CHARLESTON, W.Va. – When Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the Tourism Development Act last week, most of the focus centered on the $25 million tax credit it provided for the Greenbrier Resort and a training camp partnership with the New Orleans Saints.

However, other business owners claim the legislation provides an opportunity for all the state’s tourism-reliant companies.

Dave Arnold, a managing partner of Adventures on the Gorge and member of the West Virginia Tourism Commission, said the measure rewards growth.

“Basically what this bill does is allows our investors to have a little more confidence in a project that may be a little bit more risky,” Arnold said. “Especially with seasonal tourism, which we’re in, most investments are fairly risky. You only have about five or six months to make your money back. You’ve really got to put the pedal to the metal.”

The Tourism Act could incentivize industries like white water rafting and ATV trails to expand their business.

The act affords businesses a tax break worth up to 25 percent of the cost of constructing new facilities. Arnold, who spoke at the Capitol during the bill signing, stressed the state isn’t just handing out those dollars.

“We have to earn this. This is incremental revenue. We don’t get this unless we earn it. So if we produce a capital project and it creates revenue, then there’s a sales tax credit.

The Tourism Development Act is based on a successful project in neighboring Kentucky.

“Kentucky had something very, very similar, and we saw it do lots of good things and we are very excited that we have a much better bill,” Arnold said.

Arnold said the incremental revenue can apply to lots of projects from expanding white water rafting companies to building a new ski resort to developing a water park.

“The end result is really simple: This will create a lot of jobs and this will create a lot of tourism dollars,” he said.

The commission reports that tourism is a billion-dollar industry in the state, bringing in millions of visitors to West Virginia annually.

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Comments

  • Walt ReynoldsJr

    I work at the Greenbrier and have since 1989, Iam glad that Charleston has finally found a way to help out business Owners . They spend their money in West Virginia and take a high chance that they wont get their money back . Jim Justice took over the Greenbrier at its worst , He has used his money to fix, rebuild and bring in things that make the Greenbrier more competitive with the Hospitality Business . He gives me a chance to have a job in a state that hasn't always been a good place to find a job. Thank you Jim Justice and all other Business that have faith in the West Virginians that are hard working and want a better life .

  • MOCO man

    Well said bookman.........a lot of people have no understanding of economics except they want something to whine about all of the time. The tax credit isn't just to hand over money to Jim. There has to be a certain amount of people employed.........which they too pay taxes, buy houses, gasoline and so on. People come in to the golf tournaments, casino, or whatever they may choose, they ar spending money. It's always funny to hear people moan and cry about no jobs around here but where do people think jobs come from? They don't grow on trees. Someone has to invest money. What about the medical staff that is going to run the medical facility? Yep.........more money spent in the local communities..........quit crying like a bunch of unappreciative spoiled kids!!!!

    • stophating

      So, taxes get shifted from a billionaire (who probably wouldn't miss 2.5 million/year) to working class that needs every penny.... That way of thinking is what has ran up a huge federal debt....

      • The bookman

        That's not how it works. It's a tax credit against new revenue to the state, not existing revenue. It eases the risk of the new investment, making the project a little less likely to fail. But to achieve the credit, new revenue in the form of taxes have to flow into the treasury of the state. You're a smart guy/gal. This isn't rocket science and this has been done in this state and others before, and is currently occurring as an incentive to capital investment. It is a net revenue inflow to the state, with no up front state dollars at stake. The only impact to the taxpayers is the opportunity for non taxpayers to become taxpayers through gainful employment. This is a win/win all the way, and your misrepresentations are either based in a lack of understanding or purposeful misdirection. I ask you to consider the benefits of the deal vs the witch hunt of a wealthy entrepreneur.

  • jay zoom

    before its all over Justice 1 - WV 0

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Isn't taking a risk what the so-called "job creator" does? Isn't that the essence of "free enterprise"?

    Road apples. Just another example of corporate welfare by the state, with Joe Middleclass footing the bill. Why do we decry government involvement until the time comes when we need it? Sounds like hypocrisy to me, and with little hope for the future, that sound I hear is a select few laughing all the way to the Bank.

