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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by carpenter, Nov 30, 2020.
Another one just because he was such an interesting cat.
I allowed my cynicism/pessimism to take over. Sorry about that, OP. I'd prefer to focus on what WV has to offer.
Tourism. There are some great places to visit and spend time at, as well as potential for increased tourism, eco-tourism, and agritourism as economic drivers for the state. Almost like a 2nd frontier. Check out New River Gorge area for some great outdoor tourism opportunities. I've been to some great local farms that do tours and events to promote their unique crops and such. Farm to table and local farm coops are abundant.
And... How do I write this? Undoubtedly there will be some changes to current state and federal, uh, DEA laws and enforcement that will allow for some enterprising growers of... gourmet.... stuff. Not a partaker, myself. But I would love to for the state to see some money from that. More than enough cheap land. Much of it previously farmed and long left fallow. No big techie indoor growing needed. Do it the old fashioned way. Imagine the potential for agritourism. Come, stay, play, and partake of the local stuff. It hasn't happened yet. Not even in the works. But it could. Sooner than later.
Kentucky has the amazing Bourbon Trail. Napa has wine. And moonshine stills aren't the prettiest. Just sayin'.
I think from this thread the OP can see the pros and cons and should check things out for himself. WV is unique in many ways but just like anywhere else it has its positives and negatives.
Very well put.
Thank you all very much for all your insights and experience. I have a lot of things to weigh and plan out.
Either way I still love it down there whether my wife and I end there or some place else.
Yet to be decided THANKS
I'm actually from just up the road, Gassaway, in Braxton County. Been a couple years since I've been home, but it's always sad to see how much things have fallen into disrepair and despair. Clay County used to have a great apple festival in the fall, my best friend and his dad played at least one of those festivals. If you're planning on retiring and gardening or farming, its' a great place. Wrong location for work, either down towards Charleston, or up towards Clarksburg and points north. Clay, like Braxton and Nicholas and Boone and the remaining 52 counties have issues with meth and oxy and weed and heroin. Land prices are good, plenty of room if you like to hunt. Some of the greatest people you'll ever meet and a ton of vets. Some really cool musicians and artists, but suburban conveniences are still lacking. Meat and produce prices are typically lower than where I am in Virginia, but fuel prices are higher. Cost of living isn't bad, just the living. Been out of school almost 30 years now, loved my school, had great teachers. Not sure about now, have a sister in law who's a teacher there now, poor kids.
Now, if you just want to disappear for a bit and detox from modern life, pick a holler and put down some roots. Best air I've ever breathed, great fishing in the lakes around you, Summersville Dam, Sutton Dam, Gauley River, New River, Elk River, etc. Nature and history are in abundance there. Some great historical stories about Clay County and the surrounding areas. The sun doesn't always shine in West Virginia, but the people do.
I’m from a town of 12,000 in central Wisconsin, we have a cheese plant and a corn processing plant
See Soft White Underbelly on Youtube with Mark Laita- a film maker who wants to show how society really is. West Virginia has some beautiful country but is has it's problems ( can't say anymore am paranoid about Moderators).
I've spent a lot of time in WV, as well as the surrounding areas. Love it there. And I find the majority if people I meet to be great.
But I admit, I am drawn to rural living. Though I do enjoy touring the historically rich areas too. Heck, the new river bridge project both functionally linked some remote regions by cutting travel times drastically, and at the same time became a tourist attraction in its on right. And they are damned proud of that bridge around that gorge!
@Whatizitman described the situation well. And as others have pointed out, its not just WV, though the situation may be somewhat more pronounced in much of WV.
but local industry has long since died a natural death all over, either by closure or jobs largely replaced by machinery. This has been a long time running. Most efforts to prop things up are temporary patches.
Someone mentioned the "trades" This generally involves long commutes for modest pay. and much of the infrastructure simply doesnt support it well.
Many of the "group think" fixes proposed vastly underestimate the intensely independent nature of the populace. They dont want help. Even those who are generations past it want a past they have no memory of back.
And largely, they just want to be left alone.
It can be sad to observe. At the same time it can be somewhat humorous to see outsiders propose remedies.
And IMO the current primary "maladies" mentioned are largely just new faces on a very old problem. This goes way further back...
But I love WV.
And south western VA, north western NC. Eastern KY and TN...
When I think about WV, I remember it from visiting many times on my to VA or KY, going to Wheeling for music, and just 'riding around' as we used to say in Kentucky... but, I think the person who could be a great spokesperson for the state is Mark Bowe.
His attitude about the history of the state and the future of the state is smart. He respects and celebrates the past while growing the future and looking for what is next by using what is past.
