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Investments in infrastructure begin to pay off

Some of the investments that have been made in West Virginia are beginning to pay big dividends to the state's economy. Most notably in our area are the investments that have been made at Benedum Airport. Infrastructure projects supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission, such as the Benedum Airport project, are boosting the state's economy.

The ARC has invested $1.5 million in the Benedum Airport since 1990. This investment has created nearly 1,600 jobs at the airport, as well as to help the area surrounding the airport to be more competitive in economic development.

According to a report released Monday by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the state's economy is improving. Unemployment is at a 20-year low and the per-capita personal income is rising. This has been despite the fact that the coal industry, a major sector of the state's economy, has been struggling, losing 2,200 jobs in 1999. Although per-capita income is rising, it is still less than the national average by 26.8 percent.

Investments into the state's infrastructure must continue in order to help offset the effects of the loss of the jobs in the coal industry. It is predicted that the service sector will drive job growth over the next decade, but with continued infrastructure improvement, the state can be more competitive in attracting manufacturing companies to the state.

We applaud the efforts of the Appalachian Regional Commission and the investments that they have made in West Virginia. The investments have created jobs, increased tax revenues and spurred private investment. We hope that the investments in infrastructure will continue within West Virginia. We are lagging behind the national average for job growth, but with continued investments, we can begin to narrow the gap.

Steve Morris

Telegram Editorial Board member

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