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W.Va.'s political leaders should listen to business

Swanson Industries of Morgantown is a worldwide supplier of hydraulic, machining and plating services, with expertise in designing and manufacturing new products.

Company president Tom DeWitt, speaking at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's Business

Summit, said Swanson faces the same problem the state does - interstate and global competition.

But the state makes it worse.


  • Tax policy is a problem.

    "We looked at what we pay, which is roughly 41.5 percent taxes on our income and we looked at South Korea, which pays 24 percent," DeWitt said.

    Timothy Duke, president and chief executive officer of Steel of West Virginia, noted that while the state has cut its corporate income tax, it remains 22 percent higher than Virginia's.


  • Legal climate is a problem, too. Duke added. Too many frivolous lawsuits.


  • Labor policy choices also hurt West Virginia. Duke said he thinks the state should be a right-to-work state like Indiana and Virginia. They thrive economically.

    "West Virginia needs to realize that it has competition from every state in the United States," DeWitt said. "The last reading I had was at least 38 of those states had rankings of better business conduct . . .

    Beri Fox, owner and president of Marble King in Paden City, said that in 10 years, West Virginia has lost two-thirds of its  manufacturing jobs, falling from 165,000 to just 50,000.

    Yes, workers compensation costs are now lower than those in Virginia. That is because, after decades of pleas from the business community, the state finally privatized workers compensation insurance.

    But it took at least 20 years to get the state to act.

    West Virginians cannot afford to wait decades for state leaders to listen to the case that regulatory

    relief, tax relief, judicial reform and right-to-work legislation would help manufacturers create jobs.

    If state leaders really want jobs, they need to adopt the policies that would make it possible to get them.



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