The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

March 16, 2014

Sparkling

For the off-season, The Greenbrier resort was certainly in the news last week.

Despite the unwelcome return of winter to southern West Virginia, the spotlight was particularly warm and bright on the resort and its owner, Jim Justice.

On Friday we reported that the New Orleans Saints of the NFL will hold part of their training camp this summer at The Greenbrier, which sealed the deal by promising three new practice fields for the 2009 Super Bowl champions.

Those fields won’t just be a one-time thing, either. We expect the two grass fields and a turf field will be exciting prospects for use by college and high school football teams some day down the road.

Earlier in the week, the state Legislature voted for $25 million in tax breaks over 10 years to The Greenbrier for a decidedly different type of venture: an investment into the construction of a resort-style medical facility that will draw patients and their families from around the world for treatment.

Justice’s vision for the $86 million medical facility has been reported previously, when in 2011 he first announced plans for the center as a key part of $400 million worth of tourism projects he has on the planning table.

The tax break, particularly in a state that is having trouble balancing its budget, was criticized by some.

We think those people, whatever their reasoning, are being short-sighted.

The Greenbrier is a gem of a resort in southern West Virginia, and has blossomed into not just a regional or national tourist destination, but an international one as well.

Nurturing this asset is, to us, a no-brainer for not just our region but all of West Virginia.

The resort-style medical facility that Justice envisions is another positive bit of economic news for southern West Virginia, which already can boast of being a medical treatment destination for not just regional residents but out-of-staters, too.

We’ve spoken often, and proudly, of the growing influence of our medical community in our economy and in our social and cultural life in southern West Virginia.

We’ve become a regional magnet for high-quality health care, thanks to Beckley-Appalachian Regional Hospital, Raleigh General Hospital, Beckley VA Medical Center, Plateau Medical Center, Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Summers County ARH and Summersville Regional Medical Center.

Each of these facilities has carved out its own area of expertise in the regional market. We think The Greenbrier’s new medical facility will do the same, complementing the existing medical facilities and their supporting clinics that are here already.

We think that’s worth the state’s investment.

As for Jim Justice, we’re pretty sure he’s the only billionaire we know who coaches not one but two AAA high school basketball teams.

We also respect the fact that Justice stays in West Virginia, and invests big chunks of his time and money right here.

If our history has taught us anything, it’s that few who became wealthy off West Virginia’s natural resources, using West Virginia labor, have remained so generous once that fortune was made.

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