CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — In the past year West Virginia has again seen sharp volatility in the energy industry. Coal severance taxes went way up, then dropped off fast. Natural gas was also doing well until lawsuits temporarily closed down pipeline construction. At the annual WVU Economic Outlook conference, the message to diversity the economy is clear.
“We’re are far too dependent on one sector. And a healthy economy has multiple sectors that are doing well, so that when one sector suffers, other sectors are still growing to fill in the gaps. One of our key priorities has to be fostering growth in other sectors like tourism, like manufacturing, like health care,” said Professor John Deskins of the WVU Chambers College of Business and Economics.
Another problem is trying to discourage young people in the Mountain State from moving elsewhere for better job opportunities. The new law aimed at providing low-cost or free community and technical college is seen as key.
“What can we do to incentivize younger people to stay here. Incentivize those to come into the state, and so that’s a big takeaway from today,” said Del. Eric Nelson, (R) Kanawha and Chairman of the House Banking Committee.
West Virginia also has to deal with the lowest adult workforce participation in the nation.
“It’s a good opportunity to sit down and see what we can do for labor participation. That’s just one aspect. Of course the drug issue, health care. Just a number of issues that have to be addressed,” said Del. Brent Boggs, (D) Braxton.
There is a lot of agreement that the state should do more to increase its tourism economy.
“These economic outlook conferences often lead to bills that are proposed when the legislature gathers for its annual 60-day session in January. ,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.
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