Promoting the Best of West Virginia | News, Sports, Jobs
John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University, was quick to discuss one of the factors holding back the state’s economy. Exploring where we should be striving to improve, he said: “I think we could finally move away from this negative stereotype that we want to avoid.”
To that end, Deskins told lawmakers last month that he believes our state can diversify its economy by promoting our outdoor recreation opportunities, our appeal as a place for remote workers and also tourism.
“If we do more to continue to drive tourism in West Virginia, to get people to start thinking of us as a tourism-oriented state, at least in some sense, (then) we can do things to bring more of remote workers to come here and spend more money in the state to build momentum…” Deskins said.
He also spoke about the importance of having salable land ready for business as we strive to catch up with neighboring states in this regard.
But Deskins’ concern for our future stems from the number of people who are simply no longer in the workforce. Mountain State is dead last in the percentage of the eligible workforce either actively employed or seeking work.
And this is where we come back to those negative stereotypes.
Deskins said those numbers are due to poor school performance, health issues and substance abuse.
“The integration of more of our employees into the labor market is crucial for economic development. To bring a business to West Virginia, we have to be able to convince that business that they can find the workers they need in West Virginia,” he said.
There it is. An effort must now be made to get people into the workforce, especially with the recent positive economic development announcements in Mason and Kanawha counties. We need to change the mindset others have of West Virginia, and that starts with being honest with ourselves about the many challenges we face.