Daily Archive for July 20 2010
“I am glad we made the move to West Virginia.”
That’s why local entrepreneur Jeff Imel responded to a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing West Virginia and its business climate. Imel, founder of Air Robotics LLC, is a tenant in the Alliance’s small business incubator.
Imel, concerned that people throughout the state and the country may believe some of the unfounded negative perceptions about West Virginia, felt compelled to respond: “West Virginia is a jewel. A treasure,” he says. “People sometimes say ‘no’ because they don’t ‘know’ the many advantages of doing business here.”
We’re proud to share his letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal with our members:
Brian Bolduc’s “Robert Byrd’s Highways to Nowhere” (op-ed. Weekend Journal, July 10) may have left your readers with the impression that the state of West Virginia is a desolate wasteland for business.
I am a business owner and my company designs and manufactures small unmanned aircraft systems, essentially “flying robots.” I recently moved my company to West Virginia from another state. In the site selection process I found the business environment in West Virginia to be vibrant and growing. In fact, more than $12.7 billion of new business investments have been made in West Virginia since 2005.
Within the borders of West Virginia there are hundreds of other innovative firms like my own designing, building and competing successfully in the global marketplace. These companies build robots used to destroy hidden bombs and manufacture systems and components used in the space program. They are involved in genetics, chemical manufacture, aerospace, defense, transportation and heavy machines.
Companies from around the world have found West Virginia to be a profitable location for their investment, and more than 22,000 West Virginians are now employed by companies from 25 countries. Not only are international companies coming to West Virginia, but our existing companies are competing successfully around the world. In 2009, businesses in West Virginia exported products to 135 countries. While U.S. exports grew a mere 17 percent over the past five years, West Virginia’s exports grew 53 percent during the same period.
I also learned that more than 4,800 patents granted by the Patent and Trademark Office since 1976 originated from inventors in West Virginia. Per capita, more patents originated from West Virginia than from Maine, Kentucky, Nevada, Alabama, South Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Arkansas and Mississippi. These are impressive numbers by themselves, but even more so when you consider all of this takes place in a state with a population of slightly less than 2 million people.
I tell my peers that they need to seriously consider West Virginia to locate their business. The environment is business friendly, there is a ready to work workforce, and there are resources available here not enjoyed by companies located in other states.
This thriving business environment is possible because of the hard working elected officials representing West Virginians in our state and federal government. Each of them works to make West Virginia open for business.
I am glad we made the move to West Virginia. I encourage your readers to see what West Virginia has to offer by visiting www.wvcommerce.org.
Jeff Imel, Founder
Air Robotics, LLC