CHARLESTON - Once upon a time, all the clothes Delegate Tom Azinger of Wood County wore to the Legislature were made in West Virginia.
"Except my unmentionables," he said.
Now the shirts, suits and shoes are no longer made in West Virginia and that's one thing Azinger said he hopes a new committee empaneled by the speaker of the House to study ways to encourage business growth and entrepreneurship can solve.
Azinger, R-Wood, and Bob Ashley, R-Roane, are among the 25 delegates named to the House Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Work Group by Speaker Tom Miley.
The committee met Monday night in Charleston to hear from organizations offering resources to small businesses.
"I think what the speaker wants are ideas on how to expand business and to create more employment all around the state," Azinger said.
Azinger said the work group will brain storm ideas, explore any recommendation that will create jobs in West Virginia, he said. Wood County may be a major player in such efforts as a firm has chosen Washington Bottom for a multi-billion-dollar ethane cracker plant.
"As legislators gather in Charleston for our monthly interim meetings, we are going to take the opportunity to meet and get a feel for what resources are available to small business owners and potential entrepreneurs," said Delegate Doug Skaff, chairman. "In addition to grant opportunities, we want to know what kinds of business and legal services are provided and what kind of small businesses can benefit from them."
Miley said the work will hold forums around the state next year. After the Legislature convenes, Miley said he intends to make the panel a permanent standing committee to consider legislation affecting small businesses.
"I firmly believe in and have a passion for small-business growth in West Virginia," Miley, a non-voting member of the group, said. "But we can't just talk among ourselves about the need to encourage these businesses - we should facilitate a meaningful discussion to find out what the Legislature can do to help small businesses be successful."
Vice chairmen of the work group are Delegate Bill Hartman, D-Randolph, a retired insurance agency owner, and Delegate Jason Barrett, D-Berkeley, a restaurant owner. Skaff is a managing partner of the Building & Remodeling Warehouse in Nitro.
Members are attorneys, engineers, in construction, farming and financial services. Also on the panel are: Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia; Tim Manchin, D-Marion; Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor; Jim Morgan, D-Cabell; Linda Phillips, D-Wyoming; John Pino, D-Fayette; Doug Reynolds, D-Cabell; Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson; Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton: Harry Keith White, D-Mingo; Larry Williams, D-Preston; Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; Allen Evans, R-Grant; Marty Gearhart, R-Mercer; Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur; Eric Householder, R-Berkeley; Carol Miller, R-Cabell; Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha; Erikka Storch, R-Ohio; Ron Walters, R-Kanawha.
"These are the people who are out there, day in and day out, working to make their businesses succeed and maintain a payroll," Miley said.