As session continues, I am proud to see my fellow senators and myself making significant progress to improve the state of West Virginia. One focus of mine this session is to encourage job growth and expand the number of innovative technology companies we have in the state. I’m the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 312, which would create the Project Launchpad Act. I sponsored a similar bill last session, which unfortunately did not pass. This year, I’m confident that I will gain support from my fellow lawmakers to ensure this bill is signed into law.

Project Launchpad would allow the Governor to designate up to 10 geographic areas as economic development launch pads. The program’s initiative is to revive, renew, and rebuild our state’s business climate and create abundant job opportunities. Vision Shared Inc., a non-profit economic development think-tank comprised of business, labor and philanthropic leaders from throughout the State, created the program. Vision Shared Inc. has been given statutory responsibility to recommend legislation to promote economic development in West Virginia by the Legislature.

The areas selected by the Governor would focus on businesses focusing upon next-generation or modern technologies having a positive impact on our traditional extraction, chemical, and manufacturing industries. The benefitting business would have to adopt methods of manufacturing or employ cutting edge technology to help create new jobs and would benefit by receiving certain tax exemptions, deductions, abatements or credit from all local taxes. These improvements will help to ensure a brighter economic future and more job opportunities for our current work force and the youth of West Virginia.

Other states in the country have found success by growing the number of businesses using innovative technology including North Carolina and California. According to a study conducted by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, “for every job created in the technology sector, approximately 4.3 jobs are created in other local goods and services sectors across all income groups, including lawyers, dentists, schoolteachers, cooks and retail clerks, among many others.”

This bill is about looking forward to ensure jobs are available in West Virginia in the future. By creating and maintaining these good-paying jobs, we will be able to keep our state’s best and brightest professionals and youth in West Virginia, rather than losing them to more promising jobs outside of the state.

The bill has passed out of the Senate Economic Development Committee and is not being considered in the Senate Finance Committee. I am confident this bill will have a great impact on improving the state’s economy and providing the job opportunities our young professionals are seeking.

As always, I am proud to serve the great people of the 12th district and work hard to ensure a bright future for the Mountain State.

To write me, my address is Senator Sam Cann, State Capitol, Building 1, Room 218-W, Charleston, WV 25305. You can also call me at 304-357-7904. I encourage all of my constituents to contact me with any questions or concerns.