The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

February 15, 2014

Project Launchpad approved by House

Aimed at diversifying state’s economy and attracting technology entrepreneurs here

CHARLESTON — West Virginia has long relied on its natural resources and extractive industries for its economic base. But with coal production expected to decline in the next few years, and Marcellus shale gas drilling not quite at peak performance, the state’s budget is in a pinch.

The House of Delegates voted Friday to enact Project Launchpad, which is aimed at diversifying the state’s economy and attracting technology entrepreneurs to do business here, particularly in economically distressed areas.

Project Launchpad will allow the governor to pick up to 10 proposals that promote economic development in counties or municipalities with plans to attract new businesses with the primary components of “emerging technologies,” “innovative business technology” or “state of the art technology.” Businesses would be exempt from a variety of state taxes and receive tax credits for the number of jobs produced and for offering health care to employees.

The projects have to be on contiguous acreage and cannot encompass an entire county or municipality.

Proponents of the bill said it helps West Virginia compete with similar projects in other states, while the bill’s critics said it was cumbersome and would mean lower tax revenues.

Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, supported the bill.

“It’s important to promote West Virginia in any way we can,” Lane said. “New jobs are a vital interest.”

However, Lane said he agrees with the bill’s critics that it is cumbersome.

“If this is the only bill that we can get through during this session, which is going to encourage areas of the state to reform their business and job-creation climate, so that we can attract new industries and create new jobs in West Virginia, then I’m all for it,” Lane said.

The Kanawha County delegate went a step further and said that eventually, every county in the state should be a Project Launchpad.

His Republican colleagues were not so enamored of the bill.

Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, called the bill a “scheme of picking winners and losers.”

“It includes no jobs of today, and no workers of today. It doesn’t include the businesses of today or the technologies of today,” Cowles said.

Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, pointed out that a nearly identical bill passed the House last year with little debate. Skaff said he is puzzled at the turn-around in sentiment.

“A vote against this bill says you want to continue down the same path with existing jobs that we have, with outside regulations affecting (us) that won’t let us expand,” Skaff said.

Skaff said every county in the state will have the opportunity to be a Project Launchpad site.

Delegate Ray Canterbury, R-Greenbrier, questioned the bill because of tax exemptions, noting that the businesses and their employees would use public highways, public schools and other public conveniences.

House Finance Chair Brent Boggs said the benefits of new jobs, with employees having more purchase power in local businesses, would outweigh the potential cost to the state in lost taxes.

The bill passed 85-10, with Canterbury and Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, among those voting nay.

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Candidates: Leave global warming debate to scientists

    Two West Virginia congressional hopefuls said during their first candidate forum matchup Thursday that the global warming debate is better left to scientists.
    Democrat Nick Casey and Republican Alex Mooney added that other countries should step up in reducing carbon emissions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lawsuit filed over Dirty Girl Mud Run

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn’t be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVa. man sues GM over wife's death

    A West Virginia man has filed a lawsuit against General Motors Corp., claiming a defective ignition switch in a Chevrolet Cobalt caused a 2006 accident that killed his pregnant wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Feds commit to health studies on spilled chemical

    After largely dismissing the possibility of long-term health problems, federal officials will conduct more studies on chemicals that spilled into West Virginia’s largest drinking water supply in January.
    In the next two months, federal health officials are also heading back to West Virginia.

    July 24, 2014

  • Park Service assesses impact of W.Va. attractions

    Four National Park Service attractions in West Virginia drew a total of 1.5 million visitors last year.

    July 23, 2014

  • This weekend's 'Dirty Girl' race canceled

    Organizers of a Charleston running event that was canceled for this weekend says it won’t issue refunds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Reporter heard truck backfiring, not gunshot

    Similar sounds in different circumstances create different reactions. That is so for WVVA reporter Annie Moore, who last Monday told police someone fired a gun at her while she was shooting file footage in the area of a recent murder.

    July 19, 2014

  • Cornhole champions being decided in Charleston

    Cornhole, the strange-sounding game made popular in backyards and at football tailgate parties, is taking on a serious side this week.
    The American Cornhole Organization will crown its world champions as about 380 competitors from 17 states vie for $10,000 in prize money in singles and doubles events.

    July 19, 2014

  • Multi-state distracted driving enforcement planned

    Law enforcement agencies in six states plan participate in a weeklong campaign targeting distracted driving.

    July 18, 2014

  • Female guard accused of having sex with juvenile inmate

    A West Virginia Division of Corrections officer has been charged with having sexual contact with a female juvenile inmate at the Lincoln Detention Center in Wheeling.

    July 18, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads