CHARLESTON – State rankings released by the Associated Builders
and Contractors has revealed that West Virginia has a strong business
environment for construction contractors.
Due to recently passed reforms in the Mountain State,
West Virginia has jumped 16 spots in the overall state rankings from the
initial merit shop scorecard published in late 2015.
“Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard” reviews and
ranks state-specific information significant to the success of the commercial
and industrial construction industry. West Virginia ranked No. 13.
“Our ranking, at 13th, means that we have a generally more
positive atmosphere for construction companies and their workforce when it
comes to the potential to generate more construction jobs as well as how
effectively those companies and their workforce can operate within the
industry itself,” ABC West Virginia President Bryan Hoylman told The West Virginia Record.
The scorecard’s website identifies states that have created
an environment where merit-shop contractors are well-positioned to succeed and
states where strategic improvements need to be made in order to achieve that
The Merit Shop scorecard grades states on their policies on
project labor agreement (PLA) and prevailing wage mandates and right-to-work
status, as well as their construction job growth rate, commitment to developing
a well-trained workforce, career and technical education opportunities and
results and use of public-private partnerships.
Also included is state data related to union membership,
prompt-pay laws, business-specific tax and spending figures and safety
Hoylman said many contactors in West Virginia have
responded favorably to the state’s ranking on the scorecard.
“They’ve closely monitored some of the major reforms that
have been undertaken in Charleston over the past few years and that have
ultimately contributed to our rank increasing from a not-so-friendly construction
environment to one of the more friendly construction environments in the
country,” Hoylman said.
According to Hoylman, those reforms included the
passage of right-to-work legislation, which allows workers the freedom to choose their
labor affiliation, and the repeal of prevailing wage, which introduces market-based competition to the construction sector.
“This law allows for the state’s taxpayers’ investment in
public construction to be stretched further, thus creating more projects and
more construction jobs," Hoylman said. "It also removes an entire layer of bureaucracy when
it comes to bidding on public projects, thus allowing many more small, local
businesses to bid on and perform them.”
Another reform, Hoylman said, is a ban on the use of PLA’s on
public construction projects.
“By allowing more competition from qualified West Virginia
construction workers, you decrease costs and give those companies at least a
chance to bid,” Hoylman said. “This horrendous policy is the embodiment of a ‘special
Hoylman said 80 percent of the state’s construction workforce
choose not to join a labor union.
In addition, Hoylman said the state’s increasingly business friendly
environment also plays into overall economic development, adding, "West Virginia is making progress. It cannot
and will not happen overnight.”