Marion Remote

Jonathan Board, chair of the Chamber of Commerce Executive Board, right, talks to guests at Cooper’s Rock in the Marion Remote video trailer.

FAIRMONT — A plan that’s been in the works in Marion County since last summer is now getting more traction by way of a bill making its way through the West Virginia Legislature.

If passed, House Bill 2026 will update and modernize the laws surrounding taxation of workers who travel to West Virginia and for workers who live here but work for companies that are based outside of the Mountain State.

The hope is to make it less of a headache to file taxes in these situations while also making the state a more attractive place for companies and workers alike.

“People are going to come here and work,” said Del. Guy Ward, R-White Hall. “And we’d love to have them come live in West Virginia.”

West Virginian entities are all pushing a similar narrative — live in West Virginia, work remotely. West Virginia University recently announced the Brad & Alys Smith remote work program, which offers families the opportunity to move to the Mountain State and work remotely for companies states away.

Here in Marion County, Jonathan Board, chair of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce board of directors, is pushing a new program called Marion Remote, which was first announced publicly in August 2020.

Backed by corporate sponsors and a groundswell of support from the local business community, Marion Remote is an ad campaign that aims to put Marion County on the map as a destination for those looking to live here and work from home for a company located elsewhere.

“It’s very exciting to see how far we’ve come and how quickly we’ve come to where we are today,” said Board.

Marion Remote is set to have its full launch in less than a month, according to Board. The campaign includes a website, social media and documentaries showing the allure of North Central West Virginia.

“We’re very excited that all of West Virginia is interested in this,” said Board. “Marion Remote is moving full-steam ahead.”

Marion Remote and House Bill 2026 all show that West Virginia is looking toward the future.

“With West Virginia in general and Marion County specifically, we have a lot of the lifestyle amenities that people are looking for,” said Del. Joey Garcia, D-Fairmont. “It’s not as crowded, there’s a sense of community and there’s all these outdoor activities available. We’re not like those big cities.”

These new remote workers would not only bolster the state economy, but also provide a new workforce with modern skills.

“They bring a market that will help our economy.” said Garcia. “It’ll bring more of a demand and possibly a set of skills that might help us attract other employers.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic pushed much of the workforce into remote work situations, many companies are finding remote work opportunities are increasing employee productivity.

West Virginia is looking to be ahead of the curve and take advantage of this new lifestyle with these changes.

“I think what’s really important is that West Virginia isn’t waiting,” said Garcia. “We’re taking advantage at the on-set instead of waiting until other states do what we’re trying to do now.

“This is an opportunity for us to get in at the very beginning, show we have a beautiful state, wonderful people and show that this is a place people should want to live. So let’s make it easier.”

Reach David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at dkirk@timeswv.com.

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