W. Virginia trying to change its hillbilly image





Shedding the state's hillbilly image has become a personal crusade of Gov. Joe Manchin, a charismatic Democrat who has authorized a multimillion blast of cash and marketing aimed not only at rehabilitating the region's reputation, but also stemming a three-decade exodus of the state's best and brightest residents.

In the next few weeks he will announce a"Come Home to West Virginia" spokesperson—the face of a new campaign to cast the state as a destination for families, entrepreneurs and young leaders. The larger initiative includes temporarily revamping the state slogan (out:"Wild and Wonderful"; in:"Open for Business!"), plowing money into state universities and pushing through tax breaks to encourage in-state filmmaking. Last year the state also launched a $5.5 million wave of splashy national advertisements—appearing on CNN Airport Network, the Golf Channel and in magazines like Fortune and BusinessWeek—touting the international companies that operate locally and flagging the state's economic health. (The unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country, and exports grew 41 percent last year, more than three times the national average.)


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