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Will a start-up company in West Virginia achieve sustainable growth? What are the possible benefits of conducting business in this state? Economically, West Virginia has been quite strong and the Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 was $67.83 billion, which is quite a rise from the $62.16 billion in 2007. According to West Virginia Economic Outlook 2018-2022 Report published by Bureau of Business & Economic Research, the energy sector is considered an important driver of economic activity in the state. One of the key industries in the energy sector according to the report includes the natural gas industry, which peaked in terms of production growth by the end of 2014. One of the areas that the state economy excelled in is export where approximately $3.7 billion was generated through trading during the first two quarters of 2017.
Small state with big advantages
West Virginia’s welcoming business climate has attracted $22 billion in new business investments since 2005, making it an attractive location for new businesses or those considering a move. One of the newest arrivals, consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, considered 70 sites around the United States before choosing West Virginia for its newest manufacturing plant. The Eastern Panhandle location, which allows one-day transport to East Coast distribution centers, is expected to significantly reduce the company’s inventory and shipping costs.
Business success can hinge on personal contacts and teamwork, and this certainly was the case with Proctor & Gamble. The state Commerce Department’s knowledgeable and nimble Business Development staff coordinated hundreds of details with West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and officials from the state’s Division of Highways, Department of Environmental Protection, Higher Education Policy Commission, State Tax Department and local governments. The result? Agreements for P&G’s new plant site were finalized within 18 months, according to Kris Hopkins, director, West Virginia Commerce Department Business & Industrial Development office.
The education connection
Strong ties between business and higher education ensure that job-ready, STEM-savvy workers are available for West Virginia’s employers. Nearly 50,000 employees now work in STEM occupations – slightly higher than the national average – and that number keeps growing.
Assisted by the Business Development team, P&G quickly established an alignment with West Virginia University for recruiting managerial and engineering talent to staff the new plant. The company also entered into a partnership with local technical training centers to develop customized courses.
With its diverse, global, and evolving economy, West Virginia generally has outperformed the nation in GDP growth in recent years, according to a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report.
Although coal has long been king in West Virginia, the Mountain State is now a global hub for chemical manufacturing, a national hub for energy and biotech industries, and a thriving access point for cutting-edge biometrics companies. Aerospace, automotive, healthcare and education, metals and steels, media and telecommunications, manufacturing, hospitality, forestry, and tourism sectors form the balance of the state’s economy. While coal is expected to remain important for years to come, a century’s worth of shale gas reserves places West Virginia center stage in the nation’s energy picture.
The combination of a business-friendly climate and a family-friendly culture is hard to beat. This is why the Mountain State is becoming the destination for established companies looking to boost profits, as well as tech start-ups seeking to stretch venture capital dollars.
West Virginia, the small state with big advantages, is well worth considering.