Gov. Joe Manchin, left, and CEO Aubrey McClendon speak during the Chesapeake Energy Corporation Eastern Division Headquarters unveiling ceremony on Aug. 21.

By JOE MANCHIN

CHARLESTON -- In 1989 with just a $50,000 investment and nine employees, Aubrey McClendon had a vision that he could build one of the world's leading energy exploration companies.

Less than 20 years later, McClendon's company, Chesapeake Energy, is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that now employs about 6,000 in 19 states and is the country's leading independent producer of natural gas.

That exponential growth didn't happen by accident. McClendon and Chesapeake's leaders developed a proven entrepreneurial management system that guided the company through operational and industry challenges, and extremes of oil and natural gas prices. In conjunction with their 2005 acquisition of Columbia Natural Resources, they have an aggressive plan to explore and tap the immense natural gas reserves that lie in West Virginia and the Appalachian Basin -– a plan that will continue the company's success.

In 2005, following the CNR acquisition, I said that Chesapeake had a history of helping its home state of Oklahoma grow and prosper, and that it would bring that same spirit and determination to West Virginia. Soon after, Chesapeake announced it would locate its Eastern Division headquarters here in Charleston.

Aubrey McClendon and Chesapeake's leadership team promised to not only keep the jobs that existed before its acquisition of Columbia Natural Resources, but to build and expand this company in the Mountain State. We are seeing those plans come to life.

Since November 2005, Chesapeake has added more than 100 jobs in Charleston, and more than 175 in the Appalachian Basin. These are good-paying jobs with benefits that allow more West Virginians to stay home and raise their families here. They are seeking our state's best and brightest and rewarding them for staying.

On Aug. 23, Aubrey came to Charleston to break ground for his company's newest building, its Eastern Division headquarters. Hundreds of employees, area residents, business leaders and elected officials who have worked with Chesapeake joined in the historic occasion. The day marked the next chapter of the partnership among our state, our people and a progressive company.

I know that Aubrey and Chesapeake's leaders and investors have high expectations for their operations in West Virginia. Their new building will be a testament to that -– an eco-friendly, "green certified" office that blends in beautifully with its mountaintop setting. Employees will be proud to call it their work place.

Chesapeake Energy has made an investment in West Virginia that I know will pay dividends for many years to come. I know that in exchange for good-paying jobs with benefits, we will provide hard-working, dependable and skilled employees. That is what West Virginians are.

I have high expectations for West Virginia, too. We will continue to seek ways to operate a more efficient state government that is a partner in business and economic development. And, we will offer Chesapeake's employees a great place in which to live, work and play. A state that is safe, beautiful and friendly.

Manchin is West Virginia's Governor.

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