West Virginia’s Business Boom

A recent West Virginia Gazette article has detailed the boom in new business starts across West Virginia.   For example, Summers County, in the heart of the Southern West Virginia coal fields, has seen a 21% jump in new business registrations this year.  And, Summers County in not alone.  Numerous other West Virginia counties have seen jumps in business starts exceeding 10% this year. 

This growth is keeping pace with national trends, which are also showing huge jumps in new business filings. I believe the trends in West Virginia are particularly promising for several reasons.  First, these counties are rural and have been distressed for many years. For example, Summers County is home to about 12,500 people and its biggest town, Hinton, has less than 3,000 residents.  It’s been many years since the region has seen a business boom of this size. Second, the new business applications are in a diverse mix of industries, and offer one clue that efforts to diversify coal-dependent economies are taking hold. Finally, and most importantly, these data suggest that regional, state and local efforts to spur entrepreneurship are having an impact.  Groups like the Appalachian Regional Commission, TechConnect WV, the WV Community Hub, and others, have been working for years to help community leaders build entrepreneur-friendly locations and to provide needed services that help firms start and grow.  These investments and this commitment are now starting to pay off.  That’s great news for today, and even better news going forward!