    "Tourism"? We're only kidding ourselves.

    Welcome to West Virginia, 2014.

    • Mason County Contrarian

      So many Fat Cats in the photo! Looks like feeding time at the kennel, compliments of the Taxpayers of West Virginia.

      Sure would like to know their names and how each was involved in this fiasco. Probably a "Who's Who of the Smoke-Filled Room".

      • Observant

        It must've been chilly in there.

        • Mason County Contrarian

          Yes, they must have had a the thermostat down. I wanted to make the observation, but didn't. Thanks!

          • Observant

            You're welcome.

        • GobblyGook

          It was the excitement of getting "free" money.

  • wv4evah

    Tourism is West Virginia's future. Without question. But please put away the pom-poms. To take an editorial stance ("win/win" in the headline) in an allegedly objective news site is regrettable. (I was going to say 'despicable," but thought I should tone it down.) Does any adult edit this stuff?

    • Jason412

      WV4evah,

      Nothing about metronews is objective.

    • Chuck Anziulewicz

      DEAR WV4EVAH:

      I agree with you about the pom-poms. For something that is ostensibly a news story, the headline reads like an editorial. A better headline would be, "Tomblin administration says Tourism Act benefits more than Greenbrier."

  • Lisa

    Sure Dave is for Tourism Tax Credits, he's on tourism board, his employer Adventures On The Gorge also received 1.4 million in credits. ATOG is a big player in getting six figure grants every year from WV MAPP program , yet their river user numbers continue to decline after merging many river rafting companies. Thus the benefits of being on the board!

  • Jeanne Mozier

    Tourism is one of the best industries WV could have. It's unfortunate they don't cultivate it more. It brings money from outside the state here. It provides one of the few areas where people can actually start a small business. People always whine about low end jobs and forget about all the small business owners. Tourism is one of the great motivators for protecting and preserving both history and the environment because NO ONE is going to pay money and waste their spare time going to a trashed up place. It enhances the image of the state "out in the world," encourages development of the arts and other cultural activities. It brings in outside visitors to support the type of restaurants, shops and cultural venues that could not be supported by local populations but make towns and areas into the kind of "cool" places that attract the new jobs of the 21st century. It brings people to the state to visit who often return to live here. I could go on and on. The only downside I've experienced in my 37 years in the WV tourism industry as a business owner is that the state/people do not recognize its phenomenal value.

  • Aaron

    The biggest problem with this bill was the way it was moved through the Legislature. If Justice's spokespeople had shed light on it to begin with, the only opposition the bill would have faced would have been from those who do not understand how it works.

    Wait.

    Nevermind.

  • high roller

    I would like to see the figures that back that last statement "tourism is a billion dollar industry, bring in millions of visitors each year". I would guess both are inflated. Only if each of the 1 million visitors spend 1,000 dollars, does the industry bring in 1 billion dollars.

    • The bookman

      For some perspective, the MNF brings 1 million visitor-days plus per year. The tourism industry easily exceeds $1B in revenue.

  • wv4ever

    Jim Justice is the only one that is going to make money on this deal. I really hope the current leadership have a wonderful time as they go off to the Greenbrier on tax payers money to meet and greet a football team of all things. Justice really shammed the state, again! How much is he getting in tax write offs and new business in his gambling house?

    • Walt ReynoldsJr

      my self and about 1500 families in Greenbrier county will benefit . Jim Justice has single handedly brought the our County back to the front . You really don't understand what a great person he is , He has done a lot for our youth and paid peoples medical bills when they couldn't afford to . He gave 3 million dollars in toys to children last year. He has not shammed the state , He thinks of others and gives , whats a shame is people like you not having all their facts before that are quick to judge. Judge a man on his deeds not your hate .

    • Aaron

      Do you understand that before Justice gets any credit on his sales taxes, the Greenbrier has to meet baseline taxes paid so while Justice may get some tax credits, the state still makes the same amount of money as before?

