CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- FORBES magazine dropped West Virginia from 43rd to 45th place among the states for business climate. The magazine ranked Maine as the least attractive state.
Forbes looks at states based on six factors -- business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.
It showed West Virginia with only a 1.2 percent five-year annual growth rate in gross state product, a population growth of just two-tenths of a percent since 2006, and the lowest college attainment rate in the nation at just 17 percent of the population over the age of 25.
And although Maine was scored the least attractive state, its gross state product per employee beat that of both West Virginia and Montana.
Wow. The business climate here has been so bad for so long that it is 49th in business activity per person.
A state that once was home to a thriving Chemical Valley in Kanawha County, a healthy steel industry in the Northern Panhandle and glass factories throughout the state is now shunned by business.
A repositioning is in order.
THE re-opening of the stamping plant in South Charleston means that parts for BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen soon will be made in West Virginia.
Gestamp, based in Madrid, Spain, will invest at least $100 million in the plant. But Paul Meisel, controller for the plant, gave a troubling answer when asked about the quality of the work force.
"It all depends on the particular job you're hiring for," Meisel said. "The fallout here is not higher - it's probably a little lower than I've experienced in other locations. We've had good luck hiring engineers, good luck hiring business people. I'd say on the whole, the skills are available.
"The biggest concern I have when you hire a production entry-level workforce is your turnover is always big. One issue is substance abuse. Over the years I've seen more people terminated for not coming to work than for any other cause. You do see some issues but it's not so bad.
"Some people say they have a GED (General Educational Development certificate) or high school diploma but don't. If you don't have one, we just can't let you in the door."
Small wonder that in addition to phasing out the corporate net income tax, state officials are focusing on improving the state's work force.