Every day, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce works to make West Virginia a better place to do business by giving private-sector employers a voice in state politics and protecting business interests before regulatory bodies, the Legislature, and the courts.

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Steve Roberts: New jobs in the new year

As a new year begins, attention is correctly turning to priorities for our state and nation.

Job creation, economic development and improved education results for our children should be the highest priorities of West Virginia leaders as 2017 begins.

The Daily Mail Opinion page regularly points to the importance of a sound economy. As recently as Dec. 23, a Daily Mail editorial outlined a vision for job creation in our state (Are West Virginians done leaving home for work?).

Businesses already located in West Virginia are the leading creators of new jobs. Experts widely agree that business is the engine of job growth and economic development in West Virginia and throughout the United States.

In our state, most businesses are small and operate with slim margins and little room for error. Larger businesses must be constantly concerned about their ability to operate in West Virginia in the face of rising costs and more competition for customers.

The past several years have been especially difficult for many businesses. It is unfortunate that more businesses have closed than opened in the United States during the past eight years.

One result of fewer business startups is fewer available jobs, especially for entry level work. As 2016 ends, the workforce participation rate, defined as the number of working age people actually employed, has fallen to levels not seen in our country in forty years.

And our state is at the bottom of the list. West Virginia is 50th in the level of participation by working age adults in the workforce.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce has long believed that business owners and managers know best what will help them to remain open and to employ our West Virginia workers. Business leaders are well positioned to offer suggestions about what they need to remain open and grow in West Virginia.

As elected officials prepare to lead in 2017 and beyond, they could do the economy and workers a great favor by listening to the businessmen and women who live right here in our communities.

Our small business neighbors tell us they need to live in a state that supports them and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit. They are looking for a platform that values bold initiative, rewards investment, hard work, perseverance and pluck.

Specifically, they need fair taxes that allow and encourage reinvestment and growth. They must have a judiciary rooted in the notion of fundamental fairness and adherence to uniform interpretation of the law.

They require state and federal rules that make sense and that do not seek to punish the fair-minded.

Education and the workforce readiness of our graduates is key. Many experts say that businesses will seek those locations that provide a capable, well-trained, drug-free workforce.

In West Virginia, we are paying the price for taking too much for granted. The heavy hand of regulations and high cost of government services and, in some cases, overreach of the courts against business, have sent the wrong message.

Additionally, the high cost and burdens of interpreting and complying with federal mandates such as the Affordable Care Act, the Clean Power Plan and the Dodd/Frank Act have added to the challenges of job creation.

The consequences of bad policies are being paid most dearly by our hard working West Virginia families.

Those communities around our nation that are seeing new businesses and job growth have listened to employers. They have made adjustments to their laws and regulations. They have sought to put pro-growth leaders into their most important offices. They have insisted on fair, stable and predictable laws and courts that are even-handed and fair in the dispensation of justice.

The West Virginia Legislature began listening to the needs of business two years ago and embarked on significant changes that will put us in a better competitive position in the future.

Our state’s voters reaffirmed the work of the Legislature by returning even more pro-jobs legislators to the Capitol in the 2016 elections.

There is much to be done before our state regains parity in its job creation climate. But the hard work has begun and because voters support job creation and economic progress, our state can and will turn the corner.

The member businesses of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce employ over half of our state’s workers. Our members have consistently said that they will expand and grow if given the opportunity.

As 2017 begins, we urge lawmakers and concerned citizens to listen to the voices of your small business neighbors and to continue enacting policies that will drive job growth, education improvement and a better future for all West Virginians.

Steve Roberts is president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the voice of business in West Virginia.

- See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/daily-mail-commentary/20170102/steve-roberts-new-jobs-in-the-new-year-daily-mail#sthash.a7TCz7s9.dpuf

As a new year begins, attention is correctly turning to priorities for our state and nation.

Job creation, economic development and improved education results for our children should be the highest priorities of West Virginia leaders as 2017 begins.

The Daily Mail Opinion page regularly points to the importance of a sound economy. As recently as Dec. 23, a Daily Mail editorial outlined a vision for job creation in our state (Are West Virginians done leaving home for work?).

Businesses already located in West Virginia are the leading creators of new jobs. Experts widely agree that business is the engine of job growth and economic development in West Virginia and throughout the United States.

In our state, most businesses are small and operate with slim margins and little room for error. Larger businesses must be constantly concerned about their ability to operate in West Virginia in the face of rising costs and more competition for customers.

The past several years have been especially difficult for many businesses. It is unfortunate that more businesses have closed than opened in the United States during the past eight years.

One result of fewer business startups is fewer available jobs, especially for entry level work. As 2016 ends, the workforce participation rate, defined as the number of working age people actually employed, has fallen to levels not seen in our country in forty years.

And our state is at the bottom of the list. West Virginia is 50th in the level of participation by working age adults in the workforce.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce has long believed that business owners and managers know best what will help them to remain open and to employ our West Virginia workers. Business leaders are well positioned to offer suggestions about what they need to remain open and grow in West Virginia.

As elected officials prepare to lead in 2017 and beyond, they could do the economy and workers a great favor by listening to the businessmen and women who live right here in our communities.

Our small business neighbors tell us they need to live in a state that supports them and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit. They are looking for a platform that values bold initiative, rewards investment, hard work, perseverance and pluck.

Specifically, they need fair taxes that allow and encourage reinvestment and growth. They must have a judiciary rooted in the notion of fundamental fairness and adherence to uniform interpretation of the law.

They require state and federal rules that make sense and that do not seek to punish the fair-minded.

Education and the workforce readiness of our graduates is key. Many experts say that businesses will seek those locations that provide a capable, well-trained, drug-free workforce.

In West Virginia, we are paying the price for taking too much for granted. The heavy hand of regulations and high cost of government services and, in some cases, overreach of the courts against business, have sent the wrong message.

Additionally, the high cost and burdens of interpreting and complying with federal mandates such as the Affordable Care Act, the Clean Power Plan and the Dodd/Frank Act have added to the challenges of job creation.

The consequences of bad policies are being paid most dearly by our hard working West Virginia families.

Those communities around our nation that are seeing new businesses and job growth have listened to employers. They have made adjustments to their laws and regulations. They have sought to put pro-growth leaders into their most important offices. They have insisted on fair, stable and predictable laws and courts that are even-handed and fair in the dispensation of justice.

The West Virginia Legislature began listening to the needs of business two years ago and embarked on significant changes that will put us in a better competitive position in the future.

Our state’s voters reaffirmed the work of the Legislature by returning even more pro-jobs legislators to the Capitol in the 2016 elections.

There is much to be done before our state regains parity in its job creation climate. But the hard work has begun and because voters support job creation and economic progress, our state can and will turn the corner.

The member businesses of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce employ over half of our state’s workers. Our members have consistently said that they will expand and grow if given the opportunity.

As 2017 begins, we urge lawmakers and concerned citizens to listen to the voices of your small business neighbors and to continue enacting policies that will drive job growth, education improvement and a better future for all West Virginians.

Steve Roberts is president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the voice of business in West Virginia.

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2016 POLICY SOLUTIONS FOR WEST VIRGINIA - the Chamber is proud to present it's policy solutions for West Virginia. Click here to read them.