By EARL RAY TOMBLIN
CHARLESTON — Since I became governor, my top priority has been creating good-paying jobs for West Virginians.
Nothing matters more for West Virginia families than the jobs that keep food on the table and a roof overhead, and the most important thing our state government can do is pave the way for employers to keep people working. With some tremendous recent developments on the jobs front, this week is a good time to look at West Virginia’s tradition of hard work and what we are doing to pass it on to future generations.
It is no accident that the Great Seal of West Virginia focuses on work. Since the very beginning of our state, we have been an exceptionally hard-working people, and the coal miner and farmer on the Great Seal are constant reminders of that tradition of industry. Every day for the past 150 years, dedicated West Virginians have gotten up, gone to work, and transformed the natural resources and human ingenuity with which we are so abundantly blessed into products and services that are in demand around the world.
In my time as governor, we have been blessed with an outstanding record of job creation that promises to extend that tradition for decades to come. In late 2011, Amazon.com officially opened its new East Coast call center in Huntington. The company has already committed to create at least 200 full-time jobs.
The Marcellus Shale natural gas boom is generating jobs across our state. Fortune 500 companies are relocating and expanding in the Mountain State, especially in northern and north-central West Virginia. My administration is working around the clock to make West Virginia the hub for processing the fruits of the Marcellus Shale, and I expect that hard work to produce thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, the FBI’s new Biometric Technology Center, currently under construction in Clarksburg, will create about 1,200 new FBI jobs and 160 Department of Defense jobs. And in February, Macy’s began accepting employment applications for the soon-to-be open 1.3-million-square-foot, $150 million distribution center in Berkeley County.
Macy’s chose our own eastern Panhandle over more than 150 other possible locations. The facility will create 1,200 year-round jobs and 700 more seasonal jobs.
Just last week, Toyota announced that yet another expansion of its factory in Buffalo, one of the crown jewels of our state’s manufacturing industry. The latest addition will represent an investment of $45 million and create 80 new top-notch jobs. In Ravenswood, meanwhile, Century Aluminum and its employees have reached an agreement in principle that promises to reopen the plant and put hundreds of employees back to work.
The best news of all? These accomplishments, impressive as they are, represent only a fraction of our good news on jobs. I could not be more proud of our job-creation record, and I will continue to do whatever it takes to keep good-paying jobs coming to the hard-working people of West Virginia.
Tomblin is West Virginia’s governor.