CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Anyone in West Virginia would agree that it's important to take steps to remove barriers that impede private-sector job growth, said Bob Welty, Fifth Third Bank's state president in West Virginia.Welty attended Wednesday's kickoff event at the state Capitol for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's "Jobs Summit & Listening Tour."The jobs summit is part of Morrisey's 17-point plan for his first 100 days in office to meet with business leaders, consumer advocates and interested public citizens, the attorney general said.Morrisey presented five goals of the "Jobs Summit & Listening Tour" to nearly 50 people Wednesday afternoon.They are:To identify and take steps to remove regulatory barriers that impede job growth in the state.Increase private-sector employment in West Virginia.Attract new capital and investments to the state in order to "foster vibrant manufacturing, service and construction sectors."Enhance West Virginia's competitiveness when compared to surrounding states.Improve the state's image to people and businesses located outside the state.
"If you look at his five points, Fifth Third has a strong commitment to West Virginia and his goals," Welty said. "We're interested in ideas anyone has in spurring economic growth in West Virginia. ... These are people looking for fresh ideas."The Mountain State has many different types of economies and regions with diverse ideas, Morrisey said. He wants to ensure "no part of the state is left behind."
Morrisey will travel across West Virginia over the next six months to hear residents' thoughts about what can be done to improve the state's business climate.He will visit the Eastern Panhandle later this month, he said."The jobs summit cannot succeed without public input," Morrisey said. "There's a perception problem out there. Let's figure out what we can do to change these perceptions ... so we can let people across the nation know how vibrant we are."Forbes ranked West Virginia 45th in the nation for "best states for business" last year. Another study put the state at 44th in the U.S. for business friendliness, Morrisey said.
Being ranked at the bottom isn't acceptable, he said."For years, the business climate has compared poorly to other states," he said. "Starting a business in West Virginia can be very daunting. We must kick-start job development."The state must clean its workforce of a perpetual prescription-drug problem, Morrisey said.Wendy E. McCuskey, president of the Associated Builders & Contractors West Virginia Chapter, said the construction sector has "a huge drug problem with our workers."When we host a job fair, about 10 to 15 people out of 150 pass a drug test at job fairs," McCuskey said after the jobs summit. "We're excited to have a partner as an advocate for business owners."The state lost 100 construction jobs last month.McCuskey said business owners with the Associated Builders & Contractors get "bogged down" with regulations, which makes their job that much harder.Morrisey said he plans to take each opinion presented during the "Jobs Summit & Listening Tour" and consider whether his office can do something about it.He also anticipates reaching out to affected state clients and giving them an opportunity to react to West Virginians' ideas.Finally, he may modify a package of ideas that he would present to the Legislature, he said."We're going to go around the state, ask questions and listen. We're going to benefit by getting your feedback," Morrisey said. "The attorney general's office will take all necessary steps to help move our economy forward."Morrisey asks West Virginians who do want to submit an opinion about how the attorney general's office can help attract jobs to the state to email firstname.lastname@example.org
and include in the subject line "Job Summit & Listening Tour."Reach Megan Workman at email@example.com or 304-348-5113.