Economy

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs began a series this year called Opportunity in America from its national network of teen reporters. It examines the tough choices young people face these days.

A team from Morgantown High School led by senior Alia King and teacher Tiphani Davis worked with SRL producers to investigate how young people are searching for economic mobility. We hear the story the team of students produced, which aired on West Virginia Public Broadcasting television stations last week.

Elliot P. / Wikipedia Commons

West Virginia receives the fourth most federal funding of any state in the country, according to a new analysis.

Toyota Driving Demand For Solar Power In Ohio Valley

Mar 18, 2019
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Automaker Toyota is planning to announce a major investment in solar and other renewable energy in Appalachia and the Southeastern U.S. The plan includes a massive new solar facility on an old surface coal mine property in Kentucky.

Sources close to the deal tell the Ohio Valley Resource that the Kentucky site is part of a much larger plan. Toyota plans to purchase as much as 800,000 megawatt hours per year, or roughly 365 megawatts, of renewable energy, primarily from developers in Appalachia and the South.

Toyota

The automaker Toyota announced Thursday major new investments in facilities in Kentucky and West Virginia to increase production of hybrid vehicles. Toyota plans to invest about $750 million in facilities in five states with almost half of that going to its plants in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, already the largest Toyota facility in the world, will get a $238 million boost.

Distress Grows For Ohio Valley Farmers As Trade Deals Stall

Mar 18, 2019
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Kentucky Farmer Barry Alexander doesn’t have an answer on when the Trump administration will reach a trade deal with China, now a year into tariffs that have hamstrung some Ohio Valley industries.

Alexander is optimistic these continued negotiations will be worth it, but his plan in the meantime lies in massive, silver storage bins on Cundiff Farms, the 13,000-acre operation he manages.

Ohio Valley Farmers, Electric Cooperatives Push Back On Trump’s Budget Cut Proposals

Mar 18, 2019
Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

West Kentucky Soybean Farmer Jed Clark, like many Ohio Valley farmers, is in a tighter financial situation because tariffs from the trade war and market forces have depressed crop prices.

“We’ve had a collapse in our grain markets,” Clark said. “We’re seeing some of the lowest commodity prices for wheat we’ve seen in a long time.”

Trump Budget Proposal Cuts Funds for Hal Rogers’ Prison Project

Mar 18, 2019
Pixabay images

The Trump Administration released on Monday details of a 2020 federal budget proposal that includes cutting funds allotted for a new federal prison in eastern Kentucky. The funds would be redirected to other law-enforcement or natural security priorities, potentially including a wall at the southern U.S. border.

The proposed cut rebukes arguments made by Congressman Hal Rogers, the powerful Kentucky Republican who has promoted federal prisons as economic development for communities struggling with high unemployment.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the Trump administration’s trade talks continue with China and other countries, farmers are feeling the pain from the president’s year-long trade war. Tariffs on agricultural goods are compounding problems caused by low crop prices and over-production. The Ohio Valley ReSource's Liam Niemeyer reports that small farms are suffering the most.

John Deskins / West Virginia University

Economists at West Virginia University say parts of the state are seeing job growth after economic downturn, but other areas have a longer road to economic recovery.  

AllVoices.com

Police in West Virginia say two men are accused of stealing equipment from an electrical transformer at a coal mine.

James and Deb Fallows

Deborah and James Fallows wrote a book called "Our Towns A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America". The husband and wife duo bought a small low-altitude plane and spent just over four years traveling 100,000 miles throughout small towns across America. 


Automation For The People? Ohio Valley At High Risk For Job Losses

Mar 14, 2019
Amazon employs 2,500 people at its Jeffersonville, IN, facility.
J. Tyler Franklin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Amazon employee Andre Woodson made his way among yellow bins traveling through a vast warehouse filled with boxes and envelopes to be packed, sorted and shipped. In Amazon-speak, this is a “fulfillment center.”

“Our Jeffersonville, Indiana, fulfillment center is about 1.2 million square feet, which is equivalent to about 28 football fields,” Woodson explained.

Wetzel County 4-H and FFA Ham Bacon and Egg Sale
Corey Knollinger / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Across the state, high schools offer career and technical education to give students a leg up in their fields before graduating. These programs can include skilled trades like welding, shop classes, or even meat processing.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley has seen its share of workplace disruption with job losses in manufacturing and energy sectors. But a recent report warns that thousands of the region’s service, transportation, office and warehouse jobs could also be at risk. This time the threat is a coming wave of automation. The Ohio Valley ReSource's Becca Schimmel explores what automation could mean and how the region might adapt.

Adobe Stock

Facebook says it’s going to help expand broadband internet in West Virginia.

The social media company announced a plan Monday, March 4, to build a high-capacity fiber optic cable network in the state that internet providers will then be able to access.

A bill that would revive film production tax credits in West Virginia has passed the House of Delegates.

Last year Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation ending the state's program after an audit showed the $5 million in annual credits produced little economic benefit.

Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

In the mid-1980s, West Virginia joined other states in a heated bidding for a Saturn vehicle assembly plant. Saturn was considered a brand-saver for the struggling General Motors, and many states viewed the Saturn plant as salvation for their own economies, bringing the promise of generations of well-paying middle-class jobs.

Pixabay

Vivian Livingood is the mayor of Gilbert, a southern West Virginia  town of under 500 people that has struggled for years without reliable internet. Livingood said that hampers Gilbert’s tourism, businesses and schools.

“We get kicked off the internet here every two minutes, and that’s if we can afford the internet,” Livingood said. “And it’s just pitiful service. It’s not fast.”

The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH

On the night of July 24, 1916, a natural gas explosion near Cleveland trapped workers in a waterworks tunnel beneath Lake Erie. Rescuers sent in to recover the trapped men were themselves felled by “noxious fumes.”

The Cleveland authorities knew just who to call: Garrett Morgan, an inventor who had recently given a demonstration of his breathing contraption.

Morgan arrived at the scene still wearing his pajamas. With his strange breathing device strapped to his face, Morgan, along with his brother and another brave volunteer, descended into the muddy disaster site.

New ARC Grants Combine Economic Recovery and Addiction Recovery

Feb 27, 2019
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced Thursday another $22.8 million in funding to 33 projects aimed at revitalizing economies in places affected by the decline in the coal industry.

Goods stored at God’s Pantry’s warehouse in Lexington. which serves 50 counties from central to eastern Kentucky.
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

A bill to allow drug felons to receive food stamps has passed the West Virginia Senate.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill Tuesday. The House of Delegates has already passed the bill but now must concur on a Senate amendment that would exclude felons whose crimes involved death or injury.

Hemp’s Heyday: It’s Finally Legal. Now, Can Ohio Valley Farmers Cash In?

Feb 11, 2019
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Inside Winkin’ Sun Hemp Company in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, store owner Doug Flight tries to position himself in front of a camera crew.

His experience with growing and selling hemp spans years. But memorizing lines for what he says could be the first hemp TV commercial in the state is another issue.

“I know, I grow,” Flight says to the camera. “Is that it?” Flight asked.

“It’s ‘I know because I grow,’” someone with the camera crew said back.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Hemp growers in the region hope a recent change in federal law means they can finally profit from a plant that had been in legal limbo.

The latest Farm Bill legalized hemp, which can be used for products ranging from clothing to soap and herbal remedies. Now it’s up to states to decide how to handle hemp. But as the Ohio Valley ReSource's Liam Niemeyer reports, not all states in the region are ready to cash in on the hemp heyday.

It's never been harder to hire long-haul truck drivers, even though companies are making the job more lucrative, less aggravating and more inclusive.

The driver shortage stretches back a quarter century, and lately a run-up in freight demand, staggeringly high turnover rates and waves of baby boomer retirements are compounding the problem.

Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

While a three-week reprieve to the 35-day government shutdown is easing some of the pain, the month-long spat between President Trump and Democrats in Congress threatened the livelihoods of people receiving government assistance all over the country. Local economies are still feeling the ripple effects, and many fear the new negotiations could lead to another damaging impasse. 

Shelley Moore Capito Mostly Right about Recent GDP Growth, Unemployment

Feb 5, 2019
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., checks out the stage before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016.
Carolyn Kaster / AP file photo

In a recent op-ed, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., wrote that the economic environment in West Virginia -- and the United States as a whole -- is the healthiest it’s been in years.

In the op-ed, published Jan. 3 in the Daily Mail WV, Capito wrote that "the American economy had quite a year. In fact, our economy is growing at its fastest pace in nearly four years. Unemployment is at an all-time low."

Has Unemployment Not Fallen under Gov. Jim Justice?

Feb 5, 2019
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Unemployment has fallen across the country in recent years. But the West Virginia Democratic Party said in a recent tweet that it hasn’t fallen on Republican Gov. Jim Justice’s watch.

In a Jan. 9 tweet, the state party wrote, "FACT: Unemployment rate has not decreased since @WVGovernor took office. #wvpol #WVSOTS19"

Smoke billows from the Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Co. plant Jan. 31, 2019, in Wheeling, W.Va..
Chuck Kleine / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A West Virginia factory that makes frozen treats has been evacuated after a fire broke out.

News outlets report no one was injured in the fire Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Co. plant in Wheeling.

Food Aid A Concern As Government Shutdown Affects SNAP Payments

Jan 24, 2019
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

The partial shutdown of the federal government is affecting families depending on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program program, or SNAP. Benefits for February have come early as a temporary fix to avoid anticipated disruptions should the shutdown drag into another month.

But the leader of God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Kentucky, said the threat of hunger remains. 

John Deskins, Director of the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research, joins host Suzanne Higgins for a discussion on the state’s economy, areas of growth, labor force participation, and the employment growth forecast in West Virginia. We also have stories from reporters Randy Yohe and Danite Belay.

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