By Catherine Zacchi
There is nothing like a reunion after a long absence to bring home this fact: things change.
The last 10 to 20 years have brought dramatic changes to north central West Virginia. This year the national media have taken notice. NBC Nightly News, Time, Forbes.com and The Wall Street Journal have all reported on Morgantown’s low unemployment rates, calling the area a “Boomtown” and among the “Best Small Cities for Jobs.” Even in these challenging economic times, the Morgantown area is expected to continue to grow, according to West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
Morgantown’s economic strength is attributed to the presence of the type of employers least vulnerable to business trends: universities, health care centers and government agencies.
Many of those jobs can be found along West Virginia’s High Technology Corridor. This 73-mile stretch along Interstate 79 is home to the world’s largest cluster of biometric and identity security firms. Their specialized skills protect our nation’s security at home and abroad. They also create career opportunities that have allowed West Virginians to come home to the Mountain State.
West Virginia’s High Technology Corridor
“We had a good understanding of the community and a lot of respect for the people and talent in West Virginia, particularly in the High Technology Corridor. We chose the location because of its proximity to industry, including the FBI, Department of Defense and intelligence agencies, as well as academia,” said John Mears, director of biometrics for Lockheed Martin. Read more.Read more.
“Our greatest strength is our people. I have my hand on the company’s tiller to set our direction, but it’s our engineers who have the intellect, the talent and the work ethic. It’s humbling to see them pull off the technical miracles they do,” said Craig Hartzell, CEO of Azimuth Inc. Read more.Read more.
“Over 30 percent of Azimuth’s employees are veterans, representing the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Navy. The veterans who work for us are still serving their country. They were in uniform. Now they are supporting the next generation in uniform. We have personal commitments to those individuals. That’s a big motivator to do good work,” said Craig Hartzell, CEO of Azimuth Inc. Read more.Read more.