Tennant talks business, jobs in listening tour

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says if she’s elected to the Senate, her number one priority would be supporting good-paying jobs. She also vowed to protect coal and chemical jobs while proposing new ideas to make the Mountain State more competitive for 21st century jobs.

Tennant made the comments at the launch of her jobs and business agenda in Morgantown Monday. She met with local AFL-CIO and business leaders to discuss the second topic on her statewide listening tour this summer.

“It’s important that I share with West Virginians my visions for the state,” Tennant said.

She added it’s equally important to hear citizens’ vision for the state. Tennant wants to take the feedback she receives on tour back to Washington.

Tennant is running against Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito for U.S. Senate. She said she plans to usher high tech manufacturing jobs into West Virginia and foster manufacturing growth.

West Virginia is blessed with coal, natural gas, wind, solar and water, Tennant said. That is where she sees the state’s manufacturing resurgence stemming from.

“We can fuel it in West Virginia,” she said.

Tennant said a perfect example of the state’s natural resources fueling manufacturing is natural gas and 3D printing.

“It’s not just this neat, cool idea that’s coming out of the Robert C. Byrd Institute at Marshall,” Tennant said. “It’s a real, true concept that will be the resurgence of micro-manufacturing or manufacturing start-ups.”

Tennant said that Wood County’s proposed cracker plant could produce the ethylene to make plastics, which is a main component of 3D manufacturing.

“We do have the manufacturing know-how,” Tennant said.

She’s looking next door to Ohio and how they use their manufacturing know-how. Tennant said the state has about 27,000 jobs where workers are making components for wind turbines or solar panels.

“I would love to see Solar World have its East Coast manufacturing plant they’ve been looking for run here in West Virginia,” Tennant said.

Tennant touted her time as Secretary of State.

Tennant said she made it easier to do business because she lowered fees and cut red tape during her time as Secretary of State. She added, as a small business owner herself, she knows that small business owners want efficiency.

“Ninety-six percent of our economy is based on small businesses in West Virginia,” Tennant said. “That’s why it’s so important as a U.S. Senator that I would support the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act.”

The legislation would provide tax credits to businesses that hire new employees.

Tennant is also focused on eliminating tax loop holes and working for the middle class.

It’s important to close tax loop holes and foster middle class growth, she said.

“It’s important to keep jobs in the United States and West Virginia and not allowing these huge corporations to ship jobs overseas,” Tennant said. “And once they’re overseas they’re having the ability to have tax havens where they’re not paying taxes in the United States.”

That, Tennant said, hurts jobs creation back home and harms workers.

In a statement Monday evening, a Capito spokeswoman touted the congresswoman’s record.

“While some people simply talk about results, other people deliver them. Shelley Moore Capito has a proven record of putting West Virginia jobs first and tirelessly advocating for a pro-growth agenda,” said Amy Graham, Capito for Senate spokeswoman. “The only record Natalie Tennant has is one of supporting President Obama and his job-killing, coal-ending policies. Since the day Obama’s political allies recruited Natalie Tennant to run for Senate, her every move has been scripted by the anti-coal activists propping up her campaign, and it’s no coincidence this announcement comes just days after the devastating backlash from her high-dollar fundraiser with coal-hating Californians. Natalie Tennant is desperately trying to change the subject in the hopes that West Virginians won’t catch on to her anti-coal antics and her strong support of President Obama’s harmful policies.”

Tennant’s agenda opposes President Obama’s stance on the Trans Pacific Trade Agreements.

“When we don’t know what kind of negotiations are taking place, we don’t know how it’s hurting West Virginia workers,” Tennant said. “We need to see that it is fair trade taking place.”

Tennant’s plan also calls for training West Virginia’s workers for new jobs.

“The state’s technical and community colleges are leading the way in training workers for high-skilled technical jobs in fields like natural gas and solar energy,” Tennant said. “This tour is about made in West Virginia, made in America.”

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.

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