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What will West Virginia look like in 2043?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – What will West Virginia look like in 30-years? That’s the question public, private and civic leaders tackled during a conference in Charleston Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Bridging People and Policy” held at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences was all about talking about the future and what can be done today to make it brighter for future generations.

Ted Boettner, the executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said it comes down to change.

“Creating a more sustainable economy, an economy that works for everybody in this state and ultimately, that’s going to make this state a better place to live, work and do business,” stressed Boettner

One example, according to Boettner, is coal and natural gas. He said when King Coal was at its peak, people weren’t thinking about the future of the industry. But, with Marcellus Shale and natural gas, Boettner believes there’s a chance to map out the future of that industry so that it will benefit everyone.

Boettner said looking ahead coal ideally will still be a pivotal industry but in 2043, the state would rely on a more diverse economy.

“We need to diversify our economy to have a more sustainable economy and one that’s based more on knowledge and higher education and manufacturing and our technology sector, that’s not so susceptible to booms and busts.”

In order to accomplish that, Boettner said it’s going to take team work and people willing to accept change even when it’s not comfortable. In the end, he believes it will grow the middle class, keep West Virginians from leaving the state and offer a lot more job opportunities in all sorts of sectors.

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