JUDGING from Daily Mail Business Editor Jared Hunt's list of the Top 10 business stories of 2013, 2014 and succeeding years look to be good for jobs and economic growth in West Virginia.
Five of his 10 are stories of major job growth and investment. Among those:
n Odebrecht unveils Project ASCENT, a plan to build an ethylene cracker plant and possibly three plastics plants in Wood County, taking advantage of the abundant natural gas supply available through the Marcellus shale formation.
n Exports continue to boost the West Virginia economy, as they hit a whopping $11.3 billion, up 25 percent from 2012. In 2013, 52 state businesses, many small, shipped products to 136 countries who hadn't received exports from the state before.
n In May, Toyota's Buffalo plant became the company's first plant outside of Japan to produce more than 10 million powertrain units. Since it first invested $400 million and employed 350 people in 1998, the company has invested an additional $900 million and hired nearly 1,000 more people.
n Carbonyx International plans to build a new synthetic coke plant in Jackson County and create more than 260 new jobs in the next seven years, and use up to 1.75 million tons of West Virginia-produced metallurgical coal each year.
n Sogefi Group will spend $20 million over five years to expand its Prichard plant in Wayne County, creating an estimated 250 new jobs.
What a different picture of West Virginia than two decades ago, when mounting debt, poor management and an antagonistic judiciary were driving businesses and residents out of state.
These announcements show a more focused commitment on the part of state leaders and state voters to make the state more attractive to businesses and aggressively recruit new and growing businesses, as well as promoting growth from within.
Within the last few years, the state has managed its pension obligations, reformed its workers' compensation system, reduced business taxes and structured the Commerce Department to aggressively recruit new business.
Voters have helped by electing more reasonable and growth-friendly candidates to offices, including the attorney general, the Supreme Court, the governor's office and many legislative positions.
West Virginia still has a long way to go to be considered a prime place for business growth, but it is encouraging that the hard work by state leaders and better selections by state voters appear to be paying off for growth in the Mountain State.