      The risk is being shouldered by Mr. Justice, not WV taxpayers.

      • joeyjojo

        Where do I sign up for that deal? Hey Earl Ray, give me a credit for any income tax I pay above what I paid last year.

        • The bookman

          WV Tourism Development Office. Fill out the application and make sure to bring your checkbook. They require a substantial fee, $15,000 if memory serves correct, plus in Mr. Justice's case, a concurrent $400M investment that must create jobs and grow the economy. Still want to apply?

      • The bookman

        Thank you! A voice from the wilderness!

    • Wowbagger

      He also conned Mechel OAO into buying the worked out part of his coal business at the top of the market!

    • griff

      I agree totally that jim justice is looking out for #1

      • The bookman

        And just exactly who should Jim Justice be looking out for? When you go to work do you consider the impact of your daily toils on others? Do you work harder to provide a little more tax revenue to the state? Why should Jim Justice be held to higher standard?

        Jim Justice should be thinking about #1. Why begrudge a man of turning a profit on a $400 million investment of his own money? If he profits, so does the state. If he doesn't, then he loses his investment and the state loses nothing. The provision of tax credit is the incentive the state offers for major investment of capital in our economy, and we should be rooting for people like Jim Justice and Dave Arnold to succeed. I hope he makes millions on the deal. Because if he does, we all benefit, and jobs will be created. Stop lusting after the wealth that others possess, and look to the opportunities they willfully create.

        • Wowbagger

          It all depends whether you believe in Crony Capitalism or cutting business taxes by an equivalent amount and letting the markets work! I am personally happy with my net worth, but have come to view the growth of crony capitalism as a major evil of the 21st century, although West Virginia politicos started a lot earlier. See West Virginia's involvement in the Battle of Blair Mountain for one, early example.

          • Retired Charlie

            Yeah, I'm with Wowbagger on this one.

          • The bookman

            Bagger,

            Again, in following the legislation, it was introduced back on January 15th, passed the house on February 26th by a huge majority, and found itself in the Senate late in the session. I think they realized that the bill, being sales tax based, wasn't built to work for this new venture. The amendments were then marshaled through quickly to provide access to the credit using corporate net tax as opposed to sales tax.

            I have said that I don't like Puccio being involved, and that the process didn't look good. But what I don't get is the prevailing mantra that they were trying to slip this in at the end of the session as if they were trying to hide something. Look at all the sunshine on this fiasco! It seems more likely that this was a last minute addition to the bill that was technical, not philosophical.

          • Wowbagger

            So Larry Puccio, a long term West Virginia politico and coincidentally state Democratic party chair AND Justice`s paid lobbiest shows up a couple of days before the end of a legislative session, where money has been a big issue, with a relatively big proposal for a tax break.

            All at once the proposal slides through with little apparent opposition and you don`t suspect a little favoritism?

            I have less problems with Jim Justice than the good ole boy crony capitalism that he has obviously learned to manipulate.

          • The bookman

            Bagger,

            I certainly do not favor cronyism, but I just don't see how it relates to Justice in this case. This isn't a give away in any shape, matter, or form. This isn't the state giving Justice an unfair competitive advantage, as let's face it, he has no legitimate equal in terms of the Greenbrier. I believe the jewel of his ventures in terms of profit and upside potential will be the sports medicine clinic, and that is going to cater to a clientele not currently being served in WV. There is just so much venom hurled at Justice and others like him, and my response to griff was more to his derision of Justice's intent of profit. We all desire to profit from the fruit of our labor, and to deny Justice of that basic right of direct benefit smacks of unfairness IMHO!

  • Wowbagger

    Tourism is typically portrayed as totally positive, but it does have some big down sides. These include increased pollution, various other environmental issues, increased seasonal stress on infrastructure, and increased need for law enforcement to name a few examples. The issue of a new sewage treatment plant for Snow Shoe that almost has to be sited in a very environmentally sensitive area is one pointed example.

    These problems must be weighed against job and small business creation.