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Development director has the right approach

We like the philosophy of the new executive director of the Harrison County Development Authority. Joe Gero not only wants to bring new businesses to our area, he also wants to tend to the needs of the businesses that are already here.

For too long, economic development authorities in this state have bowed and groveled to big companies, seeking to relocate them to the Mountain State. We've given them big tax breaks and have pretty much rolled out the red carpet.

This kind of behavior often irritated existing businesses in West Virginia. Aren't we doing our part, they ask. How about paying a little attention to us?

Enter Joe Gero.

"Working with existing industries frankly can ultimately result in the creation of more jobs," he said. "In many cases, working with businesses already in the community can result in more jobs than recruiting new ones."

Gero says that the services that the Development Authority offers to incoming businesses -- such as helping them hook up to utilities, identifying local tax breaks and helping them find investment money -- are also available to existing businesses.

Gero says he will attempt to visit all of the major businesses in Harrison County within the coming year to see if any of them need assistance. He points out that if a business is expanding and considering a move out of state, he might be able to help find them a larger facility and keep them here.

And if he should find existing businesses that are having some troubles, he says the authority can help them, too.

Helping out the businesses that are already here can have a number of benefits. It can mean those businesses have a better chance at staying open; it can mean the creation of more jobs, and, by helping to strengthen the local business community, outside firms may be more inclined to locate here.

It's not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which is comprised of James G. Logue, Kevin S. Courtney, Patrick M. Martin, Matt Harvey and J. Cecil Jarvis.

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