In FOR THE PAST COUPLE YEARS, when the staff at West Virginia Executive (WVE) magazine sat down to plan the annual energy and manufacturing issue, we strug- gled with content. Our goal as a statewide business magazine is to shine a positive light on the many successes of West Vir- ginia in an effort to change the state’s nar- rative. There are so many good people here doing good things that generally this task is easy. But let’s be honest: when it comes to energy and manufacturing, there hasn’t been a great deal of good news to share. When success stories are hard to find, our editorial staff looks at the challenges and tries to generate content that will lead to conversations and solutions for the state. There are some things, though, that dis- cussion on a personal level cannot change, like federal overregulation, a volatile coal market, the challenges of globalization and a scenario in which natural gas is in such high supply and low demand that the market bottoms out. This year is different, though. After interviewing the executive direc- tors of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association and Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia and the presidents of the West Virginia Coal Asso- ciation and West Virginia Manufacturers Association for this issue, it appears things are looking up for these two industries. Changes in state and national leadership have industry leaders who were once ex- pressing frustration over what they couldn’t fix now expressing cautious optimism. Things appear to be turning around, albeit slowly, for West Virginia’s energy and man- ufacturing industries and the businesses, families and communities they support. In this year’s annual energy and manu- facturing issue, the leadership of these four 8 WEST VIRGINIA EXECUTIVE Letter from the Publishers associations shared with us their respec- tive industry’s challenges and what legis- lative action can do to help spur growth in “Inside the Industry” on page 42. For the natural gas industry, infrastructure to move product to buyers is vital to a resur- gence. Read about the state’s current and upcoming pipeline projects in “Extend- ing Our Network” on page 49. With all these pipelines in the works, it won’t be long before the manufacturing industry will benefit from the once stagnant natural gas industry. In “A Blueprint for Success” on page 39, learn about the importance of competitiveness in manufacturing, where West Virginia ranks and which issues need to be addressed for us to come out on top. As our manufacturing industry reawak- ens, supply chain management will play a pivotal role in our success. In “The Supply Chain Advantage” on page 59, Dr. Javier Reyes explores the role supply chain man- agement can play in growing the state’s man- ufacturing industry while accomplishing much-needed economic diversification. For this issue, WVE also had the opportunity to speak with Austin Caperton, the new secretary of the West Virginia Depart- ment of Environmental Protection. In “Mountain State Stewardship” on page 54, Caperton discusses his new role, how he’ll use his industry experience to help the state navigate energy-related chal- lenges and how he hopes to inspire more efficiency in state government. In this issue’s Politics department, we asked individuals closely following six bills from this year’s legislative session to discuss what passage of each of these bills would mean for West Virginians and where each bill ended up at the end of the session. “Progress Report” on page 25 provides insight into the fights for legalizing medical marijuana, expanding broadband, provid- ing additional substance abuse facilities, as- sisting agriculture-based small businesses and reforming education. “West Virginia’s Rural Water Crisis” on page 33 takes a look at the work volunteers from Engineers Without Borders’ West Virginia University chapter performed over spring break in the small town of Prenter, where clean water has been unavailable since 2007. Our new Industry department revives WVE’s Winner’s Circle feature on page 82, which highlights 18 West Virginia companies doing big things to reach great success. In “Industry Outlook” on page 76, we examine West Virginia’s economy in terms of popu- lation, employment and exports and take a look at the eight industries forecast to have the highest employment gains over the next five years, according to WVU’s “West Virginia Economic Outlook 2017-2021.” On the cover of this issue, we are proud to present our Sharp Shooters Class of 2017. This year’s class is comprised of 10 suc- cessful West Virginians who have exhib- ited a commitment to their careers and a passion for giving back to the Mountain State. To nominate someone for the Class of 2018, visit www.wvexecutive.com/ sharp-shooter-nomination-form. The optimism hovering over the energy and manufacturing industries in West Virginia gives us hope that these industries are on the cusp of a resurgence. Perhaps, in these areas, West Virginia can be the comeback kid and provide much-needed relief to our workforce, business commu- nity and state economy.