Guest Essays, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Guest essay: West Virginia: Innovative economic sectors

by Mitch Carmichael

An indispensable trait that is commonly found to be present in all powerful, dynamic state economies is the opportunity for citizens to succeed and grow across a wide and diverse variety of industries. States firing on all economic cylinders will enjoy new jobs and significant investment in an ever-expanding array of sectors: from Agriculture to Steel, from Artificial Intelligence to Warehousing, and everything in between. The old adage rings true: “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” These words are good advice for life, and for solid economic development.

It is incredibly exciting and rewarding to observe that West Virginia is becoming such a state! Current and future West Virginians can be proud of the work brought forth by this governor and Legislature to enable our relatively small state to fight and climb our way up the ladder of economic success. West Virginia is capturing the attention, jobs and investment dollars of the world’s most successful and innovative companies.

Among the most significant milestone events in the renaissance and diversification of the West Virginia economy is the recent announcement by LG Corporation of their massive investment to establish the LG Nova North America Innovation Center in our state. Obviously, a global company such as LG has the size, scope, resources and unlimited options to deploy their investment dollars anywhere in the world. It is incredibly rewarding and encouraging that LG chose West Virginia to create over 275 new, technologically advanced jobs for this innovative, 21st century initiative! It is not an exaggeration to recognize this moment as the start of an innovation corridor across the entire Appalachian region.

The businesses to be developed by LG NOVA will bring highly skilled research and development jobs to West Virginia. This internationally respected and renowned company will spur growth in new technologies, make significant investments and drive economic development for many companies and people throughout West Virginia. This strategic initiative is a component of a focused effort that extends beyond this initial LG collaboration to promote sustainable economic investments across all geographic regions of West Virginia. Our state is well-positioned with terrific business leaders, government officials, public-sector innovators and world-class leadership at our flagship universities. As stated by Victoria Thompson, leader of a UK based capital investment firm in attendance at the LG announcement, “The possibilities are immense, not only for the people of West Virginia but also for the wider global economy. By harnessing the power of this budding innovation ecosystem and leveraging cross-government and private sector capital, I believe West Virginia can create a more sustainable, inclusive, and vibrant economy that benefits its communities and drives positive change on both a local and global scale. The LG announcement and West Virginia’s commitment to innovation is a testament to the potential that these ecosystems hold and how bold economic development policy can make a social difference.”

The good Lord has blessed West Virginia with abundant natural resources. We are rich in energy production, steel, chemicals and materials manufacturing. These segments of our economy our growing and provide fantastic careers for many citizens. They are foundational to West Virginia’s economic prosperity. We honor, respect and work diligently to promote and expand these vital industries. By supporting and encouraging growth in other, non-traditional sectors of our economy, West Virginia will provide opportunities for citizens interested in pursuing these careers. The LG announcement and the addition of the many skilled research, development and high-tech positions from this global leader in innovation provides validation and emphasis to the diversification and growth of the West Virginia economy. These new jobs will augment our state’s existing and growing portfolio of robust, exciting opportunities for current and future generations of West Virginians.

Mitch Carmichael is the Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development.