Over the last four and a half years, businesses have announced more than 200 projects to expand or build operations in West Virginia, according to records from the state Department of Commerce.
Those projects represent more than $8 billion worth on investments that have created nearly 11,000 jobs.
Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette and Kris Hopkins, head of the Business and Industrial Development division of the Development Office, met with the Daily Mail last week to review statistics about business development activities since Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin took office in 2010.
Burdette said there seems to be a public perception that state commerce officials are only focused on trying to pluck a few large projects — such as the proposed Odebrecht ethane cracker in Wood County and Procter & Gamble’s recent Berkeley County project — from the sky.
He pointed to a recent Daily Mail editorial that, using a baseball metaphor, said the department should focus less on hitting grand slams and more on putting runners on base.
“I’ve got a whole book of singles and doubles,” Burdette said, pointing to statistics of recently announced projects. “Our big mission is to get more turns at bat.”
Burdette is also aware of criticism that the state is too reliant on its energy and extraction industries, something he said officials are actively working to change.
“Our end goal is to try to see if we can broaden the economy and diversify,” he said.
The 204 projects announced since 2010 span 20 different industries and occurred in 42 of the state’s 55 counties. While the energy sector did see the greatest number of projects of any sector, at 28 projects it accounted for less than 14 percent of the total.