During the 2018 West Virginia Legislative Session, the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce will advocate for policies that promote the economic health of the Kanawha Valley and West Virginia, monitor suggested changes to the regulatory environment and react to proposed new legislation and infrastructure projects.
The Chamber’s legislative agenda highlights issues and positions on items that affect Kanawha County businesses, including:
- Create a Statewide Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Support Program – West Virginia should support innovators and entrepreneurs creating high-tech businesses and high-paying jobs throughout the state. A West Virginia SBIR matching grant program will help small businesses commercialize new technologies, keep homegrown technology in West Virginia, attract technology-based small businesses to West Virginia and help small businesses generate a higher return through this federal program.
- Highways, Roadways and Bridges Infrastructure – Voters approved the Roads to Prosperity Amendment in September 2017. The road bond will repair our roads and bridges, put West Virginians to work and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth. Despite this influx of support, the Chamber continues to advocate for legislation that will support the state’s infrastructure. Infrastructure is directly tied to economic development. Businesses and the workforces they attract consider infrastructure when deciding where to locate. Quality infrastructure investment build public assets, generate business and enhance our state’s global competitiveness. Adequate and effective transportation is critical to moving goods, ideas and workers quickly and efficiently, as well as providing a safe, secure and competitive climate for business operations.
- Modernizing the West Virginia Lottery – The shift toward modernizing the state’s lottery, which the people of West Virginia voted to approve in the 1980s, is key to maintaining a competitive status of our lottery. In a wired world of ever-changing technological advances, the West Virginia Lottery needs to adapt to survive. States that have introduced online lottery ticket sales and other online advancements have provided a return on investment for their state.
- Professional Licensure Efficiency – West Virginia requires licenses for everyone from doctors and lawyers to barbers and foresters. Clearly, licensing for public safety is paramount, but can the licensing process be administered more effectively and efficiently? The Charleston Regional Chamber believes the legislature should take a closer look at the costs and benefits of licensing regulations and whether the restrictions protect the public. Creating a more efficient and effective licensing process for professionals could generate budgetary savings for the state and reduce barriers to new entrants to opening small businesses.
- Work Force Program – West Virginia must equip its workforce with in-demand skills sets that will retain and attract businesses. In order to remain globally competitive, it is critical that West Virginia’s workers have the tools they need to succeed in a 21st century economy. The Chamber supports the Governor’s Guaranteed Work Force Program and encourages lawmakers to exempt the program from further funding cuts.
- Improve Broadband Infrastructure – Broadband is crucial to driving growth, improving our education system and connecting West Virginians to the 21st century global economy. We need to improve quality, reliability, speed and affordability for all West Virginians.
The aim of the Chamber’s actions are to continue making the business environment across the Mountain State welcoming for businesses to start and grow to spur new capital investments and to encourage innovation. The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce will focus its efforts on improving the West Virginia economy, the most critical need currently facing the state.