Economy

Hannah Hedrick / Grow Ohio Valley

In this time of crisis West Virginia Public Broadcasting is reaching out to community leaders working on the frontlines to help their towns and regions.

Danny Swan is executive director of the nonprofit Grow Ohio Valley — an organization based in the Northern Panhandle committed to promoting regional food security.

He shared these thoughts on regional food security and ways Grow Ohio Valley is trying to improve individual and community health throughout the upper Ohio Valley and throughout the state.

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 

As restrictions on daily activities tighten and confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise, across West Virginia many community-based food pantries report more people are using their services. 

While federal food resources are being expanded during the pandemic, some organizations operating on the ground say they are grappling with how COVID-19 is changing day-to-day operations.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

At his daily press briefing today, Wednesday, March 25, Gov. Jim Justice announced West Virginia Schools would remain closed until at least April 20. 

The governor also responded to the recent jump in confirmed coronavirus cases, which rose from 20 to 39, as of Tuesday evening. State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp reported that most of those victims were outpatients who did not require hospitalization. 

Danny Swan

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s latest executive order reacting to COVID-19 means non-essential workers need to stay home, but some small businesses are able to remain open — including an European-style bakery that sells wine and other products in the Northern Panhandle.

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

As the economic fallout from the coronavirus continues to reshape our lives, small-town business owners are worried about the future. Whitesburg, Kentucky —  a town already struggling from the decline in the coal industry — is grappling with a new and serious challenge as the effort to contain the disease brings deep economic pain. 

 

West Virginia tourism officials are letting the public know the services that restaurants are offering during the coronavirus scare.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

This story was updated at 5 p.m. EST with the latest positive case count.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced new tourism-related restrictions Friday, March 20. By Friday afternoon, the state Department of Health and Human Resources reported eight positive cases of the coronavirus in the Mountain State. 

Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice has issued an executive order that will allow more West Virginians affected by the coronavirus to receive unemployment benefits. The order follows the closure of many businesses that have forced thousands of layoffs.

Ohio Valley Automakers Hit Brakes To Limit Coronavirus Transmission

Mar 18, 2020
Courtesy Toyota

Automakers across the Ohio Valley are temporarily closing their plants in response to the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the big three U.S. automakers — Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler — and Toyota. 

Courtesy Berkeley County Schools

Schools across West Virginia closed Monday, March 16, for at least two weeks in an effort to help stem the transmission of the coronavirus. 

Since the shutdown was announced, West Virginians around the state have been working to make sure students are fed. According to the West Virginia Department of Education, more than two-thirds  of school-aged children, or more than 183,000, qualify for free or reduced-priced meals. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Governor Jim Justice has announced an expanded set of business closures in hopes to combat the spread of coronavirus.

At a Wednesday news conference, Justice announced that gyms, health clubs and recreational  facilities are being directed to close for two weeks. 

Food Service Fallout: Coronavirus Closures Hit Ohio Valley Workers

Mar 16, 2020
Tim Sharp / WOUB

Ray’s Harvest House in Albany, Ohio, had to lay off 11 people following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s order that all bars and restaurants close dine-in services. Denise Hager was a cook at the restaurant and said she’ll miss seeing and talking to all of her regular customers.

“I don’t like it, but then again I don’t have any control,” Hager said. 

Hager said she isn’t sure what she’ll do about the financial hit she’ll take from not working.

Restaurant owners and food service workers in the Ohio Valley are worried about their livelihoods now that Governors in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana have ordered all bars and restaurants closed to dine-in customers.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State lawmakers wrapped up the 2020 legislative session this weekend in Charleston. We’ll hear about what lawmakers did and didn’t accomplish this year on this West Virginia Morning, plus more…


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, there’s more and more conversation about what a transition away from a coal-heavy economy might look like in the state. But for many, it’s a hard reality to swallow.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia has long been known for its apple production. But apple farmers are struggling and orchards are disappearing.

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

When you think of some of West Virginia’s biggest economic drivers, extractive industries like coal or natural gas are likely the first things that often come to mind. But agriculture has been a fixture in West Virginia’s economy for hundreds of years. Yet today, farmers struggle to keep their business afloat. Take apple farming, for example. West Virginia has been producing apples since the late 1800s, even exporting them out of state. Now, as the cider industry expands, there’s an increasing demand for local apples. And some people think this is one economic development opportunity the state is overlooking. 


