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 success.


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 information.


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 interest handout.’”


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.”


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