West Virginia Department of Commerce Sense of Place

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Sense of Place



Sense of Place

by Jama L. Jarrett and Leslie Fitzwater

Outside West Virginia’s borders the state is known for two things: its breathtaking scenery and its wealth of raw materials that power the nation.

Tourists have long made the state’s majestic mountains, green valleys and clean mountain streams their playground. In a state where you can go whitewater rafting in the morning, visit an art exhibit in the afternoon and attend a symphony concert in the evening, it’s no wonder that the state’s tourism industry brings in $4 billion annually to West Virginia’s economy.

Below the state’s scenic landscape lies a plentiful supply of natural resources that energize the world. These fuels keep the lights on, power the country’s industries, and keep our electricity rates among the lowest in the nation. West Virginia’s coal and natural gas, as well as the state’s chemical and forest-based fuel supplies, provide the feedstock for the production of energy and alternative fuels that allow us to live comfortably and affordably.

However, with great wealth comes great responsibility. Even though the state is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, forward-thinking West Virginia business leaders are recognizing the need to use these resources responsibly. With the use of innovative technologies and out-of-the box thinking, West Virginia is taking a lead on keeping our environment productive, clean and enjoyable. 

Chose a story below to read more about responsible economic development in West Virginia.

CertainTeed - It a start-up cost of more than $100 million, the new CertainTeed plant is hailed as both an environmental and economic boon. Within three years, the new gypsum plant is expected to create 200 jobs.

Growing a Greener Mountain State - West Virginia and its progressive companies are uniquely poised to demonstrate national leadership, as these recent news items illustrate.

Brandon Holmes and George Rogers, Lights ON! West Virginia - In Oak Hill, two entrepreneurs are using LEED® certification and green building strategies for their business plan, building the state’s first LEED®-certified business incubator.

Mike McKechnie, Mountain View Builders - For Mike McKechnie it was the sense of place and the sustainable business opportunities West Virginia has to offer that attracted him to the state.

Keeley Steele, Bluegrass Kitchen - Although she left West Virginia shortly after high school, Keeley Steele returned just a few years later. Since returning, Steele and her husband have revitalized two properties that are now home to two of the city’s favorite restaurants: Bluegrass Kitchen and Tricky Fish.


"The Mountain State is a healthier place to create. There’s fresh air when chasing your dream."

Jeff James, chair, Create West Virginia, Charleston 

"While the rest of the country is trying to figure out how to live a good life, I think most of us in West Virginia know that we can get in the car, go for a drive through our beautiful mountains and be so thankful for being here."

Nancy McCoy Sostaric, owner, The Country Inn, Berkeley Springs