Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Country Roads

I love my home state of West Virginia. I love the beautiful hills, the wonderful people and, of course, the Sweet 16-bound Moutaineers. But I cannot ignore a troubling aspect that continues to plague the state's reputation: its economy and general business environment. A recent study ranked the Mountain State dead last in lawsuit environment:
A study conducted by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform rates West Virginia as having the nation’s worst lawsuit climate in the United States. . . . The Lawsuit Climate 2010: Ranking the States survey measures how a state’s legal climate affects businesses. Survey respondents were made up of general counsels and senior attorneys or executives in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million. According to the report, West Virginia was rated last in each of ten elements used to determine a state’s overall position.
So apart from being a lawyer's paradise, businesses tend to eschew locating within the state. And the large companies that have set up shop seem to experience stagnate growth relative to their peers. Various reasons have been advanced to explain why this is the case, including a lack of competitive pay for executives, a relatively antiquated corporate governance structure and now, as noted, the need for tort reform. In any case, it is tough to know how to enact sweeping and meaningful change.

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