Economy

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  The West Virginia Board of Education has passed policy changes capping the percentage of students who receive specially designed instruction for disabilities that schools can place in general education classrooms.

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

 

Thanks to singer-songwriter John Prine, Paradise Fossil Plant might be the only coal-fired power plant that has a household name. “Paradise,” Prine’s 1971 ballad, drew on boyhood memories from the small town of Paradise, in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, to relay the environmental and social costs of our dependence on coal.

A report from CNBC released Tuesday calls West Virginia the "worst state for business in 2017," thanks to declines in state GDP in 2016. West Virginia was 1 of only 7 states to experience economic contraction last year, according to the report.

Becca Schimmel / Ohio Valley ReSource

From the outside Summit Aviation, in the small town of Somerset, Kentucky, looks like any other nondescript, white warehouse. But inside workers craft parts for drones, weapons casings, wing stabilizers and other high-flying products.

Summit is one of many small manufacturers making up the growing aerospace industry in the Ohio Valley. Highly specialized companies are landing in Kentucky and Ohio for the proximity to important raw materials and the promise of some political sway.

Achim Hering / Wikimedia Commons

A new manufacturing plant will set up shop in the Eastern Panhandle. Gov. Jim Justice announced it will create up to 150 new jobs in the state.

The new plant will produce stone wool insulation. This type of product is used in buildings, industrial applications, and in acoustic ceilings.

Rep. David McKinley in a hearing
Submitted Photo / Office of David McKinley

Lawmakers in Washington advanced a bill this week that could help communities throughout the region leverage more funds to clean up abandoned industrial sites.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill drafted and sponsored by West Virginia's Representative David McKinley to improve the Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program, which provides resources to clean up and redevelop contaminated industrial sites.

Kelly Riddle, of Allegheny Wood Products, in a timber stand in Preston County, W.Va.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the next part of our occasional series on the timber and forest products industry, we find out how timber cruisers -- or procurement foresters -- help landowners decide when to harvest trees in a timber stand, which trees to take and which ones to leave behind.  

Independent producer Jean Snedegar joined Kelly Riddle, of Allegheny Wood Products, in early June at a privately owned forest near Kingwood, in Preston County.

High Hop(e)s: Craft Brewing Has Farmers Betting On Hops

Jun 26, 2017
HopAlong Farm in Howard, OH

The acres devoted to growing hops doubled in the U.S. in just the past five years and the trade group Hop Growers of America estimates that 95 percent of that market belongs to farmers along the West Coast. But the craft beer craze is changing the direction for hop farms by generating demand for more locally sourced ingredients, and Ohio Valley farmers like Wes Cole want in on the action.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, farmers are looking to the craft brewing craze to boost a new crop in the region: locally grown hops. We hear from the Ohio Valley ReSource's Nicole Erwin. 

Also, June is Gay Pride Month. Us & Them podcast producer Trey Kay speaks with Charleston resident Bill Richards about living at a time when sodomy was a criminal offense in an excerpt from an episode titled “Sodomy, Stonewall & Pride”.

City of Huntington

  Flint Group Pigments is shuttering a West Virginia manufacturing facility because of a decline in demand for a dye used in printing ink.

CSX
Clark Davis / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Railroad company CSX says it has cut 70 jobs at a locomotive shop in West Virginia, while 270 others continue to work at the facility.

Company spokesman Rob Doolittle says the shop in Huntington will remain open and keep servicing locomotives. Affected employees are eligible to seek positions at other nearby CSX facilities.

Alecia Ford

An Italian manufacturing company that supports the natural gas industry is setting up shop in the Northern Panhandle. 

The Italian-based company Pietro Fiorentini broke ground in a ceremony this week to announce the purchase and development of a 26-acre plot in Weirton. Fiorentini has been operating an office in West Virginia since 2013, but the Weirton site will be its first manufacturing plant in the U.S. The company makes pressure valves and other products that support the oil and gas industry. The $5.5 million  investment will create 45 jobs by next spring, possibly 77 with future expansions.


Swimmerguy269 / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia University economists say their business index shows improvement in the state's economy for the past nine months.

Their Mountain State Business Index, after recording a slight monthly increase in May, was 1.6 percent higher than the same month last year.

Izzy Broomfield

Nearly half of the people living in rural parts of United States don’t have access to broadband internet, the high-speed connection required for common uses many of us take for granted. Government and survey data show that in 65 counties across Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia, most residents don’t have access to broadband -- that’s a quarter of all the counties in the three states.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley ReSource takes a look at the state of broadband internet  access in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. We'll find out about how it's affecting commerce and economic development in central Appalachia.

We'll also hear about some grassroots and legislative efforts aimed at expanding broadband access to areas underserved by commercial communications companies.