We bring you a special report and discussion on the challenges faced by West Virginia’s farmers. We also bring you the latest news from the Capitol.

Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

John Fuller is waiting for another farmer he’s never met before to talk about a situation he never imagined he would be in.

It’s an overcast January day on his farm in west Kentucky, where he grew 18 acres of hemp last year, investing more than $250,000 of his own cash. He’s one of nearly 1,000 licensed hemp growers in 2019 who helped grow Kentucky’s biggest hemp crop since the state reintroduced it, trying to cash in on what could be a $1 billion industry for CBD products made from hemp.

But now, Fuller is wondering how much of that investment he’ll get back.

Courtesy Braidy Industries

A controversial economic development project in Ashland, Kentucky, hit a snag last week as aluminum company Braidy Industries ousted CEO and board chairman Craig Bouchard. In a statement, Braidy Industries’ interim CEO said he appreciated Bouchard’s hard work for the company. Bouchard says the firing was improper and is refusing to step down.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as part of our occasional series “Wild, Wondering, West Virginia,” Lana Lester, of Wyoming County, submitted this question to Inside Appalachia: “Could West Virginia Be Self-Sustaining?”

She said she, “always had the feeling that God Blessed West Virginia with all of our natural resources, and we have everything there in the state to survive.”

Grocers In Rural Towns Struggle To Stay In Business

Jan 20, 2020
Gwen Christon with the new coolers that keep her energy bills low at the Isom, KY, IGA.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

There’s a picture frame on the wall next to the customer service desk in the IGA in Inez, Kentucky. Inside the frame is a scrap of beige meat-counter paper, on which a man named Derle Ousley sketched the layout for an ad announcing the opening of his very first grocery store. 

“Inez Supermarket Grand Opening,” it reads. The date: September 28, 1959. 

Miners and supporters block the railroad in Pike Co., Ky.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

A group of Kentucky coal miners who blocked a railroad track for three days over unpaid wages have ended their protest, claiming victory with their paychecks.

Miners and their families began standing on the tracks leading from Quest Energy in Pike County on Monday, preventing a train loaded with coal from leaving. The miners said they hadn’t been paid since Dec. 16.

The Clorox Company

The Clorox Company says it plans to build a new manufacturing facility that would employ 100 workers in West Virginia.

Company officials told The Journal that they took the first step in the process of locating to the area by filing draft plans with the Berkeley County planning commission. Plans call for the plant to be located in the Tabler Station Business Park.

There’s a new focus on hunger at the West Virginia Legislature. We'll hear about the newly formed Hunger Caucus, and host Suzanne Higgins sits down with the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay.

Ohio Valley Farmers Cautiously Optimistic About U.S.-China Trade Deal

Jan 14, 2020
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Trump administration is set to sign a deal Wednesday, Jan. 15, with Chinese trade officials for what they call “Phase One” of a trade agreement after almost two years of false starts and costly, retaliatory tariffs. Ohio Valley farmers are cautiously optimistic the truce will be a turning point, but some are skeptical about the details about the partial deal.

More Unpaid Appalachian Miners Stage A Coal Train Blockade

Jan 14, 2020
Miners and supporters block the railroad in Pike Co., Ky.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

For the second time since summer, eastern Kentucky coal miners are blockading a railroad track to protest unpaid wages. The new blockade, which was started Monday afternoon by Quest Energy miners, echoes the months-long blockade by Blackjewel coal miners over the summer and speaks to a growing discontent in Appalachian coal country.

Adobe Stock

Thousands of customers remained without electricity in West Virginia on Sunday after severe storms swept through the state.

Adobe Stock

West Virginia’s governor says a technology company has agreed to open a research facility in the state to look into using coal to make carbon-based products.

Gov. Jim Justice gave additional details about the agreement with Ramaco Carbon on Thursday after mentioning the research center in his State of the State speech.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, it’s been more than a year since the video game Fallout 76 was released. The game takes place entirely in a fictional, post-apocalyptic West Virginia, and players from around the world work together to reclaim the land. The game is part of a series of popular video games created by Bethesda Game Studios based in Maryland.

Adobe Stock

A West Virginia coal miner died while working at a Murray Energy mine, Gov. Jim Justice’s office said Tuesday, Dec. 24.

Raymond Leonard Starkey Jr., 21, of New Martinsville, was fatally injured Monday while helping to repair a beltline at the Marshall County Coal Company Mine near Cameron, Justice’s office said in a news release.

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