West Virginia to diversify the economy with tourism, distribut - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

West Virginia to diversify the economy with tourism, distribution

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For years West Virginia's state revenue has relied heavily on coal and the lottery. However, these two industries will not be able to provide outsized revenue forever. For years West Virginia's state revenue has relied heavily on coal and the lottery. However, these two industries will not be able to provide outsized revenue forever.

For years West Virginia's state revenue has relied heavily on coal and the lottery. However, these two industries will not be able to provide outsized revenue forever. For example, today, the coal industry employs less than three percent of the state population.

The state must find a way to diversify its economy and one way to do that is through tourism.

"When people think of West Virginia they think of the beauty of the state," said Andrea Bond, a public information specialist at the West Virginia Division of Tourism. "The scenery, the overlooks, the state parks, skiing, white water rafting that's really what people associate with the state."

According to the West Virginia Division of Tourism, in 2012 the state made $5 billion from direct travel spending and events like the Boy Scout Jamboree.

The Jamboree "helps to get the word out to everybody to see what we have here," said Bond.

Another way to diversify the economy in West Virginia is to bring major retailers to the state.

"We have an excellent interstate system. We have a very solid inland waterway system infrastructure so distribution really is a big deal," said state Senator Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha.

The mountain state is already home to several distribution centers, including Macy's, Amazon and Cabela's. To continue that kind of growth, McCabe said the state needs to invest in infrastructure.

"We're geographically in a good location. If we have infrastructure, if we have proper roads, water sewer, air transportation, we will be able to compete," said McCabe.