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How economic development helps more than just the economy

Toyota Motor Corp. recently announced a $1 million gift to the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute at West Virginia University.

That's good news for WVU and the region as the donation will be used to establish the Toyota Chair in Advanced Brain Imaging at the facility, which is the world's only major institute that focuses on human memory.

Even better news is the fact that this grant money is expected to pull in additional research funding.

We call this the "snowball" effect. Economic development translates into jobs, which can lead to more funding to expand existing enterprises. This kind of seed money is invaluable to future development, particularly in West Virginia, which has close to the bottom of most economic categories for years.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who started the institute in 1999, said the facility will be able to attract the best and the brightest researchers from around the world with this investment.

Toyota has been good for West Virginia. The auto manufacturing giant has invested more than $900 million in the state. This latest gift can be viewed as business "goodwill" from the corporation.

"As a company and a neighbor, our definition of success goes beyond manufacturing and sales, " said Toshiaki Taguchi, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation of America, in explaining the investment.

Which is why West Virginia would do well to attract more high-tech enterprises to our state. The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute is a fine example of a facility that can attract such philanthropy.

Patrick Martin

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