CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher urged members of the House and Senate finance committees Monday to commit to providing $35 million each of the next three years to Gov. Jim Justice’s Save Our State Fund.
The money will be used to help the state Development Office recruit new businesses or encourage the expansion of existing businesses with a particular eye on making building sites more attractive, according to Thrasher.
“It’s the glaring deficiency West Virginia has when compared with other states,” Thrasher said during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” following the meeting with lawmakers. “It particularly becomes cumbersome and problematic because we are so topographically challenged.”
Two experts in economic development site selection joined Thrasher in Monday’s meeting. Jim Clarke is senior vice president for JLL Corp. which played a large role in the selection of the site for the $500 million Procter & Gamble manufacturing plant in Berkeley County. Clarke urged lawmakers to make business recruitment a priority in tough budget times.
“When sales are down is not the time to cut the marketing budget—it’s time to increase the marketing budget” he said.
According to Thrasher, work to get sites ready to be prepared would include upgrading a sewer treatment plant, extending a water line, facilitating the road costs. He promised the money would be wisely spent.
“After the first year you can look and see what we did with it. You can hold us accountable for it and if we’re not performing you don’t have to give us the subsequent years but conversely if we are performing we expect to get it,” Thrasher said.
The Republicans budget framework released Monday does not include money for the Save Our State fund.