CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce said the evidence is clear West Virginia has turned the corner and the economy of the state is trending upward. The evidence of the change is clear, according to Woody Thrasher who said recent passage of the road bond amendment will create in the area of 48,000 workers working on road alone.
However, those workers are less than half of what Thrasher predicted will be new positions coming into the state in a variety of industries over the next few years.
“We’re somewhere pushing six BILLION dollars in pipeline in the next three to four years in West Virginia. Then when you consider the overall uptick upstream in the shale gas,” he explained on Metronews Talkline. “Add to that the 16 new companies we’ve announced one after the other. We’re talking about forestry rising up, tourism rising up. I think that’s a reasonable expectation to look at 100,000 jobs.”
Thrasher made the bold prediction during a conference earlier this week in which some of the state’s largest employers like Toyota, Proctor & Gamble, and Appalachian Power all indicated they were hiring. But they explain, as the demand for workers increases, the talent pool to draw from is dropping. Thrasher said the issue needs to be addressed and they are working on it.
“We’re going to run out of workers,” he explained. “I meet regularly with Steve Payne (State Superintendent of Schools) and Sarah Tucker (Chancellor of CTC). We strategically work on how we’re going to have the work force, but certainly it’s going to result in an influx of people coming into our state.”
West Virginia has developed a long standing skepticism of sharing in-state jobs with out of state workers, but Thrasher and others point out they are trying to create jobs which would attract people here not only to work the job, but to put down roots and become West Virginians like the rest of us.”
“We desperately need folks moving in and not just young people staying,” Thrasher said. “We need people moving, we need retirees moving in, we need veterans moving in, we need a talented workforce moving in. If we can sustain this economic development we can hold onto them.”
It would be the bolster to the state’s population so sorely needed after years of declining numbers of population.