CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state of construction is headed in the right direction in West Virginia, according to Cassidy Webb, the show manager of the WV Construction & Design Expo.

W.Va. Construction Design Expo

Cassidy Webb

The 40th annual event filled with hundreds of individuals in the construction trade got underway on Wednesday at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center and runs through Thursday.

“People are optimistic now,” she said. “A lot has happened in last few years. We were last in the nation in construction employment but with the 2017 road bond amendment, there has been increased highway work.

“Natural gas pipeline construction and coal is on its way up. Manufacturing plants, cracker plants too.”

According to Construction Connect, West Virginia ranked 39th in construction employment in 2017 and 8th in construction employment change in percentage from 2016 to 2017 with an uptick of 7.3 percent.

Webb said there are nearly 300 exhibitors taking to the floor including construction companies, engineering firms, architectural firms, service providers, manufacturers, and anyone in the construction industry.

She believes that keeping up to date on industry issues, products and technologies are important but the most important thing for attendees at the expo is to network with the crowd.

“You have an exhibitor that comes here and they can have a lot of people coming in and out of their booths but it is that one person that they make a connection with that leads to more business,” Webb said. “If one company can get one job out of it, it is residual.

“The word of mouth works. You meet one person here, you do a job for them and they spread the word. They spread and the word and the next thing you know, they are finding your exhibit next year.”

Over 75 seminars are being offered to qualified attendees at the expo in anything from water plant safety to toolbox essentials.

“These are free continuing education credits,” Webb said. “Those that require those credits each year, they can come here to the expo. There is a big lineup so they can knock a bunch of those out in one place.”

Industry leaders from the state Department of Highways and state Department of Transportation were in attendance on Wednesday as well West Virginia native Mark Bowe from Barnwood Builders and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).