Editorials, Opinion

Greater Morgantown Area has come so far

Sometimes, one must take a step back and simply appreciate what’s going on around them. And today, we’re looking around at Morgantown, Westover, Granville, Star City and the rest of the Greater Morgantown Area and appreciating how far it’s all come.

The growth the area has seen recently is phenomenal. In the last couple weeks, we’ve highlighted a bevy of businesses either slated to join our communities or already breaking ground. The John Chambers College of Business and Economics Vantage Ventures building will be welcoming a host of companies, including tech company Rank One Computing, which will be basing its East Coast operations right here in Morgantown. Owens & Minor are constructing a massive medical supply distribution center at the WestRidge development. Paw Prints veterinary hospital is moving into a larger, state-of-the-art facility at The Gateway. Clear Mountain Bank is looking to put a branch there, too, and in the meantime, it’s opening a bank in Morgantown’s Suncrest neighborhood. And we’re expected to get an insulin production facility in the WVU Research Park in the next couple years.

What makes us so hopeful is that these are anchor businesses that will provide good jobs. The Greater Morgantown Area has a plethora of service, food and retail businesses — which any growing city needs — but these tend to be low-wage, little-education-required (we won’t say “unskilled”) jobs. They are transient and high-turnover jobs — not places to build a career.

But these new businesses coming in are exactly the kind our communities need to thrive: designed for educated (college or trade) individuals and/or for long-term workers, not seasonal employees. These are the kinds of businesses that encourage educated and hardworking West Virginians to stay here — and hopefully pay enough to live here.

The Greater Morgantown Area is becoming a place to be. Any town off an interstate can (and does) offer a variety of food and retail options to travelers passing through and locals alike. But now we’re offering more than that — we’re becoming a destination.

We’re taking the best of the cities in our region: offering top-tier education and white-collar work in tech, health care, finance and more; providing comprehensive transportation and services; and becoming a hub for the arts and humanities with theaters across the city, live music in the park and beautiful artwork gracing the sides of downtown buildings.

And we’re keeping the best of our small towns: a vast array of small and locally owned businesses; green spaces galore (and not just the planned ones); friendly faces and attitudes; and a prevailing sense of community — that this is our place and we’re all invested in making it the best it can be.

The Greater Morgantown Area will always have its faults (as drivers know), and it’s sure to experience growing pains. But when we look around at how far it has come, how far it has already planned to go and how far it can go, we can’t help but feel grateful — and hopeful for all the wonderful things yet to come.