Happy Wednesday! Business Editor Jared Hunt here settled in at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual business summit at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs. The meeting agenda is available here. We’re already running about a half hour behind, so I’ll live blog once Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin takes the podium. Keep checking back throughout the day. I’m planning on sitting in on the afternoon panels and updating on here as things develop. Look for full stories in tomorrow’s Daily Mail.
If given the opportunity to make one specific change to WV tax system, what would it be?
Greg Babe – Corporate tax rate, said there are states with lower rates.
Clements: Talking about workforce. The bottom line is creating the right pipeline. Takes combination of education, government and industry working together to produce the right kind of talent.
Hager: Said he studies the long-term tax structures in states, and pays attention to ones that frequently change depending on who is in office. Prefer consistency to help plan investments.
Babe: Top 5 factors
- you have to be close to the customers. WV is close because there’s a heavy presence in northeast
- Site and site infrastructure. Said there are many potential sites in WV that are close to interstates, rail, barge. Size of site important.
- The Workforce. Everyone is going to check to see if we have a trained, reliable, expandable and drug-free workforce. If you ask outside of West Virginia, everyone has those concerns.
- The legal and regulatory environment. People want predictable regulatory environment, said there needed some work to make it more friendly to manufacturing.
- The tax structure, what are you taxing among capital stock. Said state was moving in right direction, but needed more work.
Hedrick asks Greg Babe: Corporations have potential to build anywhere, what in your opinion are key factors for and for not choosing WV? And what should be done about those factors that work against WV?
Hedrick: As we all know, manufacturing jobs have been leaving the state in droves, and we need to know if that’s going to continue and what we can do to turn it around.
Now sitting in the “Manufacturing’s Future in West Virginia” panel. Moderated by MATRIC CEO Steve Hedrick, featuring WVU President Jim Clements, Liquid X Printed Metals president and CEO Greg Babe, ANGA president and CEO Marty Durbin and Mark Hager, senior legislative representative at The Williams Companies.
Stirewalt said he did not like when people oversimplified why WV is going more conservative. Said it goes beyond social issues. “Calling it God, guns and gays was small and unfair to the general population of this state.” Said it just had more to do with Democratic leaders in Washington going further left than most Americans.
Back to 2016, Stirewalt said Republicans are in the middle of “the pandering Olympics.” Trying to get interest from groups like Hispanics and other minorities. Said the GOP is terrible at that. Said if they don’t find a way to appeal to the middle class, they will get their clocks cleaned in 2016, especially if Hillary Clinton gets the Dem nod and Bill hits the campaign circuit.
Stirewalt: On EPA, said Gina McCarthy is seen in Washington as the one who will complete Lisa Jackson’s job. Regardless of what she told Tomblin regarding coal, he said, “She will deliver the kill shot…that’s what she was made to do…and that’s what she did in Massachusetts for Mitt Romney, back when he didn’t like coal.”
Thoughts on Hillary in 2016. Said if she makes it out of the primary, she will be very formidable and GOP would have to nominate someone who was not a billionaire who comes across as a vampire (Romney reference) if they want a chance.
On the debt ceiling debate, Stirewalt said the chances now are greater than they ever have been for a full year deal. Would push it back to after last election within Obama’s presidency.
Question: “Can Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid find common ground?” Stirewalt said, “Yes: that incumbents should stay in office.”
Audience question: Who will be the next Fed chair? Stirewalt, “It seems almost certain now that it will be Larry Summers.” Said administration was doing all it could to telegraph that. Talked about the QE pump of $85 billion going into the markets. Said no one is being considered for the position that is not pumpish. “The pump will continue. There are no inflation hawks in the running.”
Audience submitted question: Isn’t Fox News most guilty of political journalism? Stirewalt said no, “These are the best…you may not like what Bill O’Reilly has to say, but if you turn in to our news product, I dare you find a better hour of television” than they produce.
Stirewalt said it was a privilege to learn about politics in West Virginia. Said Washington has nothing compared to covering elections in Logan County.
Stirewalt said WV Senate race of 2014 is indicative of national politics. Said Shelley Moore Capito is a moderate Republican who has to be worried about a serious primary challenge from a more conservative candidate. Said that was a challenge nationwide. “Can you get someone who is general electorate palatable through a primary process, who can be conservative without saying something that will be radioactive in the general election.” That having been said, said Republicans are poised nationwide to make gains in 2014, Senate will be the battleground, with GOP having 50-50 chance of taking the Senate. Said if GOP takes Senate then, “If you like gridlock now, wait til you see 2015.”
Stirewalt: “My apologies, mea culpa, for what political journalism has done for the country.” Though he joked the it has benefited him.
Said it doesn’t help people in both parties find common ground. Said guys like Rand Paul and liberals can find overlap on NSA spying. Manchin can agree with Toomey on gun reform. “You need to be open with people to be open on specific issues.” “By stopping being stupid and self serving and small and narrow, people open their minds to be willing” to work with people on issues.
Stirewalt: “The idea that you would appeal to someone to win the morning…invites people to be cheap shot artists, to be hacks, invites people to do the wrong stuff.” Said there were reporters who were either so credulous and so believing that they don’t question what’s being said, or that they are fascicle and encourage politicians to do the wrong thing. “We are all poorer for it.”
