Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Growth in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle Comes From Virginia Prosperity and Maryland Folly

Despite the economic slowdown, despite the persistent problems of state tax and regulation policy, West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle continues to see strong growth.

Two factors contribute to the growth. One is spillover from Virginia's business friendly system. Multiple outlets consistently rank Virginia as the friendliest state for business growth.  The cluster of Northern Virginia counties within 90 minutes of Washington DC saw the most spectacular development. According to the State Journal Winchester, mere miles from Hampshire County, rocketed from 134 to 41 on the best performing cities list.

Winchester, population of near 30,000, and other growing cities along the Interstate 81 corridor, are technically suburbs of Washington.  Those who can afford to do so are streaming through the gaps and over the mountains into West Virginia, colonizing exurbs.  

Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands counties are benefiting from Virginia's prosperity.

Other counties reap from the folly of their northern neighbor, Maryland.

Maryland's anti-business policies and crackdown on personal liberty drive people south of the Potomac.   According to US Census Bureau statistics, West Virginia counties bordering Maryland tend to have population and jobs growth.  The Maryland counties have either losses or growth that lags behind their cross river brethren in the Mountain State.  

Either way, Eastern Panhandle representatives need to keep pushing Charleston to reform regulatory and tax laws to continue the growth.  Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire, Hardy, Pendleton, Mineral, and Grant counties are poised to reap the benefits.

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