West Virginia University economists recently noted that Harrison County and the I-79 corridor are doing fairly well when compared to the rest of the Mountain State. The Year 2000 Economic Forecast presented to legislators noted that this county is fortunate to have many of the keys to economic growth ... good transportation, a diverse business climate, and access to higher education.
When the rest of the forecast is considered, the absolute importance of higher education dare not be underestimated.
While Harrison County is ahead of much of the state, some of the low unemployment numbers in the region are due to outward migration of people who went to neighboring states for work. While we are fortunate to have such major employers as the FBI and the developing Benedum Airport complex, the key to securing good job opportunities is -- guess what -- higher education.
Frankly, the old jobs of years past ... mining, glass, etc., are not going to come back. In order to secure the future, the economists note, the region will need jobs that are in high growth sectors and pay above-average wages. The requirement for those kind of jobs is a bachelor's degree or better.
We are delighted to hear the good news. The forecast points to a great deal of success in the growth of our regional economy.
At the same time, we need to provide better educational opportunities for our youth. Education dollars spent wisely can grow our economy in two ways, by bettering the lives of our children and by providing the business climate needed by the employers of tomorrow.
--Harry M. Fox, Telegram editorial board