Government, The Braxton Democrat

Legislative Update… By Lori Dittman WV House of Delegates 63rd District

During May interims the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism met and heard update presentations from Mitch Carmichael, Secretary of Economic Development concerning ongoing economic development throughout the state and Jeffery Lusk, Executive Director, Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority. Secretary Carmichael shared economic highlights that he called the WV Miracle:

  • Employment: Over 125,000 jobs added in the past 38 months, the fastest growth in history for WV
  • WV GD up 5.1% in 2023: Highest growth in the eastern United States
  • WV personal income (nominal) rise is greater than national average
  • WV average was up 7.5%-sixth highest in the nation
  • WV real retail sales up 2.8%-10th highest in the nation
  • Over 300,000 new broadband fiber connections in WV since 2020
    West Virginia’s pro-business value propositions include central location for supply chains and customers, a low turnover rate indicating loyalty in the workforce, superior financial status with no unemployment debt, pension funding, and a robust rainy-day fund, a streamlined regulatory system, highest homeownership in the nation, cost of living is 21.9% lower than the national average, low crime rate, flexible higher education system, and positive economic momentum and opportunities. These propositions make it easier for business investors to say, “Yes, West Virginia!” Parts of our state are seeing success. My response to all this good news is to celebrate it and look for ways for central West Virginia to see economic investment and growth too.
    Jeffery Lusk, Executive Director, Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, stated they have seen extreme growth. Last year the Hatfield McCoy trails sold a total of 92,531 permits. The Hatfield McCoy project in southern West Virginia is successfully using tourism, entrepreneurship, and job creation to impact economic development. Currently the trail system has 1,100 miles open with the goal of 1,500 plus miles. Connections to Virginia and Kentucky trails create a multi-state riding area. By 2026, the Hatfield McCoy trail will be one of the largest ATV trail systems in the country.
    Tourism continues to be an economic driver for our state. Governor Justice announced this week that West Virginia Waterfall Trail has surpassed 75,000 check-ins from every state and forty-one countries have explored our beautiful waterfalls. Three more waterfalls were added bringing the total to 43 waterfalls in the experience. Will and I explored one over the weekend, so it looks like we have two more to go.
    As summer gets ready to kick off, we have some great opportunities in Braxton and Gilmer counties to enjoy upcoming festivals. The West Virginia Folk Festival in Glenville starts June 20th followed by the West Virginia Bigfoot Festival June 27th-29th at Holly Gray Park. July will see the Freedom Festival in Burnsville and Gassaway Days in Gassaway the first week of July. We have wonderful communities, and I hope you will enjoy your time with family and friends.
    “Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live.”
    (David Binder)
    I look forward to hearing from people in the district and hope to see you out and about enjoying all the great things our area has to offer. I can be contacted at: lori.dittman@ or 304-701-8600.