Only real change brings lasting prosperity - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Only real change brings lasting prosperity

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  • Police Search for Missing Woman

    Police Search for Missing Woman

    Thursday, August 28 2014 8:23 PM EDT2014-08-29 00:23:19 GMT
    Darlene HatfieldDarlene Hatfield
    The search is on for a missing woman in Bluefield, West Virginia. Officers with the Bluefield Police Department said Darlene Hatfield has been missing since August 15.
    The search is on for a missing woman in Bluefield, West Virginia. Officers with the Bluefield Police Department said Darlene Hatfield has been missing since August 15.
  • Bear attacks dog in Raleigh County

    Bear attacks dog in Raleigh County

    Thursday, August 28 2014 6:35 PM EDT2014-08-28 22:35:58 GMT
    In Raleigh County a woman comes home to find her dog laying lifeless in the backyard after being attacked by a bear.
    In Raleigh County a woman comes home to find her dog laying lifeless in the backyard after being attacked by a bear.
  • We're working to see what rules are in place at shooting ranges after a 9 year old girl shoots her instructor

    We're working to see what rules are in place at shooting ranges after a 9 year old girl shoots her instructor

    Thursday, August 28 2014 6:23 PM EDT2014-08-28 22:23:35 GMT
    National debate has been sparked over gun safety after a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting instructor in Arizona on Monday.The instructor was teaching the girl how to use an Uzi sub-machine gun.The girl pulled the trigger, and the recoil caused her to lose control of the gun.The instructor was accidentally shot in the head, he died later at the hospital. 
    National debate has been sparked over gun safety after a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting instructor in Arizona on Monday.The instructor was teaching the girl how to use an Uzi sub-machine gun.The girl pulled the trigger, and the recoil caused her to lose control of the gun.The instructor was accidentally shot in the head, he died later at the hospital. 
  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Lesson from Ferguson: Do not lose hope

    Lesson from Ferguson: Do not lose hope

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:00:24 GMT
    The images from Ferguson, Missouri, look like snapshots from a war zone. We still don't know why city police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, but we do know the fallout shines a glaring light on what happens when scores of people are disconnected from the American Dream.
    The images from Ferguson, Missouri, look like snapshots from a war zone. We still don't know why city police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, but we do know the fallout shines a glaring light on what happens when scores of people are disconnected from the American Dream.
  • Political bickering overshadows need for change

    Political bickering overshadows need for change

    Friday, August 15 2014 11:39 AM EDT2014-08-15 15:39:41 GMT
    New ideas and ways to move our state and nation forward are in short supply during this election season.
    New ideas and ways to move our state and nation forward are in short supply during this election season.
  • Diversifying our economy will make it more resilient

    Diversifying our economy will make it more resilient

    Friday, August 8 2014 6:00 AM EDT2014-08-08 10:00:18 GMT
    We have been hit hard with some tough economic news in recent days about our state’s most recognized industry. We learned that Alpha Natural Resources could lay off more than 1,000 workers later this year. Another report showed that it is becoming cheaper for domestic energy producers to import coal from other countries than to use what is mined in the U.S.
    We have been hit hard with some tough economic news in recent days about our state’s most recognized industry. We learned that Alpha Natural Resources could lay off more than 1,000 workers later this year. Another report showed that it is becoming cheaper for domestic energy producers to import coal from other countries than to use what is mined in the U.S.

West Virginia's continual exploration and development of natural gas is the gateway to something better. Gas extraction, development, transportation and utilization are expected to create high-paying jobs. 

We have been blessed with a second chance. West Virginia has been an exporter of natural resources for most of its history, but with coal and timber and even early oil extraction, we largely missed the opportunity to translate our natural resources into second-stage manufacturing or finished products with the good, stable jobs rooted in states where the business environment was perceived as more attractive.

We're already seeing a hint of what's possible in some areas of the state. Once again, it will be West Virginia providing the nation, and now the world, with reliable power. But when will it become politically popular to make decisions for the future, albeit changing and unsettling today's status quo? We already have forecasts of population decline. This only further reduces our potential tax base. Our current leaders in all branches of government seem more fixated on protecting what they have vs. creating a opportunity for everyone.

We have to find the political will to transform our tax, judicial and educational systems and infrastructure to change these trends or our future will be predetermined to be one in which others, again, capture the major benefits from our natural resources and we remain a state wherein, unfortunately, many key economic and lifestyle indicators remain in decline.

There is no quick fix, but we need to start down this path. A few successes can become contagious. The future is bright in this state and we must harness all that makes our workforce the best if we are going to see this through. What we must not do is have a repeat of what we saw during the 2014 legislative session. Even the most optimistic observers have labeled the session a dud. 

Dynamic, forward-thinking leadership is a must if we are going to capitalize on what clearly is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Business leaders and those who initiate investment understand risk, but they always look to elected bodies to determine if they will have a level playing field. 

No matter how aggressively Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and his staff court executives, the data is clearly not on our side. If given a chance, our workforce can get the job done and compete with anyone the world over. Potential and promise have never been an issue. What slows us down is a political class far too invested in the status quo to ever push for true reform. They waste time and energy on petty, partisan fighting and think up ways to best retain their power. Even now, with the majority party challenged in ways many thought impossible just a few years ago, they refuse to reach out or create a platform that gives our people a chance. Quite simply, a prosperous West Virginia is a better West Virginia.