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Officials discuss legislative priorities in Bridgeport

Exponent Telegram photo by Jeremiah Shelor West Virginia Senate President Bill Cole, R-W.Va., speaks to attendees at Thursday's "Policy & Progress" forum organized by the West Virginia Business and Industry Council.
Exponent Telegram photo by Jeremiah Shelor
West Virginia Senate President Bill Cole, R-W.Va., speaks to attendees at Thursday’s “Policy & Progress” forum organized by the West Virginia Business and Industry Council.

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — The West Virginia Business and Industry Council hosted a forum in Bridgeport Thursday to discuss legislative priorities for enhancing the state’s business climate.

The forum, held at the Bridgeport Conference Center at Charles Pointe, featured a series of speakers headlined by West Virginia Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer. Discussion focused on bills passed during the 2015 legislative session and on issues the GOP-led Legislature will likely take up in 2016.

Thursday’s forum, dubbed “Policy & Progress,” is one of a series of meetings organized throughout the state by the Business and Industry Council, which represents most of the major trade associations in West Virginia. Local business leaders from a variety of sectors were in attendance.

“We’re trying to reach out and bring attention to all the progress that’s been made with our Legislature,” Business and Industry Council Chairman Chris Hamilton said. “The 2016 session is coming up, and we want to try to develop a more cohesive business front where business interests across the state share the same priorities and programs.”

Some of the major state policy issues discussed Thursday included tort reform, right-to-work legislation, charter schools and more.

The program featured presentations from business and industry representatives and a number of Republican legislators.

In his address to the crowd, Cole described his legislative agenda as one focused on devoting more resources to helping businesses grow in the state.

“A car salesmen generally probably averages eight to 10 car sales a month,” Cole, a car dealer by trade, said. “There’s a whole lot of car salesmen that average two or three cars a month, and then you have a superstar or two that average 25-30 cars. So what do we do? We spend our time trying to help those people that are selling two or three cars.

“If we’d taken the same time and invested it in the guy who’s selling 30 cars, he’d be selling 45-60,” he continued, adding, “Why don’t we figure out the things we are doing right and double down…

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