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Issue Position: Innovation

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

Innovation: For a government that works as hard as you do

For too long, West Virginia has succumbed to politics as usual and gone without a sustainable economic vision. Rather than simply reacting to economic booms and busts, we must develop a strategic economic development plan for our state that addresses our immediate challenges while harnessing the technological advancements of the future. We can take control of our economic future, but not without innovation and accountability.

West Virginia takes advantage of a number of loans, grants, bonds, tax credits, and other incentives to encourage businesses to start here, grow here, or move here. Yet we are competing not just against every state in the union, but also global competitors. They too are constantly experimenting with many of these same tools. I will make sure that our investment climate is second to none.

An important ingredient in that climate is a strong brand. We are competing with the rest of the nation for economic investment. For better or worse, during the early stages of reviewing potential sites for investment, executives often rely on perceptions to determine whether or not they will even consider a state. A strong brand will help tear down stereotypes and misperceptions, and clearly define West Virginia as an attractive location in which to invest and reside.

As Governor, I will create an advisory council tasked with spearheading a long-term economic diversification plan for West Virginia through the year 2020. It will build upon the work of Vision Shared, Imagine West Virginia and other groups that have put forth sound ideas for future economic growth.

* The Innovation 2020 Commission will be comprised of leaders from our technology, finance, business, service, manufacturing and energy sectors, labor leaders, and higher education and research institutions.

* Order an immediate review of state business incentives compared to all 50 states. I want to know who we are losing good-paying jobs to and why. We can identify the latest, best, and most effective practices across the country. Then we'll match them or top them.

* Review and evaluate the impact of current incentives. We must be accountable to the taxpayers and companies must deliver on what they promise.

* Develop a ten-year strategic economic plan for West Virginia. The Commission will evaluate our current workforce and industry strengths and determine strategic areas for growth over the next ten years. It will evaluate each sector of our economy -- small businesses, manufacturing, energy, research, infrastructure, health care, and education -- to create a comprehensive growth strategy for our state.Engage the public in each step of the strategic planning process. Evaluations, benchmarks and goals will be clearly outlined and made available online for public input. I want taxpayers to know what kind of a return they are getting on their investment.

* Develop a state branding campaign through public-private partnerships. We will highlight the desirability of West Virginia as a place to live and play and a place to do business. The campaign will feature the West Virginia Transparency Initiative portal so as to allow businesses to access and utilize state incentives, economic development materials, and credit programs.

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