THEIR VIEW: Returning West Virginians eager to become spokespersons

By GOV. JOE MANCHIN CHARLESTON -- West Virginians are all about family. I can't imagine people more closely tied to their roots than West Virginians, and no matter where we go, we never forget how much family means. It seems that people who leave West Virginia always have someone here at home encouraging them to come back. And I can't count the number of transplants I've met who have told me they left our state and miss it so much and are eagerly waiting on the opportunity to return. Earlier this year, we started a "Come Home to West Virginia" campaign to encourage those transplants to take a look at the positive changes and economic growth in their home state. We want them to give us a call, pay us a visit and to discover the new opportunities all West Virginians have worked so hard to create the last few years. Now, you can nominate the best person to take that "Come Home" message nationwide to become the official spokesperson for the "Come Home to West Virginia" campaign. We're looking for the mom, dad, relative or friend who has contagious enthusiasm for West Virginia and who can help encourage our former residents to come home. I'm excited about this campaign and we're seeing the same kind of excitement in the entries that our Department of Commerce is receiving. Here are a few examples of entries we've received: * Sarah Bias of Morgantown was adopted from Korea and lived in Grafton most of her life. Her husband nominated her to highlight the state's embrace of diversity. He wrote, "She loves living in West Virginia and always speaks highly of it to friends and family, arguing that there is no better place on Earth to live." * Mary Bower of Mt. Hope writes, "When you see the weather dancing on the ridge, you know you are home in West Virginia ... Rush hour passes in a flash ... [and] making a living is living indeed." * Jason Milan Barr of Evans wrote, "The beauty of West Virginia is not only in our mountains, trees, valleys and wildlife; but in the spirit in which Appalachian people provide for their families, serve their country and live their culture." * Judy Sjostedt of Parkersburg nominated colleague Shannon Cunningham, who says, "There are good people in communities across West Virginia who work hard and care deeply about each other. I want to be a part of the great things happening there -- West Virginia needs me, and I need it." Nominate yourself or someone you love as "Come Home to West Virginia" spokesperson. Visit www.hometowv.com or call 304-558-2003 to request information by mail. There's never been a better time to come home to West Virginia. Help us find the person to spread the word!

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