CHARLESTON – In today's global economy, adequate, efficient and effective infrastructure is one vital component of successful economic development. Economic opportunities are increasingly related to the mobility of people, goods and information.
Efficient transportation reduces costs in many economic sectors, while inefficient transportation increases these costs.
West Virginia's inadequate highway infrastructure has fallen well below showing signs of fatigue. Each of us knows of that one "pothole" you try to avoid on the way to work. Worse, not all our highways have problems we can see. As an example, West Virginia currently has 1,595 functionally obsolete and 952 structurally deficient bridges.
Now is the time to improve our ability to travel West Virginia and also jumpstart our state's economy with much-needed jobs and opportunities.
Why now? Because more than ever, a regional way of thinking is occurring. Our two groups, the Charleston Regional Chamber and the Huntington Regional Chamber, actively seek out opportunities to work together and learn from one another. The mayors of Charleston and Huntington communicate often, and this dialogue helps solve challenges facing West Virginia's two most populated cities.
Our Economic Development Authorities (EDAs), in conjunction with Advantage Valley, are working together and not constrained by political boundaries drawn so long ago. Simply put, a success in a neighboring county or anywhere else in West Virginia benefits all of us and creates opportunities no matter where we call home.
During the early voting period from Sept. 22 to Oct. 4 and on Oct 7, 2017, West Virginians have the opportunity to fix our roads, boost our economy, and improve the perception that West Virginia is a great place to work and live. On behalf of the Charleston Regional Chamber and the Huntington Regional Chamber, I hope you will join us and vote "FOR!" this important road bond. By working together, we can reach across our county borders and show the rest of the country that a regional focus is alive and well in West Virginia.
Matthew Ballard is president and CEO of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Bill Bissett is president and CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce.