UNITED Bankshares Inc. announced this week its acquisition of Virginia Commerce Bancorp. Inc. of Arlington, Va., for $490.6 million in an all-stock transaction.
This comes a decade after Richard Adams, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, announced in 2002 that the No. 1 priority of "West Virginia's bank" is expansion in the nation's capital and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia.
The acquisition also comes more than two years after a panel discussion at the 2010 Business Summit, when Adams said:
"What separates the environment in West Virginia and Virginia? The answer is clear to me: It's all about policy: tax policy, judicial reform policy, education policy.
"There is no question: If West Virginia is to succeed from an economic standpoint, every issue faced in the Legislature, we should ask, 'Are we competitive if we pass this legislation?'"
What was true then is true today. When a top banker at West Virginia's bank speaks, prudent legislators should listen.
IN 2009, New York State decided to raise taxes on those with income of $500,000 or more a year to a whopping 8.97 percent.
In 2010, some millionaires decided to move to Florida where the income tax rate is zero, the New York Post said. And in some cases, they took their companies with them.
"Florida is a state of choice," said Thalius Hecksher, global development chief for Apex Fund Services, which moved many of its operations to Palm Beach.
"It's organically grown. There's no need to drag people down here. It's a zero-income-tax jurisdiction."
Many people warned New York that it would lose revenue on the deal. Last year the state relented and dropped its rate to 6.85 percent for income of between $300,000 and $2 million. For those making more than 2 million, New York dropped the rate to 8.82 percent.
Does anyone seriously think a drop of 0.15 percent in the tax rate will lure any double-millionaire back from Florida?As West Virginians have learned over the years, it is far easier to drive successful people away than it is to attract them.