Last Saturday, “Project Launchpad,” a marquee piece of legislation for the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce and partner Vision Shared, passed both the House and the Senate. It will now go to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for his signature.
“Project Launchpad” focuses on job creation in the state. It will attract new businesses and create high-value jobs for our families now and into the future.
The Charleston Chamber and Vision Shared, which is a nonprofit community and economic development organization, have worked to craft and improve this legislation for three years. In that time, “Project Launchpad” has been championed by many individuals and organizations.
The economy of the past that West Virginia has relied upon for employment, business activity, taxes and development is rapidly shrinking. Our state needs to position itself for better economic development and more job creation.
“Project Launchpad” will produce geographic clusters that will create high paying jobs, new capital investment and a new and diversified tax base.
The legislation allows a county government to apply to create a launchpad in their county. If it’s within or overlaps a municipality, the county and city would work together and apply to be designated as a launchpad zone. The legislation authorizes up to ten launchpad zones to be created throughout the state. The zones must be initiated at the local level.
Only high tech growth industries, such as bioinformatics, nanotechnology and photovoltaics, can reap the benefits inside a launchpad area. The benefits apply only to a new business from outside of West Virginia that locates in the launchpad, or an existing business within a launchpad area that expands into one of the high tech industries mentioned above.
The legislation also allows for modest tax benefits for employers who have student loan debt service plans as part of their personnel policies. This element of the bill will help recruit and retain new talent. It will also bring back many talented young people that we have lost to the “greener pastures” of better paying jobs in other states.
The Charleston Chamber would like to thank all the legislators who supported it with their vote.
The sponsors of the House version of the legislation were:
- House Speaker Tim Miley
- Del. Bob Ashley
- Del. Jason Barrett
- Del. Ron Fragale
- Del. Nancy Peoples Guthrie
- Del. William Hartman
- Del. Tiffany Lawrence
- Del. Carol Miller
- Del. Doug Skaff
- Del. Ron Walters
- Del. Adam Young
On the Senate side, the legislation sponsors were:
- Sen, Sam Cann
- Sen. Brooks McCabe
- Sen. Corey Palumbo
- Sen. Ron Stollings
- Sen. Erik Wells
- Sen. Bob Williams
“Project Launchpad” was supported by vote by each of the House and Senate members of the Kanawha County delegation.
Thanks to everyone for their help in getting this important legislation passed.