By EARL RAY TOMBLIN
CHARLESTON -- Time and again, I've said West Virginia is a great place to do business.
We have a low cost of living, low crime rate, good location to both urban and rural areas, and most importantly, a world-class workforce that is second to none. The world is noticing.
In 1996, Toyota Motor Manufacturing built an engine facility in Buffalo. Since opening, the plant has been an intricate part of the community and our great state. Toyota employs more than 1,100 people and has invested $1.2 billion since establishing the plant.
Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Mr. Yoji Suzuki, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, and Mike Lutz, General Manager of the Buffalo plant as well as other dignitaries in announcing this productive plant is once again expanding. Toyota is investing $64 million into the Buffalo plant to add a new transmission line which will generate approximately 40 new jobs.
This expansion is testament to West Virginia's highly qualified workforce, stable economy, and strong communities.
As products produced right here in West Virginia travel the globe, our superior quality craftsmanship is getting worthy attention. This is evident through export growth West Virginia has seen in recent years.
In 2008, the state's total exports reached a record high of $5.6 billion. The global recession the following year caused exports to decline but in 2010 exports more than rebounded.
The West Virginia Development Office reports, last year, the state's total exports reached its highest level ever at $6.4 billion. In 2010, West Virginia exports were up 33 percent over the previous year, once again outpacing the national rate of 21 percent.
It is the dedication of our Development Office and that of our small and medium sized companies, who are focus on exporting their goods, which has led our state to continuously outpace the national export performance for four years now.
The top ten market destinations for West Virginia made goods are, in order: Canada, Japan, Brazil, Netherlands, China, India, Belgium, United Kingdom, Italy and the Ukraine. This year trade events are scheduled for Columbia, Germany, China and Australia.
West Virginia's top exports include coal, chemical and polymers, machinery and components for medical, automotive and aerospace applications. These industries and others will continue to grow as West Virginia companies, both large and small, find new markets through international trade opportunities.
I encourage businesses, especially our small and medium sized businesses to think beyond the local customer base and reach across the world.
The West Virginia Development Office is available to help show business owners the way to a world-wide presence. Our economy grows stronger with each expansion every West Virginia business experiences.
I want our businesses to succeed and I know, together, the knowledge, tools, and skills our West Virginia workers possess are expanding our state's presence on the global map of business success.
Tomblin is West Virginia's acting governor.