The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

March 25, 2014

It's progress

The arrival of Mountain Lumber to Greenbrier County is another sign of progress as southern West Virginia continues to diversify its economy.

The company, notes CEO Bill Stone, has a new facility in the Rahall Building at the Airport Industrial Park in Maxwelton as well as a milling operation in Renick.

The company will eventually total 20 or so new jobs in its operations.

Steve Weir, executive director of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corp., was instrumental in guiding Mountain Lumber into its new location in the Rahall Building.

“We could only find small buildings in Virginia,” Stone said.

The facility in Greenbrier County, coupled with Mountain Lumber’s milling facility in Renick, are examples of vision by the GVEDC and matching need with availability.

These are precisely what we’re looking for in southern West Virginia.

Greenbrier County is, of course, a major component of the state’s tourism industry. The Greenbrier resort is the county’s largest employer, with staffing hitting as many as 1,800 jobs during peak tourist season.

But the addition of Mountain Lumber and other businesses are signs that Greenbrier County is doing things right in targeting a broad range of small businesses.

“I also see encouraging activity in terms of business sector leaders and public sector leaders looking at new ways of getting things done,” Weir told The Register-Herald in our recent Economic Outlook 2014 project.

“People are willing to look at things differently; they’re changing their vision.”

Greenbrier County, the state’s second-largest county, has 1,021 square miles. By comparison, the state of Rhode Island is just 1,214 square miles.

Out of that vast area, Greenbrier has not just tourism but significant agricultural potential as well, as County Commissioner Woody Hanna can attest.

“Commissioner of Agriculture (Walt) Helmick promised me when he was elected that, within a short time, we would have an agricultural distribution center here in Greenbrier County,” Hanna told us in that same Economic Outlook project.

“That would be one of the most fantastic things we could get for our agriculture industry.”

In Greenbrier, like other counties in southern West Virginia, progress is going to be measured in terms of 20 new jobs here, 20 new jobs there.

“Small business is the canary in the coal mine for the economy,” Weir said. “This increase in small businesses is a good thing overall.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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