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The analysis considered opportunities in transportation, IT, and site infrastructure:

  • There is an opportunity to improve transportation indicators, as road and bridge quality lags behind peers (ranked 37th in road quality and 43rd in number of deficient bridges [85]
  • Despite past efforts, West Virginia ranks in the bottom 10 for households with access to broadband [86] , with majority of West Virginians not satisfied with connection costs (73%), speed (58%) or reliability (60%) [87] . Improving broad band access can create $1.9B in value from direct and indirect economic impact [88]  
  • Dual broadband access is also important for industries such as data centers, and West Virginia can increase attractiveness of the State for those industries by enduring potential data center target sites have sufficient broadband connectivity (interactive map [89] )
  • Compared to neighboring states, West Virginia has fewer sites available for prospective companies (225 vs. 1K+ in OH, VA and PA [90] ), and there currently is no site certification and remediation program to define development ready locations in the State.

Interact with Broadband Mapping of West Virginia

In addition to launching a site certification program (reference Section 6.1), West Virginia can consider exploring innovative financing mechanisms that leverage private sector financing to fund capitalintensive projects that can help remediate transportation infrastructure: 

  • For assets that can be profitable at or below market price, West Virginia can consider attracting private sector companies to build and operate the asset 
  • For unprofitable assets, West Virginia can consider options that can help make investment more attractive to the private sector: 
    • Direct government funding or lending (e.g., subsidies, grants) 
    • Government borrowing (e.g., bonds, Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA)) 
    • Government guarantees (e.g., debt guarantee, collateral provision) 
    • Shared equity through public-private partnerships
Government support would require incremental funds that can be used under any form of financing. These revenues could come from three different sources: 
  • Tax-based revenues, specifically focusing on sin taxes 
  • User-based revenues such as direct user fees (toll roads, membership fees)
  • Monetization of existing State assets (e.g., parking lots, buildings, roads)
A spectrum of available program designs exists, each of which involves different levels of institutional support and available funding. At the most basic level, the State could compile a database of the sites that are best suited for particular industries or applications, along with cost estimates of the level of investment that would be required to make them operational. If the site certification initiative is to be more comprehensive, for instance by covering a portion of the investment to remediate the sites, the State can consider financing through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) vehicles in order to meet the greater investment needed to meet these needs. 

The Legislature recently passed House Bill 3093 to foster broadband access in rural areas through debt guarantees, and the government can leverage this law to maximize the support provided to broadband co-operatives. 

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*Citations available upon request.