CHARLESTON -- Here is the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce's stand on West Virginia Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) funding.

Today's global economy is often described as one in transition to a knowledge economy based on research, innovation, and technology.

Successful competition in this climate requires substantial investment in both human and physical infrastructure that will facilitate research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

However, the economic benefits of such an investment are considerable.

National studies have demonstrated that 75 percent of all tech-based companies stay in the state where the research originated. In addition, each $100,000 of investment provides $230,000 in regional economic impact.

Surrounding states have committed substantial resources to their research initiatives, ranging from $22.5 million in Maryland to $1.13 billion in Ohio.

Although West Virginia's state commitment currently stands at just $4 million, the state has made important gains.

For instance, since 2001, competitive federal research in West Virginia has risen from $35.8 million to $60.1 million.

There is room for continued improvement.

Compared to neighboring states, West Virginia lags in the number of patents awarded, doctorates awarded, and academic R&D dollars.

EPSCoR is an organization responsible for the development, administration, management, and implementation of the state's experimental research improvement program.

We believe that the continued partnership between EPSCoR, academic institutions, non-profit research organizations, business, and government agencies, is critical to improving the competitive standing of the Charleston region and West Virginia.

It is for these reasons that the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce supports these three legislative actions:

1. An increase in EPSCoR state funding from the current level of ½ of 1% of racetrack video lottery proceeds to 1% of racetrack video lottery proceeds.

2. Codify language that allows private, non-profit research organizations to apply and receive funding from EPSCoR.

3. Increase direct appropriations to the HEPC Research Challenge Fund managed by EPSCoR to build research infrastructure.

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