homepage logo

Society to discuss initiatives to stimulate state economy

By Staff | May 6, 2016

The next meeting of the Cafe Society on May 10, will discuss “The need for a renewed effort to find ways to stimulate our State’s economy.” It is not a new issue, and various approaches have been made with marginal results since the early 1960s, but pressure continues to mount to do something that will bring new jobs into the state and improve deteriorating social and economic conditions. These informal weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center each Tuesday morning. Pre-registration is not required and there are no fees or charges.

Cafe facilitator Mike Austin said, “In passing the 1965 Appalachian Regional Development Act the U.S. Congress acknowledged that region-wide development was feasible, desirable and urgently needed. Little has changed since then except that social and economic conditions in large portions of the region continue to deteriorate. Bad as we might think it is, West Virginia only has 9 counties designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) as ‘distressed’ while other states have significantly more. The point is that we will really have to do our homework to assess where and how government intervention can make a real difference and produce sustainable results. With the state’s continuing budget crisis and the inescapable need to find new sources of revenue, that appears to be the only alternative. While West Virginia might be “open for business,” nobody is knocking our doors down to get in. And we already know the work force that we do have is significantly under employed.”

He commented, “While there certainly is no “silver bullet” that will put us out of our misery, we are living in a far different era than 1965 when those initial assessments were made by the ARC. We aren’t as tied down by geography as we were then, and may find that e-commerce, and greatly enhanced methods of communicating with each other may promote entrepreneurship and business development that heretofore were inconceivable. Who would have thought that things like “Uber” or the sudden proliferation of drones would ever be more than a figment of someone’s imagination? As often happens, “necessity may become the mother of invention” once again.”

Those with suggestions for future topics or who want more information should contact Austin at 304-876-0598 or michael.austin@ frontiernet.net.