The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 30, 2012

Diversify

State must take advantage of all our resources


— Comparatively speaking, our state has done well through tough economic times, yes.

But if West Virginia is to prosper in the future, it must look for ways to continue to be on the forefront of promising industries.

West Virginia has to diversify.

We must take advantage of all of our resources.

Some of our best resources are our people and their ingenuity.

One such example rests in Raleigh County.

West Virginia has a fledgling aquaculture industry, with Mountaineer Trout leading the way.

Established about a decade ago at an abandoned coal mine site near Sophia, the company is producing about a half million pounds of fish annually.

The site is conducive to raising trout because it has clean water flowing at a rate of up to 1,200 gallons a minute, and is about 55 degrees.

Reclamation of a mine site and a bustling business.

Mission(s) accomplished.

A win-win.

The aquaculture business in West Virginia reflects an output of between $2 million and $3 million a year, Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Steve Miller said this week.

He also pointed to the state Legislature which over the past few years has helped open the road to success through enacting a law that declared the fishing industry as agriculture.

It’s great that fish are being raised here, but there is also a need for a processing plant.

It’s another opportunity that must be seized.

Our hope is that the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, which works on new business recruitment in our region, along with state officials can help lure business investors for a local processing plant.

It’s time to give our citizens the opportunity to establish businesses that would provide new jobs, while also serving a need by providing food for the nation’s consumers.

Let’s hope that our state is truly “Open for Business” and lawmakers have the foresight to be on the cutting edge of these industries that are literally in our backyards already.