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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


WV Must Pursue Job Development Holistically, Responsibly

The Morgantown Dominion Post ran an opinion column on July 10, entitled, “Pulled gas pipeline shows pathway for W.V.’s progress”. The column seemed to celebrate the cancellation of Dominion Energy’s multi-billion-dollar Atlantic Coast Pipeline while using its demise as an example of the need to grow West Virginia’s technology economy.

Russ Lorince, former chair and current member of the TechConnect West Virginia Board of Directors, responded to the column in a letter to the editor, which was published in the Dominion Post on July 19. The column highlights the need for, and benefits of responsible energy development and the critical importance of building out our tech economy.


W.Va. Energy Doesn’t Have To Be Either/Or

By: Russ Lorince

To The Editor: Morgantown Dominion Post

Published July 19, 2020

Your paper recently touted the creation of sustainable, tech-driven jobs, a goal we all support.  Sadly, you did so while celebrating the failure of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and, in the process, advancing the shallow view that we have only a binary choice – either high-paying energy jobs or knowledge-based jobs.  In truth, we need a holistic approach as we continue the ongoing transition to tomorrow’s energy world and concurrently build New Economy capacity.  In the meantime, we benefit greatly from the 20,000 oil and gas jobs you reference.

For the past 15 years, statewide economic development professionals have worked hard to promote tech-based activity and economic diversity in WV and the state’s future pivots on continued successes in this arena.  While doing so, we should encourage energy companies which operate with ethical standards, collaborate with the state’s labor community and comply fully with environmental regulations to compete with our surrounding states’ use of their natural resources.  Pennsylvania and Ohio have found that path forward as their energy evolution advances.

It is clear WV must make a much larger investment in broadband, STEM and all related tech-based infrastructure to promote knowledge-based opportunities.  At the same time, a fully integrated linkage with our existing economy base surely grows our chance to be more competitive and build demand for new, sustainable jobs.  To suggest that we must walk away from our significant resources and thousands of quality jobs to focus only on our tech-based future is illogical and narrow.  We need all of the above.