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Editorial: W.Va. needs plan to diversify state economy

From The Register-Herald of Beckley:

While Gov. Jim Justice was promising petrochemical fortunes for the state at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual shindig this past Wednesday, troubling numbers were rolling in that indicated the state might be in a bit of a rough patch – economically speaking – making the governor’s reelection effort a tad more complicated than it had already become.

Not that the governor would ever mix campaign strategies with state business, but, yes, his appearance had the look of a dance with those he hopes will power him back into office a little more than a year from now.

But darkening the governor’s rosy outlook, revenue collections – the barometer that Justice had been touting throughout most of the last fiscal year – had come in south of budget for the month of July.

Even more troubling is the governance side of the equation where Justice has not embraced the CEO side of his responsibilities. While he often shares a vision of where he wants to take the state, and while he has fulfilled a cheerleader’s role, he has not yet proven successful at developing a plan to diversify the economy. With him, it is all about coal and oil and gas – industries that were already in place before he came along, industries at risk to a sometimes fickle market and a growing national preference for renewables given the realities of global warming and climate change. …

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