September 28, 2016

US Senator committed to WV jobs in wake of flooding | The State Journal

In Washington, I constantly hear talk of an economic recovery. The national unemployment rate has decreased, and median national incomes have increased at the fastest annual rate since we began keeping record. But while this is welcome news, far too many West Virginians have been left out of this recovery. West Virginia in particular has been hit hard by the dramatic decrease in output from the coal industry, which has decreased by more than one-third since 2008.

On top of this, on June 23, our beautiful state was hit with a thousand-year flood. While we hoped these storms would pass, the rain quickly fell, with inches of water accumulating in just a few short hours. Because of the quickly rising water levels, our communities soon were flooded and under water, more devastated than we could have ever imagined.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin placed 44 of West Virginia’s 55 counties under a state of emergency. And soon after, the president declared the extreme flooding in West Virginia a national disaster.‎

I saw families devastated, cars abandoned under water, homes ripped from their foundations, engulfed in fire and businesses flooded and closed. Sadly, there is nothing that can replace what some people have lost. For the families and loved ones of the 23 West Virginians who perished in the floods, we must continue to be there for them and help them through this extremely difficult time.

Now it is more important than ever to keep our strong West Virginia resolve and keep spirits high in the midst of recovery. Time and time again in the face of challenge and adversity, West Virginians have risen to the occasion to help each other. That is one of the many things that makes West Virginia one of a kind. That is one reason why I am co-hosting a job fair this Friday, Sept. 30, in South Charleston with West Virginia University, WVU Medicine, WorkForce West Virginia, BridgeValley Community and Technical College, the Region III Workforce Investment Board, the Discover the Real WV Foundation and the West Virginia National Guard.

Although the job fair is open to anyone looking for a job or wanting to develop their career skills, one unique program included with this job fair is helping those that have been hardest hit by the flooding. I commend WVU Medicine, who set up a series of career workshops in Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties this week, to help those impacted by the flood in their job search.  

West Virginians are resilient, and when given the opportunity there is no challenge our state’s citizens cannot meet. Changes at the federal level can take time, though, and many survivors of the flood damage need to know right away that their voices are being heard. This job fair is an invaluable opportunity to improve the lives of many West Virginians, particularly in the flood-devastated regions.

The government alone cannot create jobs, but it can create a fertile environment that fosters economic growth. This is why we must fight to ensure that everyone who wants a job has a job. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, but an American issue that will only be solved by working together. To this end, I am working with my colleagues on both side of the aisle to ensure that our state feels this economic recovery we hear so much about.

If you or anyone in your family is looking for a job, the Advanced Technology Center at Bridge Valley Community and Technical College in South Charleston is the place to be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Sept. 30. Over 115 private sector and government employers and resources to help develop career skills will be present, all looking to harness the talent of our dedicated Mountain State workers. 

As your U.S. Senator, I remain committed to enhancing West Virginia’s employment climate and promoting economic development. These job fairs connect our talented citizens with the employers in need of their skills. I know that West Virginia feels left out of economic recovery, and I know the flooding adds yet another hardship to many of our struggling communities. I am here to tell you, though, that together, we will build a positive economic outlook for our state that gives all West Virginians the futures they deserve.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has represented West Virginia in Congress since 2010. He served as West Virginia’s governor from 2005-2010 and Secretary of State from 2001-2005.