We Have Popcorn, But No Jobs
Economic Development Defined
Friday September 6, 2002
With new jobs as hard to come by as
doctors at CAMC, Appalachian warlords
keep trying to delude the masses into
that education is economic
But that's not all. News releases from
Virginia Development Office since June
reveal that economic development has
defined down even further.
Development Director David
minions appear to have been thinking so
outside the box that Pluto is closer -- so
fact, that economic development can
anything from a popcorn machine to a
The agency has issued 66 releases to
in the last three months. A few deal
advancements on the job front, though
expansions have not offset job
The rest of the releases were nothing
more than smiley-face notes about
political grants-giving masquerading as
All 66 blurbs began with the three most
important words in a government
developmeister's vocabulary: "Gov. Bob
Wise . . ."
As in this one from June 14: "Gov. Bob
Wise today awarded a $500
Community Partnership grant to the
Calhoun County Commission.
"Funds will be used to enable the Upper
West Fork Volunteer Fire
Department to purchase a grill, popcorn
machine and other equipment for
the department's bluegrass
The release went on to note that the
development office administers the
grant program, which "supports
community enrichment projects that
provide a better living environment or
expand economic development
Better living environment? At this rate,
West Virginians pretty soon will be
funding checkerboards and liters of
Another "local economic development
assistance grant" for $100,000 will
facilitate locker room and athletic field
upgrades in Hamlin, where booster
club hot dog revenue must be down.
Economic development pros-pects in
Nicholas County, at least in the area
served by the Hookersville Muddlety
Fire Department, have brightened
considerably, thanks to $18,000 that
will enable members to pave the
driveway and hang three garage doors
at the fire hall.
Economic expansion in Boone County
comes in the form of a new P.A.
system, storage cart and playground
equipment for the Spruce River
Community Center. One cannot know
how this $15,000 expenditure
might bear on decisions of corporate
titans scouting around for a plant
The Davy Volunteer Fire Department
will receive $3,000 to buy three fire
hose nozzles. Iaeger has been enriched
to the tune of $2,000 for
improvements to the Little League field.
Let it be known here and now.
McDowell County is open for
Spencer is open even wider, with a new
police cruiser made possible by a
$20,000 gift from Wise and the
The Mon Valley Voice, described as a
project" in Rivesville, has received
$4,000 in local "economic
development" assistance. The least the
Voice could do is run the
development office's news releases.
Little Craigsville in Nicholas County is
to be eminently more developable
with $2,000 worth of new
The Logan County Board of Education
picked up $25,000 for community
playground improvements, including
spruced-up horseshoe pitching areas.
Quality of life cannot be underestimated
as a jobs magnet.
Wheeling got $20,000 for a fireworks
show and fire department
equipment. This is what state
development specialists call synergy.
Political empire-building is being billed
as economic development activity
in West Virginia.
The people never catch on. If their
leaders didn't tax them to death, West
Virginians could buy their own
streetlights and fireworks and garage
Instead, they passively send all their
money to Charleston, and count
themselves blessed when a politician
returns some chump change with his
name attached to the gift.
This is political development, which is
among the reasons why there's
hardly any economic development.
No wonder West Virginians are on the
short list to star in the new Beverly
Hillbillies show. Don't blame CBS. We've
got it coming.