The Mountain State is the second largest coal producer in the U.S. and the seventh largest in natural gas. It is also the third most forested state. These natural endowments have led to its leadership in energy, chemicals and wood-building products. But the state also has a base in manufacturing, including steel, automotive and aerospace. More recently, biotech and pharmaceuticals have taken hold, as well as information technology. A cluster of organizations in north-central West Virginia is referred to as the “Silicon Valley of America’s biometrics activity.”
Most major chemical and polymer companies in the U.S. have a presence in West Virginia, drawn to the state by the abundant natural gas and water supplies, skilled workforce, and supportive higher education system. The state also has a strong transportation infrastructure and competitive tax structure. Many sites throughout the state offer shared services, colocation, existing permits and ready infrastructure. With major shale fields running under most of the state’s land mass – Marcellus, Utica and Rogersville – West Virginia has become a major natural gas producer in recent years, which has created essential feedstock for the chemical industry.
Virginia’s growing cluster of aerospace companies is fueled by an array of advantages. The state borders Virginia and Maryland, top markets for aerospace products, with dense concentrations of national defense contractors, corporations and federal agencies. From high-tech innovators to established titans of the industry, West Virginia’s aerospace companies are engaged in aircraft maintenance and repair, precision metal stamping, and production of rocket motors, defense missiles, aircraft subassemblies and vital materials such as composites, titanium and alloy powder.
About 78% of West Virginia is covered in hardwood forests, and almost all of it is available for timber production. West Virginia is a leader in primary and secondary wood products, from green and kiln-dried lumber to fencing, flooring, pallets and crates, cabinets, furniture, veneers and charcoal. In addition, West Virginia has abundant supplies of coal and limestone, which are used in cement making. Byproducts from coal-fired power plants are used in manufacturing wallboard.
With its abundance of natural resources, West Virginia ranks fifth in the nation in total energy production. The state ranks seventh among states in natural gas production and second in coal production. Renewable energy sources, including wind, solar and hydroelectric, continue to gain ground in
West Virginia’s energy portfolio. Situated among abundant natural gas reserves in the Marcellus, Utica and Rogersville shale formations, West Virginia provides a competitive advantage for companies seeking proximity to natural gas transmission lines and storage fields. West Virginia also has a reliable and cost-competitive electric generation, transmission and distribution system.