Economy

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a fire at a US Steel plant crippled its ability to control its air pollution in December. For three months, the Pittsburgh area was blanketed with releases of sulfur dioxide much higher than usual, and thousands reported suffering from poor air quality. Last week, the steelmaker finished repairing its pollution control equipment. For State Impact Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier reports that the worries about air pollution and its health impacts, remain.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Historically, the coal industry has shaped the economic boom and bust cycle in our region. But major changes to the industry have created new strains on our economic system here in Appalachia, and some wonder if a radical fix is needed to support the poor or underemployed middle class. Some Democrats in Congress have pointed to an idea, called Basic Universal Income, as one possible solution. Lovey Cooper, contributing editor with 100 Days in Appalachia, co-wrote an article about Basic Universal Income, or UBI,  and about what supporters and critics of this proposed economic program have to say.


Eric Douglas / WVPB

West Virginia is home to numerous beverage companies that brew beer, distill spirits and syrups and press cider. The state also boasts farmers who produce fruits and grains those bottlers could use.

The problem is the two groups are often disconnected.

The “Craft: Farm to Bottle Summit” in South Charleston earlier week this aimed to address that gap, bringing the two groups together and helping each understand the other’s needs. The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) in Huntington organized the summit. More than 100 people attended.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an almost decade-long effort to build a major underground natural gas liquids storage facility in the Ohio Valley saw movement this week, as state and federal politicians announced initiatives to move it forward. But as Brittany Patterson reports, not everyone is on board.

Mineral County
David Benbennick / Wikimedia Commons

The global security company Northrop Grumman is expanding its West Virginia plant located in Mineral County. The move is expected to create hundreds of new jobs at the site.

Sweet Equity: Ohio Valley Farmers Tapping Into Tradition

Apr 3, 2019
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

When Seth Long first began experimenting with maple syrup production, he tapped hollow pegs called spiles into individual trees, collected drips of sap in milk jugs, and carried each gallon down the the steep mountainside on foot.

Kentucky Called A 'Warning Signal' On SNAP Work Requirements

Apr 3, 2019
USDA

The federal government is considering a work requirement for some people who get food assistance through SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A new study uses Kentucky as an example of what that change could mean for the country.

The SNAP rules require 80 hours of work a month and cap assistance at three months over three years. This applies to able-bodied adults without children. The rules have been around for a while but hadn’t been enforced until recently.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the West Virginia Treasury Department has joined a coalition of 27 states in an effort to tackle the nation’s student debt crisis. News director Jesse Wright spoke with State Treasurer John Perdue about the initiative and how parents can help support their children’s higher education aspirations from birth.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

The makers of TurboTax and QuickBooks are bringing 200 to 500 jobs to West Virginia.

News outlets report Intuit Inc. has announced it's building a "prosperity hub" in Bluefield. The Mountain View, California-based information technology company produces the consumer tax preparation application, the accounting program and other products.

2016 Flood
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Greenbrier County commissioners are looking at options to help families who were hoping for federal money to rebuild homes lost in the 2016 flood.

The MARC train's Brunswick Line parked at the Martinsburg Train Station. Photo taken in Apr. 2018.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The MARC Train, or Maryland Area Regional Commuter, serves about 250 West Virginians who live in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.

The train has been serving the area for more than 30 years, but Maryland has always paid the bills. West Virginia was only responsible for upkeep of its three West Virginia stations.

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.

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