June 30--Beckley Register Herald, June 26, 2014
What's the first thing that pops into your mind when someone says "West Virginia exports"? If it's coal, you wouldn't be alone in your thoughts.
To be sure, coal is the No. 1 commodity exported by the state -- minerals and ores accounted for $4.6 billion of West Virginia's total merchandise exports in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
But if West Virginia is to keep afloat economically, there must be diversification.
And it appears that is just what is happening.
According to the Department of Commerce, 1,119 companies exported from West Virginia locations in 2012. Of those, 76.9 percent were small- and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees. West Virginia's export shipments of merchandise in 2013 totaled $8.6 billion.
Looking beyond those numbers, more than 100 commendations issued by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin this week to 37 top West Virginia business exporters show even more diversity.
West Virginia's exports to 72 different countries represent a wide range of products including consumer goods such as barrel saunas and rope sandals; technology such as computer software; biomedical such as large-scale DNA sequence production; automotive such as truck parts; and manufacturing such as fabricated steel products and industrial ceramics.
A large part of that diversification is represented in southern West Virginia.
--Fayetteville'sRobbins Co. exports conveyor systems to Chile, Norway and the Republic of Georgia.
--Barrel saunas made by Almost Heaven Saunas in Renick found their way to Finland, Mexico, Norway, Qatar, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
--Ezebreal LLC'sFrankford operation sent micro-blaster products to South America.
--Three Raleigh County firms sent products overseas -- Cogar Manufacturing, mining machinery; Mining Controls Inc., power distribution equipment; and Quality Environmental Containers of Beaver, laboratory sample containers.
Other products include science education kits for schools and universities, china, industrial ceramics, custom cabinetry, pipeline corrosion test kits, used industrial equipment, underground utility locators, fabricated steel products, computer software, rope sandals, bioanalytics, Internet advertising, marbles and more.
This is quite an accomplishment for Mountain State businesses.
While many want to see coal continue to reign as king for years to come, it's good that so many have seen -- and acted upon -- the need to diversify.
For a long time, coal is what everyone depended on to keep West Virginians working.
These awards are proof that there are other directions -- successful directions -- in which the state can move in order to keep people on the job.
(c)2014 the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.)
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