A large log landing -- Green Mountain, Tucker County, circa 1910.
Photo courtesy of Robert C. Whetsell

"Just as we came to the hills, we met with a Sycamore.....of a most extraordinary size, it measuring three feet from the ground, forty-five feet round, lacking two inches; and not fifty yards from it was another, thirty-one feet round."

– George Washington, written while exploring the Great Kanawha River, Nov. 4, 1770

Methanol Plant
Wdwdbot / wikimedia commons

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority has approved a $10 million loan to help develop a methanol production facility west of Charleston.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the state development authority gave preliminary approval for the loan to US Methanol to purchase machinery and equipment for the planned Liberty One Methanol plant.

Economics Expert Outlines Steps to Help W.Va.

May 10, 2017
Malcolm Portera
Marshal.edu

An internationally known economic development expert told a crowd at Marshall University Wednesday that higher education institutions can be the key to growing a state's economy.

Malcolm Portera, a chancellor emeritus of the University of Alabama System, was at Marshall to outline ideas and initiatives he's headed in Mississippi and Alabama to improve the economy there.  The 71-year-old Portera has helped the southeast with programs that have driven the manufacturing back to the region resulting in $15 billion in capital investments. Portera said much of that economic investment is tied to the universities and was accomplished during his time at Mississippi State University and with the University of Alabama System.

Cash Money
Psychonaught / Wikimedia Commons

A Powerball ticket sold in northern West Virginia is worth $1 million from the latest drawing.

The West Virginia Lottery says on its website that a ticket sold at a convenience store in Shinnston matched the first five numbers in Saturday's drawing. The winner had not claimed the ticket as of Monday.

Hancock County
David Benbennick / Wikimedia Commons

Small businesses in Hancock County are eligible for disaster loans as a result of drought conditions last year.

The U.S. Small Business Administration said Hancock County is eligible because it's contiguous to one or more primary counties in Pennsylvania.

Job Seekers and Employers Meet up in Huntington

Apr 21, 2017
Manchin Job Fair Huntington
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

Several job seekers from southern West Virginia traveled to Huntington Friday to explore employment opportunities.

Nearly 150 employers were at the Big Sandy Arena  in Huntington Friday, looking to fill job vacancies. United States Senator Joe Manchin’s office organized the three-hour job fair in downtown Huntington. Employers ranging from Wendy’s to state government were on hand, as well as local colleges like Marshall University that offered assistance for education options. Senator Manchin said he wanted to present job seekers with a variety of choices all in one place.

Broadband Lawsuit
Bidgee / wikimedia commons

A telecommunications call center in Parkersburg will be closing this summer, putting nearly 170 people out of work.

Altice USA is shutting down the Suddenlink Communications call center this summer. Altice purchased Suddenlink more than a year ago.

Tesla Supercharging
Mariordo / Wikimedia Commons

Construction has begun for a Tesla Supercharger station in Charleston, making it the second in West Virginia.

News outlets report the station, which will be exclusively for Model S and X cars, will occupy eight parking spaces of the Courtyard by Marriot hotel.

Charleston Civic Center Renovation
charlestonwvciviccenter.com

A new change order has brought costs for the Charleston Civic Center expansion project up to nearly $93.6 million.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Charleston City Council approved the $1.2 million change order Monday.

Farmers in the Ohio Valley are waiting to see how President Trump’s choice to lead the Agriculture Department might affect their fortunes. Concerns over trade have held up a confirmation vote for nominee Sonny Perdue, and trade is also on the minds of regional growers.

Farmers here have been big winners under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and while farm country voted overwhelmingly for Trump, his talk about scrapping NAFTA has farmers like Jed Clark nervous.

Peabody Energy, Inc. / Wikimedia Commons

With Australia coping with the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and China turning back imports of coal from North Korea this week as apparent punishment for missile tests, U.S. coal exports could take up some slack. But analysts aren’t predicting a coal comeback.


When President Donald Trump visited Kentucky for a recent rally he returned to a common theme from his campaign: environmental regulations are job-killers.

Defunding Appalachia: Coal Communities Resist President’s Budget Cuts

Mar 24, 2017
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

Danny Ferguson didn’t like what he saw happening in Lincoln County, West Virginia, where he grew up. The downturn in the coal industry had hit hard, and young people had few job options beyond some fast food places.

“We don’t have nothing else for them to be employed,” Ferguson said. “Lincoln County is in bad shape and Coalfield seemed like the only one willing to take a chance in that area.”

Money, Cash
2bgr8 / Deviantart

West Virginia's Senate has begun advancing legislation to increase the maximum wager to $5 for a single video lottery game.

The bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee also would set the state share of gross profits from limited video lottery revenues at 50 percent starting July 1.

Small businesses in Greenbrier County are bouncing back following last year's devastating floods.

The Register-Herald reports that the city of White Sulphur Springs staged a series of ribbon-cutting ceremonies earlier this month to welcome nearly a dozen businesses that have either newly opened or reopened after the June 23 floods. The floods killed 23 people and ravaged homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Pages