Economy

Is this the 1980s all over again for West Virginia – or is it just a temporary blip? That’s the question I have after learning the state lost population last fiscal year.

In fact, West Virginia lost more people that any other state – 2,376 – according to a new census estimate. The only other state to see a population decrease, Maine, lost 199 people.

The truth is, West Virginia’s population has been pretty static since the 1930s, when it reached 1.8 million for the first time. Since then, it’s gone up and down a bit, but always returned to that same number.

Heartwood Forestland Fund

According to a recent report, the top 25 landowners in West Virginia own about 20 percent of the surface in the state. And perhaps not surprisingly, most of those landowners live elsewhere. The report, released by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, is the first to take a close look at land ownership since the 1970s and it’s created quite a stir.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The unemployment rate fell in 41 of West Virginia's 55 counties in November.
 
     WorkForce West Virginia said Friday that unemployment rose in 13 counties and was unchanged in one.
 

West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave announced today that a lottery ticket for Tuesday, December 17's Mega Millions drawing that is worth $1 million was sold at the 7-Eleven in Belle.
 

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A West Virginia University economist will brief state legislators on the economic forecast for the coming year.

The annual presentation to members of the state Senate and the House of Delegates is set for Jan. 8 in the House chambers.

The report is compiled by the university's Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The bureau's director, John Deskins, will make the presentation.

WV Center on Budget and Policy

It could be argued that West Virginia has never been “owned” by her inhabitants. Before European settlement, of course, ideas of land ownership were not in vogue. Then King Charles II rewarded many loyal friends with large swaths of land and by 1730s, 800,000 acres in what would become West Virginia was owned by three land companies. For the most part, the same trend continues three hundred years later.

Some have argued absentee land ownership in West Virginia has been a major impediment to economic diversification for generations.

CONSOL Energy Inc. says it has completed the sale of subsidiary Consolidation Coal Company to Murray Energy.
 
     The sale includes five longwall mines in West Virginia. They include the McElroy, Shoemaker, Robinson Run, Loveridge and Blacksville No. 2 mines.
 
     The deal also gives Ohio-basedMurray Energy about 1.1 billion tons of coal reserves.
 
     Murray Energy paid $850 million in cash and will take $2.4 billion in liabilities off CONSOL's balance sheets.
 

A southern West Virginia town works to revitalize itself.

Appalachia remembers John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

A bicyclist pedals across the country raising awareness of Lyme disease.

And a Kentucky writer discusses his latest book.

Ashton Marra

Governor Tomblin made his third major jobs announcement in two weeks Tuesday in Charleston. A supplier for the steel industry, the newest company locating in West Virginia will not just create jobs, but also heavily rely on coal to do it.

“Today, 60 more West Virginians will have good paying jobs and the coal industry will have a new customer,” Tomblin said.

He made the announcement surrounded by executives from Carbonyx International USA and representatives of the state Department of Commerce.

David M. Mistich

A plastics manufacturer that employs 130 workers in Wood County is closing the plant on land where a Brazilian petrochemical giant is exploring the possibility of building several facilities.  

SABIC Innovative Plastics informed employees at its Washington facility on Thursday.
 
That news came shortly before Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Odebrecht had chosen the same site to explore the possible location of an ethane cracker plant and three polyethlene plants.

Will W.Va. Get an Ethane Cracker Plant?

Nov 14, 2013
Odebrecht logo
wikimedia / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced this afternoon that a Brazilian petrochemical company, Odebrecht, has chosen a site in Wood County to explore the possible location of an ethane cracker plant and three polyethlene plants. 

The governor was disappointed when Shell announced a few years ago it was choosing Pennsylvania over West Virginia for a cracker plant.  And he’s wanted one ever since.

Growing entrepreneurship. That was the focus of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s annual conference in Charleston.

Members from the 13 Appalachian states shared their experiences and ideas on how to create an environment that will encourage entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses into the future, but many agreed it starts with education.

Fire in downtown Marlinton
Heather Niday / Allegheny Mountain Radio

Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith says a fire that destroyed four buildings is devastating for his city.
 
     The Sunday fire displaced several businesses and about a dozen residents. The fire rekindled Monday.
 
     In addition to displacing people, Smith says the fire will have a significant economic impact. He says the city has lost some of its tax base.
 

Rick Haye - Marshall University Communications

Forums held across southern West Virginia this week are focused on budget cuts in higher education. Sponsored by Marshall University, a forum Thursday evening in South Charleston will allow legislators to hear new ideas on how colleges and universities plan to deal with the cuts. Thursday's discussion is the last in a series of three such forums.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

West Virginia's tax revenue slide is continuing as October's collections fell about $8 million below estimates.
 
     Deputy revenue secretary Mark Muchow tells media outlets that collections of personal income, consumer sales and business and occupation taxes were all below estimates.
 
     Personal income and consumer sales taxes are the state's biggest sources of tax revenue.
 
     Natural gas production boosted severance tax collections above estimates. But Muchow says it wasn't enough to offset the declines.
 

In downtown Parkersburg sits the federal Treasury Department's headquarters of the Bureau of the Public Debt. Employing more than 1,800 at that location, the agency is responsible for managing, selling and accounting for the more than $17 trillion that U.S. taxpayers owe to themselves, to Social Security, and to foreign investors. The federal government is also Parkersburg's largest employer.

West Virginia tends to get put on a lot of lists that ultimately reflect poorly on the state. Here's one that we can all be proud of.

  A Marshall graduate recently visited Huntington to share a story of motivation. The alumna now owns a company that specializes in using technology for marketing campaigns.  

Paula Tompkins spoke to college students and alumni last week at the Marshall University Foundation Hall. The native Huntingtonian and alum of Marshall had a complex, but simple message. To succeed in the business world entrepreneurs have to be persistent, focused and find an idea that’s not already addressed.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The economic outlook for West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle over the next five years looks good according to West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

The state has added about 3,000 jobs since the middle of last year according to this year’s Outlook report. John Deskins, Bureau director, presented the outlook for the Eastern Panhandle to a ballroom full of business leaders from Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties gathered at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn, beginning with a look at the statewide forecast.

A new, free hospitality training program is available online. WV Welcome is a free course designed to help folks in the tourism industry better serve guests from out of state.

Jerry Henderson became an advocate for hospitality when she opened her own Bed and Breakfast about 20 years ago in Buckhannon.  She now serves as the treasurer of WV Hospitality and Travel Association and says knowing the best ways to be a gracious host is not only good for business, it’s good for the state.

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