CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A proposed $35 million increase in the budget allocation for the state Department of Commerce would be used to diversify the state’s economy, according to state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher.
Gov. Jim Justice’s proposed budget takes the funding for Commerce from its $10 million to $45 million. According to the governor’s budget office, the increase would be used in four main areas including sales and marketing ($4.3), site readiness ($8.5 million), strategic investment ($17.2 million) and infrastructure ($5 million).
Thrasher said too many times when the state Development Office is trying to attract new business to the state, West Virginia is automatically eliminated. He said the sales and marketing increase will put the state in a better position.
“I very much believe that we now have the environment to have a seat at the table but nobody knows about us,” Thrasher said during an appearance Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
He said the key is to get in front of site consultants that companies looking to expand into a state hire.
“Site consultants do 90 percent of their work in their office–West Virginia has a reputation that is horrendous–it needs to be corrected,” Thrasher said.
The site readiness effort will identify sites that are viable for industrial projects while listing what needs to be done to the site to get it ready.
The strategic investment fund would get the most money from Justice’s proposed increase. Thrasher said the money would be used to help get things like water and sewer to usable sites.
Thrasher said West Virginia must be proactive to get in front of the site consultants.
“Showing the outside the world what we have so we can attract winning industries to West Virginia. Winning industries look for great places to locate,” Thrasher said.