Economy

Chuck Roberts

Administrators in higher education across southern West Virginia are joining forces to invest in economic development in the region. The initiative began at Marshal University and quickly spread to schools like Concord University in Mercer County.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we have the latest from the Capitol on the ongoing teacher walk-out and protest at in Charleston. With the continued approach of county school officials remaining in question, the potential of legal action to be decided by the state board of education and legislative deadlines looming, educators and school workers yet again plan to head to the Capitol in Charleston to rally lawmakers for better pay and health care benefits.

Adobe Stock

Every October, Gilbert  -- population 475 -- swells with visitors as 5,000 people come for TrailFest, which markets itself as one the premier ATV events on the East Coast. The tourism surrounding the Hatfield-McCoy Trail has helped make the Mingo County town one of the fastest-growing in the area.

Having reliable Internet access here is critical to building the local economy, said Gilbert Mayor Vivian Livingood, who said described the service as "snail-paced."

Benny Becker/ WMMT

For many years we thought that black lung was a disease of the past. But it has actually stricken a whole new generation of miners, and in some ways, it’s worse than before. 

Courtesy ICE

With Congress in a heated immigration debate, the Ohio Valley region is adding to its immigration courts. Sources within the Justice Department say Kentucky will have a new immigration court operating in Louisville as soon as April, and Ohio is adding additional judges to handle deportations and other immigration cases.

Recent immigration changes and heated rhetoric have left many people in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia with an uncertain future and lawyers and courts with a backlog of cases.

Rosa’s Story

Concord University's Marsh Hall Bell Tower.
Christopher Ziemnowicz / CZmarlin / wikimedia Commons

A recent report ranks one university in West Virginia among the top 50 public colleges where undergrads receive the most scholarship aid.

According to a study released by The Student Loan Report, a limited liability private company, Concord is ranked 49th out of 250 public college of universities.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We’ve fielded quite a few questions from people throughout the region who want to know more about a major deal the State of West Virginia struck with China Energy, the largest energy company in China. Glynis Board recently sat down with the director of WVU’s Energy Institute to get more insight into how this deal was made and what the implications might be. 


Touchstone Research Lab

Brian Joseph from Ohio County, West Virginia, has dedicated his professional life to innovation, reimagining and retooling old materials in the region with new technologies. 

Aneesh Sompalli (center) speaking at a Gereration West Virginia event in Shepherdstown.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Generation West Virginia’s local Eastern Panhandle chapter hosted a panel discussion at Shepherd University Thursday night with four young locals who decided to stay in West Virginia to build their careers.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we conclude our series Appalachia Innovators with a story about an entrepreneur from Ohio County who has dedicated his professional life to re-imagining and retooling old materials in the region with new technologies. Glynis Board reports.

John Nakashima/ WVPB

On a recent weekday, in a renovated building in downtown Huntington, 22-year-old Jacob Howell was among 20 people working at a laptop in a sunlit office. Senior web developers sat shoulder-to-shoulder with new employees at long tables. There wasn’t a cubicle in sight.


 

Howell, a Hurricane native, wasn’t sure where he might end up after graduating last year from Marshall University.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, people are leaving West Virginia at an alarming rate. From 2016 to 2017, more than 15,000 people left the state, or about 41 people per day. This trend is putting a strain on local businesses, making it tough for employers to find skilled, educated workers. As part of our Appalachian Innovators Series, Roxy Todd has the story of one organization that is trying to tackle this problem in a new way.

Pa. Trail Initiative Could Provide Roadmap for Some Struggling W.Va. Towns

Feb 7, 2018
The West Newton, Pa., rail trail.
Photo courtesy of The Trail Town Program

There’s a national storyline that’s told about parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It goes something like this: As the steel and coal industries fade, small towns are dying out. Young people move away because there’s a lack of jobs.

But for the past 20 years, some entrepreneurs have quietly been working on a different narrative -- one that harnesses the region’s natural beauty to build the economy. Their slow climb is starting to bear real fruit.

WVPB/ Janet Kunicki

Gwynn Guilford is a reporter for Quartz, a business news site. She specializes in writing about the economy. Guilford spent 10 months researching Appalachia’s economy for an article called “The 100-year capitalist experiment that keeps Appalachia poor, sick, and stuck on coal”. Guilford dug into the history of the region’s economic ties to the coal industry, and the long-term effects this relationship has had on the people who live and are determined to stay in Appalachia.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Roxy Todd spoke with Guilford about her report.


Procter & Gamble Headquarters in Cincinnati, OH.
Derek Jensen / wikimedia Commons / user: Tysto

Officials from Procter and Gamble have announced additional products will be manufactured at the Martinsburg plant and, as a result, more employees will be needed.

Since construction began in 2015 for West Virginia’s Procter and Gamble plant, the organization estimated a need for 700 full-time employees to be hired by 2019.

Peabody Energy, Inc.
Wikimedia Commons

At a recent conference in Lexington, Kentucky, economists and community leaders gathered to talk about the state’s current budget crunch and possible economic future. Peter Hille, president of Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, said Kentucky and other Appalachian states need to do more to build a new economy and move from dependence on a single source.

“Because coal played such a dominant role, it took the oxygen out of the room for the development of other sectors of the economy,” he said.

Janet Kunicki/ WVPB

When you picture the Appalachian Coalfields, you might think of those scenic photographs of mist rising from the mountains. But there are the less picturesque landscapes too -- views of mountaintops that have been stripped away from coal mining. Imagine if these barren landscapes were covered with purple fields of lavender.

Elk, Standing Elk
Albert Herring / Wikimedia Commons

Dozens of elk rounded up in grasslands of a northern Arizona wildlife area are waiting to be trucked to a new home in West Virginia.

Sandy Hamilton, Executive Director of the Berkeley County Development Authority.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Berkeley County is one of the fastest growing counties in West Virginia. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2013 and 2016, the population grew by 4,300 people. It’s also the second most-populated county in the state.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, The Legislature Today host Andrea Lannom speaks with John Deskins, the director of West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, about the state’s economy – the hits it's taken, the challenges still ahead and the investments needed to make desired returns. We have a portion of the that interview, which was taped live from the Capitol on Tuesday evening.

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.

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