CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Several local business owners told Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., on Wednesday that exports are playing a growing role in the state's economy.Steve Spence, from the West Virginia Development Office, said state businesses exported about $9 billion in products in 2011. Coal, primarily metallurgical coal mined in Southern West Virginia -- accounted for $5.3 billion of that total.During the first six months of 2012, Spence said, West Virginia exported $3.5 billion worth of coal, which would reach $7 billion if the export rate remains the same during the current year's last six months.Leslie Drake, director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Charleston, said exports from West Virginia have increased by 31 percent this year.
Capito stressed the importance of recently passed federal legislation promoting trade with countries including South Korea, Colombia and Panama. "We passed these bills because they are job creators. They are big deals. They are essential."Capito presented the annual Export Achievement Certificate to Mike McCown and Industrial Bolting Technologies during a Charleston Area Alliance luncheon roundtable on Tuesday. Based in Charleston, IBT sells, rents, leases and repairs equipment to manufacturing companies around the world. The company's tools include: pneumatic and hydraulic torque wrenches, impact and hammer wrenches, flange spreaders, nut splitters and stud tensioners. McCown said his company services companies in oil fields from North Dakota down to Brazil. "We follow the oil basin, providing companies with power equipment." McCown began his businesses in 1996.Today, exports play a growing role in the state's economy, according to several people who attended the Area Alliance luncheon with Capito.Austin Amos, president of Convey Weigh in Dunbar, said, his products are "exported to 30 different countries all around the world." Convey Weigh scales are used by a wide variety of industries, including iron mining and steel production, food processing and chemicals. The scales also weigh and monitor diverse products such as sand, flour, coal and sugar. Alan Preiser, who owns Preiser Scientific in St. Albans, said his company also sells "equipment to several companies overseas. We are already expanding to South Korea." Preiser Scientific provides technical products and services to foreign and domcestic businesses including: research laboratories and educational institutions, as well as to medical, environmental and government laboratories.
"The internet has been the biggest factor promoting our international sales," Preiser said. After hearing several local business owners and state government officials speak, Capito said, "I am happy the trade agreements ... are opportunities for West Virginia. That makes me feel reinforced. I applaud everyone's ingenuity."