Wood County announcement offers hope - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Wood County announcement offers hope

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You just have to be excited by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's announcement that Odebrecht, a Brazilian company, is helming the exploration efforts to develop a new petrochemical complex in Wood County. If everything plays out right, West Virginia could one day be home to an ethane cracker. These facilities convert ethane from gas shale deposits to ethylene, a compound used in manufacturing plastics. If it happens, and there is a long road ahead of us, this could revitalize our state's manufacturing sector. 

"There's a lot of hurdles we still have to jump through," Tomblin said last week during a news conference in Parkersburg. "But I feel very confident we have developed the relationship with Odebrecht that is a good one, and I think they can respond to it. 

"We have the resources and the business atmosphere that they're looking for."

While it could be some time before ground is broken on this project, you have to credit Tomblin and his team for bringing us to this point. He has shown leadership and tenacity and his diligence is starting to yield tangible results. But, in many ways, the truly hard work begins now. To get this project off the ground, this state is going to roll out the red carpet for Odebrecht. It's likely they will be exempted from volumes of taxes and laws. Whether that is good or bad is clearly up for debate, but the smart thing to do would be to level the playing field for every business in every sector of this state's economy.
Again, we support Odebrecht and the efforts being made to bring this project to fruition, but at some point, our elected leaders need to stop making special deals for a certain company and give everyone the same shot. We've made progress in terms of our tax code, but more work can and must be done. We must also ensure fairness on our courts and make certain our young people are getting the kind of education that will prepare them for life in the 21st Century.

West Virginia has such potential. Our work force, when given a chance to compete, is among the best. We can point to scores of positive factors that work in our favor. We need elected leaders who have the courage to open our economy and make our state a place that welcomes investment. For generations, we have been bedeviled by power brokers who would rather further the status quo than move our state forward. A better West Virginia is a prosperous West Virginia — a place where each one of us, not just a select few, has a shot at prosperity.