Morgan, Hampshire, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties were recognized as the Western Potomac Economic Partnership in an executive order signed by Governor Joe Manchin on March 11.
“This will enable local governments to work together, as a region, to promote economic development opportunities, while highlighting our many benefits, like a low cost of living, natural beauty, nice people and a low crime rate,” Manchin said.
The partnership will help local governments better serve their customers and will educate others on why West Virginia is a great place to work and raise a family, Manchin said.
The Western Potomac Economic Partnership, or West-PEP, is a marketing effort to inform people about the positives of doing business in West Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle counties, said Matt Turner, the governor’s communications director.
The partnership gives a chance to sell people on the area’s value, its proximity to major metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C., and the local workforce. There are a number of national and international companies that want access to this market, Turner said.
“The new Western Potomac Economic Partnership is a cooperative effort to gain a competitive marketing advantage for our area in terms of economic development efforts that are targeted mainly to the metro area,” said Delegate Daryl Cowles. “We hope to draw jobs and business investment into our area from the trillion dollar economy of Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Baltimore economy,” Cowles said.
The push to create the new economic partnership zone was led by State Senator Herb Snyder of Jefferson County, who worked closely with the governor’s office.
Region 9 Planning & Development Council will be the fiscal agent for West-PEP. The funding will come from local, state and private money, Cowles said. The West Virginia Development Office, the Gateway New Economy Council, county governments and other local government entities will be invited to participate in the effort and funding.
Cowles is excited about the commitment of Governor Manchin to showcase West Virginia as a preferred place of business. “The creation of the Western Potomac Economic Partnership is a beginning of a new cooperative effort to attract jobs and investment to the four-county region,” Cowles said.