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Gov. Wise gives everyone access to economic study

March 08, 2001

Gov. Wise gives everyone access to economic study



The governor of West Virginia made a wise decision Monday, agreeing to release a $250,000 consultant study of the state's economic future to any citizen who wants a copy. Gov. Bob Wise's quick move came in reaction to statements by other state officials that implied West Virginians would be overwhelmed if the whole report were released at one time.

Is that too harsh an assessment of state officials' remarks? Consider the statement from Don Digby, executive director for the Council for Economic Development, who said releasing the report would "inundate people with everything that needs to be done all at once."

Digby does have some cause to be protective of the report and its conclusions. Last year, 14 members of his council helped raised thousands to get the study done by Mac Holladay, an Atlanta-based consultant.

So what's in this controversial document? No copies have made their way to the Eastern Panhandle yet, although the governor did say the study recommends amending the Capital Company Act.

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However, it's difficult to believe that the report departs too much from recommendations we've heard over the years. For example, previous studies have noted that much of West Virginia's timber is shipped to the Carolinas and fashioned into furniture there. Why not make it in West Virginia?

The report will probably include a suggestion to increase the number of students who go on to college or advanced training, perhaps with incentives to forgive the cost of college or technical training in exchange for a promise to work so many years in the state.

Finally, there's the high-tech sector, which depends on fiber-optic cables to carry high-speed transmissions from one computer to another. Getting all or part of the state wired will require some incentives like tax credits or complete forgiveness for a number of years.

Whatever the report contains, we're certain most citizens will be able to understand its broad outline. And even if they have to be educated on some of its finer points, state officials will find that task easier if they begin by giving citizens a little bit of respect.

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