Ronald Reagan once proudly proclaimed “It’s morning again in America.”
It is morning again in West Virginia! The War on Coal has opened our eyes. No single industry can, by itself, support our entire state’s economy or tax base. To be clear, we must continue to support our existing industries, and Coal most of all, but we must look to diversify our economic and tax base. We must embrace emerging industries and high technology.
Coal is resurging. We’ve all seen the trucks and trains moving again on our highways and railways. This will continue and our county governments will see a resurgence in severance tax dollars. Natural Gas is also coming on very strong. West Virginia’s vast natural resources are again spearheading a resurgence in our fortunes, our opportunity, and our treasury.
We must not be satisfied with this alone. In truth, no matter what growth we see, and no matter how far we come, we must constantly strive to improve. To take the lessons we’ve learned through hardship and to capitalize on our grit and determination to thrive, in spite of circumstances outside of the control of our state borders.
Federal policy precipitated a decline in our leading industries which we were unable to effectively pivot away from. For this reason, we must diversify our state’s economy to broaden our base of revenue and shield ourselves from the political and legislative will of the rest of our nation.
To accomplish this goal, we must incentivize the in-sourcing of new business, new talent, and new industry. We must facilitate an environment that not only retains our top talent and future leaders, but attracts investment, individuals, and industries that currently are not found in our great state. While doing this, we must also be mindful of the industries, businesses, employers and employees who have remained loyal to our Mountain State through all of the difficulties we’ve experienced over the past decades.
West Virginia has boundless opportunity. So many of our leaders in government have focused solely on our problems. But in hardship lies opportunity! Coal has been great to our state. While we are mindful of our current issues, we will overcome them. We will meet any challenge that we must face and overcome them all. From economic woes to an opioid epidemic, we will overcome these stumbling blocks. West Virginia will no longer resign herself to a fate below what she deserves.
This attitude and outlook on our prospects cannot be implemented by any one politician. It is dependent on all of us making a choice to realize our potential. A potential which all of us sees deep within our culture as West Virginians. It is who we are. We are strong, proud, determined, loyal, intelligent, and hard-working people. I call on all of my fellow West Virginians to answer this call: to embody the grit and determination we pride ourselves with, to take risks, and to innovate. I call on our elected leaders to answer this call. I call on our business leaders to answer this call. I call on each and every one of us to answer the call. Begin each day with a renewed determination and sense of purpose to improve and become what we are destined to be: Great! Focus on our potential and highlight our victories. We must not be satisfied with simply being Great Again. We can, we must, and we will make our state Greater than Ever Before!