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As someone who grew up in West Virginia and been here all my life, it is encouraging to see the evolution of our state and communities. The reinvention of small towns who adapt to a change in the industrial landscape is inspiring. West Virginia has always been a state of neighbors helping neighbors, and I’m filled with pride when I see signs proudly stating, “All are welcome!”

That message doesn’t really apply to everyone, unfortunately, or so I’m learning. 

An amendment offered by Senator Mike Romano, a Democrat in the 12th district, attempted to eliminate much needed relief for our state’s manufacturers. The Senator indicated that business tax relief would go outside of West Virginia. He forgets the number of small manufacturers that struggle in our state to survive every single day and neglects to acknowledge that small business like mine rely on other, sometimes larger businesses, as consumers of the products we manufacturer. 

The continued tone of the Senators remarks meant to vilify the state’s manufacturing industry and so-called “big business” and pander to the political interests. He didn’t take the time to explain that more than 90 percent of the state’s manufacturers, including my company Cyclops Industries, are small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Cyclops was founded by my grandfather here in West Virginia more than 60 years ago, and I’m proud to continue our tradition of manufacturing sight glass and other products to improve safety in industrial settings. 

Beyond the seeming disregard for our industry, West Virginians should demand to know why some legislators want to discourage manufacturing investment in our state. Including all of those who voted in support of the Senator’s amendment. 

I, for one, would like to know why those legislators work to create villains among responsible companies that have invested here. These companies are West Virginians by choice, making large capital investments and creating great careers that provide an opportunity to live, work and raise a family in West Virginia just like Cyclops. Why would they demonize these companies? The answer is simple and sad: it’s politics as usual. 

It is time for West Virginia to hold elected leaders accountable for putting politics and rhetoric over what is best for our state. West Virginians need good jobs with good wages. They need health care and benefits, and they need representatives who will work across the aisle to make these things happen.

Sadly, some seem to be willing to squander an opportunity to make real change in our state. They are trading the opportunity to welcome manufacturing growth and investment to West Virginia for the chance to make a cheap political statement. 

Hopefully they can wake-up to the benefits that a robust manufacturing economy can provide our state and support allowing West Virginians to have a voice in our future with yes votes on SJR 9 and SB 837 to grow manufacturing while bringing an end to West Virginia’s taxation of personal vehicl es. 

Kim Mack, 
Cyclops Industries