The Possibilities for Prosperity
Op-Ed by Delegate Mark Zatezalo
Charleston, WV - The economic situation in West Virginia is troubling from a personal as well as business perspective. At the same time, the bases for improving the situation are in front of us, if we choose to see them and act accordingly.
The boom in oil and gas production in the state is ongoing and the outlook is frankly better than I thought was possible. The results of exploration of shale units within state boundaries indicate that there are more layers showing promise than were previously thought to be viable.
The supply of cheap energy will last multiple decades and likely will be here even into the next century. The abundant supply of energy and our location near large population centers of the North America make West Virginia a more desirable location for business. These developments provide the basis for optimism, but they come with several strings attached.
First, the workforce must be ready to fill jobs in the new economy. Among other issues, drug use will be a deciding factor when determining employability. America is currently being anesthetized with drugs. Widespread drug use saps the ability to take advantage of opportunity.
Drug use will result in self-disqualification of persons applying for jobs. We MUST keep this in mind and work to: 1). Let our youth know the stakes involved, and 2). Provide those who were/are on drugs an opportunity to show that they are back in charge of their lives.
Second, the necessary skills will need to be developed to cover all skill sets required by energy development and by the manufacturing that follows plentiful cheap energy. The Legislature is taking steps to make West Virginia more competitive. When this is accomplished, we will need “all hands on deck” to bring prosperity.
One may say, “What if the jobs do not materialize?” To that question I will pose another. What have you lost if you strive to prepare yourself? The skills learned will be usable for other types of work or in other places. Preparing oneself for the future is not wasted effort.
The Legislature will play a key role in the drive to prosperity. We will need to be diligent and not make some of the historic decisions that resulted in the list of grievances that we have experienced in the past.
It is up to all of us to play a part in this new phase of the state’s history. We are all in this together, and success will depend upon cooperation. It will not be easy and will require hard work, but the possibility of success is within our grasp. I would rather dare to strive to succeed than sit and wait for “something to happen.”
Delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, is a Registered Professional Geologist and vice-chairman of the House Energy Committee.