It is easy to get discouraged about appalachia and its problems, but the constant is good, strong, proud people. They have had hard times almost as long as they have been up in the hollers and coves... yet, they make it through. Their independent spirit makes them great and makes them slow to get 'on the train' to a different economy. In one year's graduating class that I taught in a small eastern Kentucky town, I had students that went to Kenyon, Wm & Mary, Syracuse, MIT and the Naval Academy. In a graduating class of 83 kids. One returned. They are still exporting some of the best talent in the world, so while it pains me to see the suffering of poverty and drugs, everybody has been talking about 'fixing' the region forever but my experience was I learned more while I was there (5 years) than I fixed. Essentially, first world solutions brought to a landlocked and entrenched culture are laughable and not appropriate. Guys like Mark Bowe, who have a gentle touch and ease folks toward ideas and solutions will bring faster, better, more sustainable change than 'transformational' drop in solutions.
As for living there.... I think it could be great... but, you'd have to invest in being there. You'd have to get known and build some relationships to avoid being tested or run out. If I had stayed, I knew I'd never be an 'insider' but I was protected because I listened and helped kids and took them where they were rather than spending time on what was missing. If you rehabbed a farm, you'd have to stay there a few years and get to be part of the community so that you'd get the protection you needed.
I love that region deeply and its people. I also recognize from living in small towns most of my adult life that each has a defined way of doing things... if you want to change anything, you best get good at how they do it first, master that, THEN talk about adjustments. Anything else and the minute you turn your head, it will revert.
WV government has always been a mess.
Here's an article from today's NYT-- With Joe Manchin in a pivotal position, lots of federal resources are going to flow to W. Va....
By Emily Badger
Feb. 8, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET
The wisecrack about West Virginia is that it can now have whatever it wants: fancy new highways, a federal installation or two, maybe a few extra grand per capita in stimulus checks.
Joe Manchin, the state’s senior senator and a centrist Democrat, has swiftly become one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, a critical swing vote in an evenly divided Senate. By himself, he can shoot down filibuster reform, shape the economic recovery or moderate liberal hopes for the minimum wage. So just give the man what he wants, Democrats laugh uneasily.
But there is a deeper possibility in this unusual alignment of one senator, one struggling state and one suddenly attentive capital.
“The joke is that we’re going to have a futuristic West Virginia,” said Kelly Allen, the executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “The honest answer of it, from our perspective, is that West Virginia and Appalachia deserve an outsized piece of any federal recovery policy.”
That’s because the region’s decades-long role in powering the nation through coal, she said, came at enormous cost to the health of local residents, their environment and their economy. A serious federal response to that history could both bolster the state and be a model for other parts of the country that have been left behind.
West Virginia ranks among the most distressed states in child poverty rates and median incomes, in population loss and in working-age adults out of the labor force. Economists and local community leaders agree that the federal government has done a poor job helping to lift up such places. Maybe West Virginia, with all its newfound leverage, can force Washington to do better.
The state’s residents have ideas. They dream of broadband, vast brownfield cleanup efforts, greater aid to community lenders who operate where traditional banks won’t, more resources for high-quality housing and health clinics — investment on a scale that would return to the region all the wealth that was taken out of it by resource extraction.
Fahe, a network of more than 50 organizations working to make Appalachia more prosperous. “And it seemed that no one noticed or cared outside of our region.”
Within West Virginia, a number of organizations short of money are already operating with what Brandon Dennison, an eighth-generation resident, described as a “righteous anger” about rebuilding the state.
“On a spiritual level, in my bones, I know this place, it’s good, I know it has a lot to offer,” said Mr. Dennison, who founded Coalfield Development, an organization that provides work force training and jobs in construction, tourism and solar power, across the southern part of the state hurt most by coal’s decline. “And I know it’s not been able to offer all that it can because of various barriers.”
Many of those barriers went up generations ago, said William Hal Gorby, a historian at West Virginia University. In the 1870s, the state established a system for legally separating land ownership from mineral rights. This meant that families who owned land seldom profited from the coal underneath, which was mined by companies based out of state and used to power industrialization elsewhere. The coal industry also amassed political power early in the 20th century faster than anyone could mount a campaign to tax it. So to this day, West Virginia doesn’t have the kind of longstanding permanent fund that enables some other states to return resource wealth to their residents.
“The big theme of West Virginia historically is our wealth and our income is not here, it’s taken somewhere else,” said Sean O’Leary, a senior policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “That leaves us with very little to grow and invest and work on ourselves.”
And, indeed, much of the country prospered as West Virginia remained poor. Changing that picture now may require rethinking what it means for this part of the country to get its fair share from Washington.
