CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce has adopted a package of policy recommendations that, if enacted or implemented, would greatly advance West Virginia's capability to generate business investment and employment growth.

Jobs continue to be the No. 1 issue on the minds of West Virginians, and the chamber's policy solutions will help to provide more good-paying jobs to state residents.

Twenty-nine policy recommendations have been approved as part of the West Virginia chamber's policy development process for the 2007 legislative session. The policy papers were developed by the chamber's committees and adopted in late August by the organization's board of directors. Among key issues addressed in the policy recommendations are business tax reform/relief, legal reforms, transportation funding, health care reforms, workplace wellness proposals, small business development incentives and asbestos/silica lawsuit limits.

The chamber's 2007 policy papers correlate to the major concerns and issues of interest to large and small businesses -- business development, jobs, taxes, health care, legal reform, sound environmental regulation and responsible, progressive public policy.

Many of these policy papers have been developed by the 16 policy committees of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Hundreds of volunteers from the chamber's diverse membership contributed their time, talents and knowledge as part of our policy development process. The committees met regularly to discuss issues, reviewed and researched data and, when appropriate, developed policy proposals and offered innovative solutions.

Enactment of many of the key policy recommendations, particularly those dealing with lawsuit reforms and business taxation relief, are needed to improve the competitiveness of West Virginia versus our surrounding states. These changes also are critically needed to advance the state's economic growth and create a more stable and conducive environment for businesses and professionals to operate, invest and employ West Virginians.

Enactment and implementation of these policies will substantially improve the state's business climate and truly make West Virginia "open for business."

The West Virginia chamber prides itself on being a solution-oriented organization, one ready with progressive solutions that will help to make more West Virginians healthier, wealthier and better-educated.

This should be the goal of all West Virginia's leaders, and adoption of our policy papers will help to move our state in this direction.

The West Virginia chamber will be sharing its policy proposals to groups and organizations across the state, as well as with state leaders. I am hopeful that these proposals will serve to stimulate a constructive dialogue and contribute to the active public deliberations that are taking place regarding what needs to be done to advance and improve our great state.

Roberts is president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

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