By GOV. JOE MANCHIN
CHARLESTON - Most professionals in West Virginia's business community have known for a long time that we've got something good in the Mountain State, and that it makes good business sense to locate your company here.
Last week, a national business magazine and a research organization published their study that confirms just that: West Virginia and three of its metro areas are "magnets" for attracting and retaining new businesses.
In its May-June issue, Expansion Management magazine ranks West Virginia 8th among all 50 states and three West Virginia cities are among the top 20 small metro areas for business recruitment and attraction. Charleston was ranked 8th, Parkersburg, 14th, and Wheeling, 17th.
The ranking is even more significant because it is based on actual corporate relocation and expansion data, and not simply subjective opinion. The study uses the National Policy Research Council's interactive database of 19 million companies, so it is backed by a huge statistical sample of businesses.
In an introduction to the article, Expansion Management's Chief Editor Bill King wrote that for the metropolitan statistical areas and counties that ranked high in this study, it represents the best of all possible validation that their local economies are on the right track.
"To put this into perspective, it is important to note that there are 362 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) and 3,141 counties in the United States, so making this list puts these locations in pretty rarified atmosphere," he wrote.
Expansion Management's subscription base comprises chairmen, presidents, owners, facility managers, and corporate directors who are looking for locations for their businesses, including manufacturing plants, distribution centers, company headquarters, call centers and other facilities.
These are the people who decide where their company should locate, relocate or expand, and I expect they will read these rankings and take even more notice of the great opportunities that exist in West Virginia.
The study looks at data from the last eight years, and puts West Virginia ahead of perennial growth state North Carolina and just a shade behind Virginia. This is definitely good news that shows West Virginia truly is "open for business."
No doubt this ranking is bolstered by economic development hurdles we're succeeding at overcoming, including workers' compensation costs, crippling pension debt, an aging tax structure and legal reform.
West Virginians in the past may have read how the state ranks low in articles published by some national publications. We're working on them. But in the meantime, it's refreshing to discover that by looking at actual data, the Mountain State stands out as a proven great place to do business. We should all take pride in that.
To read more about the study and for a complete listing of the rankings, visit Expansion Management online at www.expansionmanagement.com.