CHARLESTON - Keith Burdette, cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Department of Commerce and executive director for the development office, gave “a picture of where we are” to those traveling to Charleston for Mineral County Day at the Legislature.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
CHARLESTON - Keith Burdette, cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Department of Commerce and executive director for the development office, gave “a picture of where we are” to those traveling to Charleston for Mineral County Day at the Legislature.
He said, “The focus here in this office is state development, and because of upcoming cuts in the state treasury,it is no secret we will have challenges in this office.”
“We are having a perfect storm in the energy field,” he said, naming West Virginia as the fourth highest in the nation in energy production, with coal, natural gas, and wind energy.
He said with coal in a declining stage in some counties it is also declining as the number one export for the state.
Burdette said, “Because of this, other state companies are expanding in the export business.”
Giving an example, he said that a thread company in Parkersburg is sending their product overseas for use in making guard uniforms for Buckingham Palace.
Mentioning the recent Proctor & Gamble business deal, where they broke ground for a $500 million plant, Burdette said, “We chased this deal for 18 months,” while having competition with other states wanting that business inside their own boundaries.
“When any company comes to our state for placement of their business,” he said,  “the state development authority works to make sure the company is successful.”
“Business in West Virginia is personal,” he said.
Along with businesses coming to the state or already established ones, he said that homeownership comes too, giving the statistic of “West Virginia having the highest homeowner rate in the nation.”
“They buy homes in West Virginia and stay,” Burdette said.
During the meeting, Mike Bland, county coordinator, asked Mary Jo Thompson, director for community development, several questions dealing with county development.
He asked, “What is available for new businesses?” and “What can Mineral County do to be more attractive for economic development?”
Thompson gave a short and to the point answer, “There is no new funding.”
In fact, she said that Gov. Tomblin “gave us word to manage what funding we have.”
Burdette did give Bland and others from Mineral County information about small businesses in the state.
He said that 85 percent of all businesses in the state have 20 or less employees.
Burdette also encouraged the development people of the county to always “keep in touch with the larger employers.”
Making mention of having business coaches on staff at the state development office, he said they would assist with developing a business plan and assist the business owners to get their finances in order.
One of those coaches, Sean Hill, who was present at the meeting, complimented the Mineral County people and said, “I know you care about your communities and businesses because you are here today.”
He suggested business owners continue to keep the West Virginia values, and when businesses are checking Mineral County for placement, “kill them with kindness.”
Hill said that another consideration for economic development is to keep the entrance into their community updated.
“The first impression for visitors or business people,” he said, is what they think upon arriving at the towns and cities.