donald Trump loves coal.

He campaigned on a promise to put miners back to work and his first year in office included numerous Ohio Valley visits to highlight coal’s importance.

“I love our coal miners and they’re coming back strong!” Trump said to a roaring crowd at an August rally in Huntington, West Virginia.

West Virginia Lawmakers to Discuss Taxes, New Court

Jan 6, 2018
Capitol
davidwilson1949 / wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers are looking forward to doing work that doesn't involve trying to dig West Virginia out of a deep financial hole, although they're not ready to declare the state's dilemma over.

House Speaker Tim Armstead and Senate President Mitch Carmichael, both Republicans, were upbeat during the annual Legislative Lookahead forum Friday about the potential progress that can be made in the coming months under Gov. Jim Justice. Justice took office last January as a Democrat. He switched to the Republican party in August.

This week on Inside Appalachia: wildlife experts agree the Eastern Mountain Lion is extinct. So why do so many people across Appalachia swear they’ve seen mountain lions? Have they? What did they really see? WMRA’s Andrew Jenner and Brent Finnegan explored the stories behind mountain lion sightings in the mountains of central Appalachia. What they found, made them question the expert opinion.

Updated at 1:26 a.m. ET Wednesday

Republicans in Congress approved a sweeping and controversial $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, with the Senate voting early Wednesday along straight party lines to move the measure forward.

Updated on Dec. 20 at 3:50 p.m. ET

The Republican tax bill, which Congress sent to President Trump on Wednesday, would give most Americans a tax cut next year, according to a new analysis. However, it would by far benefit the richest Americans the most. Meanwhile, many lower- and middle-class Americans would have higher taxes a decade from now ... unless a future Congress extends the cuts.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, coal retirees are joining forces on a bill with teamsters, iron workers and other unions in an effort to shore up ailing pension plans. Democrats want to see retirement benefits included in the omnibus spending bill needed to prevent a government shutdown.

As Becca Schimmel reports, 43,000 retired miners in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia depend on a pension plan that could be at risk without congressional action.

Lumber dries outside the Armstrong Flooring plant in Beverly, W.Va.
Jean Snedegar

In the next part of our occasional series on the timber and forest products industry – from seedlings to final products, we reach our first final product: hardwood flooring. Independent producer Jean Snedegar visited Armstrong Flooring in Beverly, Randolph County, and spoke with plant manager, Blaine Emery.

Opioids, opioid, painkillers, perscription, narcotics, doctors, narcotics
Dollar Photo Club

West Virginia University's chief economist estimates the opioid epidemic has cost the state economy nearly $1 billion from deaths, lost or underperformed jobs and public resources.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On the is West Virginia Morning, more than 1,000 Ohio Valley farmers used a complicated federal visa program to hire about 8,000 foreign workers for seasonal jobs, last year.

Farmers say the visa program is too bureaucratic, and a bill before Congress promises to cut red tape. But as Nicole Erwin of the Ohio Valley ReSource reports, labor advocates say the bill would strip guest workers of many protections in an industry where wage theft is already a problem.

Much of Appalachia’s economy has rested on the boom and bust cycles of industries like coal and manufacturing for decades. It’s true that these industries have long put bread on the Appalachian table, but as those industries have faded in recent decades, jobs have grown scarce. 

So are there industries that might one day provide more financial stability to the region? This week on Inside Appalachia, we learn more about some unexpected and unique ways Appalachians are thinking outside the box to earn money, like growing industrial hemp, installing solar panels and even growing tea.

Op-Ed: Massive Chinese Investment Pledge Could be Game Changer for W.Va. – If it Happens

Nov 20, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump waves next to Chinese President Xi Jinping after attending a business event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017.
Andy Wong / Associated Press

President Trump announced during a recent visit to China that state-owned China Energy would invest $83.7 billion in West Virginia over the next 20 years, but will it be good for West Virginia? Yes – if it happens, and if the state doesn’t give away an arm and a leg in subsidies and tax breaks to try to make it happen.

Unemployment Line
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

An annual Eastern Panhandle Economic Outlook conference was held in Martinsburg, showing job growth is steady in the Eastern Panhandle and is expected to grow in the coming years.

Are Black Walnuts Ready to Boom?

Nov 12, 2017
The front door of Gerlach Farm and Feed in Wheelersburg, Ohio advertises the start of the black walnut season. Hulling stations earn a commission of $0.05 per pound of black walnuts hulled, providing a good incentive for them to get the word out in their
Eileen Guo / 100 Days in Appalachia

The first car arrives over two hours before the hulling station officially opens in Jeffersonville, Kentucky. By the time that Renee Zaharie appears and starts the hulling machine, four more vehicles have pulled in and are waiting under the darkening evening sky.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, October was black walnut season in Appalachia. It’s when these green, tennis ball-sized nuts rain onto fields, roads, and sometimes, people. They can be dangerous. And their inky juice stains everything they touch.

