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Celebrate W.Va.’s successes and strive for more

Later this week, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce will convene its 83rd Annual Meeting at West Virginia’s beautiful Greenbrier Resort. More than 1,000 guests representing small business, industry, higher education, health care, banking, the professions, manufacturing and so many main street employers will be represented. Many of our state’s elected leaders also will be joining us to be part of the dynamic conversations that make up our annual Business Summit.

Our governor, university presidents and deans, United States Senators and major national figures will speak on the state of the economy, education, health, judiciary, transportation and so many other topics of great interest and importance to the future of our state and its citizens.

The theme of the 2019 meeting is, “Celebrating Success” and we, as West Virginians, have much to celebrate. Our state currently is number one in the nation for wage growth and overall economic growth. More West Virginians are working in the summer of 2019 than any time since the summer of 2008.

These milestone achievements are not accidental. They are the result of concerted efforts to improve West Virginia’s climate for job creation and economic growth. Legislative leaders have taken tough votes, and the results are showing.

For years, businesses have said they want to grow in our beloved state. And for years, they have spoken through the united voice provided by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce to enumerate those policies and laws that will help them grow. Our members live here and love our state. They want to grow here and do, so their voices must be heard. Changes made to improve the business climate are working. The proof is found in higher wages, more jobs than at any time since July 2008 and increasing state revenue collections.

President John F. Kennedy’s belief that a rising tide lifts all boats is being proven on a daily basis in West Virginia. Many optimists will be participating in this week’s West Virginia Chamber of Commerce meeting. Most are expecting more growth and more success as our great state improves its standing.

Education and workforce readiness are especially important issues to employers. Currently, West Virginia employers have 20,000 job openings. These jobs are going unfilled because of a large gap between employers’ needs and job-seekers’ skills. Higher education, community and technical colleges and employers will be meeting to find solutions. All agree that improving the product of West Virginia’s K-12 public education will be key to a successful future. It is a widely held belief that the future belongs to the educated and skilled. Businesses are promising to work to help our public schools prepare for the challenges of the 21st century workplace. Helping to ensure student success is everybody’s business and employers can be counted on to offer their resources to help West Virginia students succeed.

Success does not have to be limited to a few. Nor does it need to be short-lived. More West Virginians’ lives will be improved as jobs are created and income increases.

This week, more than 1,000 West Virginians will celebrate the success of the summer of 2019. They also will devote themselves to more success that includes a growing workforce, better schools and more opportunity for all in 2020.

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