Stirewalt: “I work in a town where people talk about winning the morning – we don’t even talk about winning the day anymore….now that is stupid. That is some concentrated stupid right there….and we have a political journalism that invites politicians to do the wrong thing.”
Stirewalt: “We live in a media culture and a media climate that says don’t leave anything on the table.” If there’s a political jab that can be made, media encourages politicians to take it and not let the opportunity pass away.
About Washington, Stirewalt said “Washington is broken,” everyone agrees about that. “The general consensus is that there is too much partisanship.” Said that was true, but said Washington, more than that was too cynical. “A cynical, cynical place.” Said that was partially his fault as a member of the media. “The environment that has been created by the national press is an invitation to the worst that is a part of every politician in America.” To be little and small.
Stirewalt says he wants to talk about what’s different and what’s the same in WV. Some things are the same, people are gracious, things are lovely, The Greenbrier is beautiful. What’s changed: discussion when he left state was if WV would be a two-party state. He then joked, “Things have changed…Evan Jenkins, are you still here?” Of the state’s political culture as a whole, “It’s changed, it’s happened.” Said that debate between the two parties will bring about reform.
Roberts introducing Wheeling native (and former Daily Mail staffer) Chris Stirewalt, now digital politics editor at Fox News.
Roberts: Talked about growth in per capita income and surplus in unemployment fund and low foreclosure rate. “As we do the right things, we reap the results. So let’s keep doing the right things to help the business climate to help West Virginia grow.”
Chamber President Steve Roberts at the podium, thanks Tomblin “for leading many of the reforms that help shape the way West Virginia is and the way WV is becoming.” Including medical malpractice reform, workers comp and other legal reforms.
Tomblin closed saying, “We do have a great story to tell,” and encouraged businesses to help tell that story.
Tomblin staff left a survey at the tables of all Chamber members today that will help inform the state as to the changes they need to make in education to make sure businesses have workers that are better trained for their jobs.
Discussing the education reform package passed earlier this year. Said it will help improve student literacy. Spoke of the importance of beefing up STEM education. Said out of the WV high school students that took the ACT test, only 24% had the skills in math and science that would prevent them from having to take remedial classes at the college level. “That’s a sobering number and it’s a number we have to change.”
Now speaking to the importance of education to help kids prepare for future careers. Spoke of the education partnerships between schools and businesses. Said this is where he needed the Chamber’s help. He said he has heard businesses complain that they don’t have enough trained workers to fill jobs. Said more businesses needed to get involved to change that and open doors for training and attracting students to careers. “I need more business people reaching out and showing Middle School students you can get a good job doing what they like to do.”
Tomblin said the state will continue to work hard to attract an ethane cracker plant. “We’re working every day to make it happen and I’m convinced that it will happen in West Virginia.” Said he was also not content to simply allow our resources to be shipped out of state to provide jobs elsewhere, said those companies making natural gas investment should invest to provide jobs in the state.
Tomblin said he was encouraged by the meeting setup with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy earlier this summer. “It’s a step in the right direction and it’s a direction her predecessor was not interested in going.”
Tomblin: The state of WV has the opportunity to grow. Still leader in energy production, and pledged to keep it that way. “The misguided policies in Washington won’t change the fact that they need us to keep the lights on.”
Tomblin touted the fact that WV was among 18 states that did not have to borrow money to fund its unemployment fund in recent years. Said the state has cut and will continue to cut taxes on business that are anti-competitive and unfair.
Tomblin: “The facts that we have to tell are clear. We’ve been conservative in our management of our state budget” said results are beginning to be reaped. Citied success with workers’ comp privatization.
Showing video now, features Gestamp, UG Apparel, Mountain View Solar, Bombardier Aerospace, among the companies in it discussing the quality of the workforce, work in conjunction with state Development Office, state’s quality of life, access to east coast markets.
Said the state was making improvement. Debuts a new movie story told by six men and women who do business here. “Their views of life in West Virginia are unscripted and unrehearsed but their words will tell a powerful story about our state and what we have become.”
Said the role of the state is to keep costs low, educate children and help train a workforce that is “flexible and driven to produce a quality product at a low price.”
Tomblin: “Our mission in the state government is not to create jobs, our mission is to create a business climate in this state that encourages private businesses to create jobs.”
Tomblin thanks those gathered for their investments in the state. “We don’t say it enough, but because of you and the companies you represent, men and women are working in West Virginia…you are making it possible to create a future for them in the state.”
Adams introduces Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, said Tomblin has “given his entire adult life to help make West Virginia better for all citizens.”
Delegate Bob Ashley, R-Roane, and state Sen. Evan Jenkins, now R-Cabell (and candidate for the 3rd Congressional District), addressing the crowd welcoming local chapter of the Boy Scouts to present the colors. Jenkins spoke about the Boy Scouts, called landing the Jamboree a “major victory for West Virginia,” thanked Gov. Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for their help in bringing it to the state.
The luncheon program is under way. Richard Adams, newly elected Chamber board chairman, addressing the crowd inviting people to donate to the Chamber PAC.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.