WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — A former governor of Utah believes West Virginia will survive and thrive in a challenging economy. Jon Huntsman spoke Thursday at the annual West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Business Summit at the Greenbrier Resort.
Huntsman said he believes the state’s leaders are poised to improve the economic environment with coal and other products.
“And with that will come more innovation,” the former two-term governor predicted. “Anyone who relies on one product forever without thinking about doing things differently and in new ways, developing new technologies or new modalities, is selling themselves short. No state can afford to do one thing all the time.”
Huntsman said West Virginia must have a “nimble” environment that speaks to innovation, creation and entrepreneurship.
But he added coal and West Virginia’s other energy resources still have a large role to play in the nation’s economy.
“No other country has what we have and the ability to turn it into productive economic growth, create jobs and bolstering our people,” he said.
Huntsman championed major state tax reform while in the governor’s office in Utah. He said West Virginia has done some tax reform but more would help.
“I don’t think there’s anything more important or fundamentally needed than tax reform,” he said.
Huntsman is co-chairing the “No Labels” group with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. It’s an effort to deal with issues without party politics. The caucus has grown to 83 members.
“In order to make energy work, or the budget work or tax reform or anything else for that matter, you’ve got to have a Congress that functions properly,” Huntsman said.
The Chamber’s business meeting stretches through Friday.