This is a relatively new pattern: that broad parts of the country are falling further behind, as other places grow more prosperous. For much of the 20th century, poorer parts of the country were catching up in wages. That trend ended around 1980, according to economists, when globalization and knowledge work began to reorder the economy, with tremendously unequal consequences depending on where you live.
“We’re never going to have equal growth in the country geographically,” Mr. Lettieri said. “But we can’t tolerate a situation where a significant share of the country is actually losing ground as the national economy grows.”
In Washington, the problem isn’t simply that the federal government lacks a comprehensive strategy for the state and others like it; many existing federal programs weren’t designed for these places. To qualify for federal housing aid, families must earn below a given share of the local median income. But entire counties in Appalachia have median incomes below the poverty line, leaving many poor families ineligible.
Federal grant programs often require local matching dollars — money the poorest communities don’t have. Some health programs devote extra resources to rural communities, but misclassify which ones are “rural.” The federal government incentivizes banks to invest in struggling neighborhoods. But those incentives don’t work well in rural communities with no local bank branches. The government also has an array of tax credit programs to support development. But they work best with large-scale urban projects, not small rural ones.
“Scale is really the enemy of rural development,” said Dave Clark, the executive director of Woodlands Development Group and its partnering community lender, which have helped restore historical properties in small West Virginia downtowns. “Nobody’s getting rich off of these projects. We can structure them in such a way that people won’t lose money. But they’re not going to be making a lot of money off these projects with the current tools we have in place.”
“Resources — all resources — tend to flow to places of density,” said Jen Giovannitti, president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the largest donor in West Virginia of any private foundation. “I’m talking about philanthropic density, population density, the institutional density. All of that money tends to cluster there.”
That leaves the federal government as an essential actor, with Senator Manchin in a rare position, he has acknowledged, where “one vote truly changes everything.”
What is potentially different for Senator Manchin today is that his influence is rising as recognition of spatial inequality is, too — and that this comes as the economy is in the midst of another jolt.
If more workers can live anywhere, why not West Virginia?
The pandemic, for all its pain, has hastened a number of trends that could aid West Virginia. It has driven a shift toward telehealth, a vital tool in rural communities. It has pushed more consumers into outdoor recreation, a market West Virginia’s scenic gorges and mountain trails are primed to capture. It has boosted political will in the state to prioritize broadband. And the pandemic has sped up a move toward remote work to parts of the country with a more affordable cost of living.
This last trend, which is tied to the other three, could have broad consequences for how states think about economic development. If more workers can live anywhere, states don’t have to throw tax breaks at companies to attract them. They can try to attract workers directly.
“Making a place a good place to live becomes much more important now,” said Adam Ozimek, the chief economist at the freelance platform Upwork. “That’s also a much healthier type of competition than who’s going to give the Bass Pro outlet the biggest tax cut.”
That idea reframes the major infrastructure investments Senator Manchin and President Biden have proposed. Broadband, above all, is an essential precondition to remote work. Well-maintained roads, new parks and other public amenities also enhance quality of life. And major investments in environmental cleanup — because the environment is central to West Virginia’s allure — become an economic development strategy, too.
Until now, many organizations in West Virginia lament that the state has focused too heavily on luring outside employers, rather than building up the state’s own assets.
“If we’re going to think big about this, do we want any job at any price?” said Karen Jacobson, who leads the housing authority in Randolph County. “From any employer who’s going to take the deal now and leave 10 years from now?”
An effort to leverage remote work could also help the state keep more of its college graduates. William Franko, a political scientist at West Virginia University, said many of his students who leave wish they didn’t have to.
“My sense is they would love to stay in the state after they graduate,” he said. “Most West Virginians love the state. But I think they look at the economic landscape, and they say, ‘I don’t see how I can make it work.’”
Mr. Lettieri and Mr. Ozimek have also proposed that the federal government do more to stem population loss and its harms, offering “heartland visas” to skilled immigrants who commit to settling in communities that have been shrinking. That idea is the kind of place-based program that recognizes what’s different about Southern West Virginia than, say, North Carolina’s Research Triangle three hours away.
All of this, locals said, would have to work alongside investments in residents who are unlikely to have remote jobs, but who could build the infrastructure, or run the tourism businesses, or remediate the land. After coal, many are leery of relying on any one fix-it-all idea, whether that’s tourism or remote work. What they’re asking for is something more comprehensive, something that will take years to grow.
“We have generational problems,” said Mr. Dennison, the head of Coalfield Development. “And they’re not going to be solved in one appropriations cycle, or even two or three.”
West Virginia certainly has some beautiful scenery. I live in small town rural VA, great area; remote yet only half hour to 45 minutes from 3 college towns.
It seems to me that Wild Wonderful West Virginia is great to visit but perhaps too isolated for me to live actually there.
I took a trip to WV last night with Anthony Bourdain....