But for some Appalachians, As Eileen Guo reports, black walnuts are proof that, sometimes, money does grow on trees.

Adobe Stock images/WVPB grpahic illustration

One of the major developments out of President Trump’s visit to Asia: A deal with China to invest $250 billion in the U.S.  The largest portion of investment comes from the world’s biggest power company, which plans to invest in West Virginia’s natural gas industry.

Charles Town, Jefferson County, Charles Washington Hall, Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

During a special session of the West Virginia Legislature in October, lawmakers passed a bill that makes redeveloping historic buildings in the state more viable, financially. The bill had widespread support from both sides of the aisle, but some are concerned it doesn’t go far enough.

Tradition so Rich, so Fragile, so Sweet

Nov 7, 2017
Farmers Donnie Tenney (left) and Charlie Radabaugh inspect sorghum canes at Tenney’s farm in Tallmansville, W. Va. before harvesting and processing into sorghum syrup.
Mike Costello / 100 Days in Appalachia

Gone from most kitchen pantries, sorghum keeps connections strong in some rural communities. Just a few miles down a narrow, winding road from Buckhannon, the seat of Upshur County, West Virginia, a carved wooden sign welcomes visitors to Tallmansville. At first glance, there’s not much to the rural village of around 400 residents, but I’ve spent enough time in these hills to know what little first glance says about a place.

A log passes through a saw at Allegheny Wood Products' Kingwood facility.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the next part of our occasional series on the timber and forest products industry – from seedlings to final products, we follow cut logs to one of West Virginia’s most sophisticated sawmills.  Independent producer Jean Snedegar spent some time at Allegheny Wood Products’ Kingwood Sawmill and Pellet Mill, with plant manager, Mark Wilson.

Kristi George / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia tax collections of $1.3 billion so far this fiscal year are 5.3 percent higher than last year, with October receipts nearing $354 million, both very close to budget projections, state officials reported Monday.

Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said the four-month results indicate the state won ‘t need to make midyear budget cuts like it did last year.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the poultry industry is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow faster work speeds at some facilities that slaughter and package chickens. The industry says a new inspection program allows them to process hundreds of birds per minute. But as Nicole Erwin reports, worker and food safety advocates worry about higher speed in an industry with an already spotty safety record.

Kasey Jones/ Jonesborough Farmers Market

A series of training seminars will be held around West Virginia aimed at boosting farmers markets and farm production.

The first seminar will be held Tuesday at the Country Inn in Berkeley Springs. Additional seminars are scheduled for Nov. 9 at Jackson's Mill near Jane Lew and for Dec. 14 at the State Fairgrounds in Fairlea.

West Virginia Office of the Governor / via Twitter

A new company that makes whiskey barrels out of white oak wood has been born from efforts to rebuild a devastated West Virginia community following deadly floods.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley Resource

Thelma Daulton goes to the salon to get her hair done at the same time every Friday. She gets picked up at her house and greeted by one of many familiar faces from the Rural Transit Enterprises, Coordinated, or RTEC.

Daulton is 95 years old and has been riding the public transit system in Somerset, Kentucky, for about 15 years. Daulton said her daughter would like for her to move closer to Bowling Green, but Daulton likes her community and has no intention of leaving.

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley region has disproportionately high numbers of seniors and people living with disabilities and on low incomes -- those are all groups that frequently depend on public transit. Without transit, older people lose independence, and reaching a doctor or workplace becomes much harder. 

A new report finds that demand for transit in rural areas is climbing faster than in cities. But as Becca Schimmel reports, spending on rural transit is not keeping pace with demand.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to end the Clean Power Plan is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to support the struggling coal industry. The Department of Energy is also pushing a new way to subsidize coal power. But as Glynis Board reports, a new study suggests that market forces -- not regulations -- will still make more coal power plants in the region vulnerable.

Money, Cash
2bgr8 / Deviantart

The West Virginia State Treasurer’s office said in a news release it paid out $1.45 million in claims last month.

Unclaimed property can include abandoned safety deposit boxes, stock dividends left uncashed or a final paycheck left behind. By law, holders of such assets are required to turn them over to the Treasury.

Field representatives with the Treasurer's office conduct outreach by tracking down property owners through in-house records, courthouse files and checking other documents. 

courtesy Emily Hilliard

Here in Appalachia, it’s apple season. And that means apple growers are sending this year’s crop to farmers markets and grocery stores. But the majority of the apples grown here get sent to manufacturers to be used in apple sauce and apple juice. By the way, did you know that Golden Delicious Apples originated right here in West Virginia?  In fact, apples are our state fruit. 

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