POINT PLEASANT — One of West Virginia’s media moguls was the keynote speaker at the 70th Annual Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce Dinner.
Bray Cary spoke about what he felt has to happen to make West Virginia “great again” to a full house at Thursday’s dinner held at the First Church of God’s Christian community building.
In more recent years Cary, who lives in Charleston, assembled a group of predominately West Virginia investors who have acquired eight network television stations and a statewide business and leadership publication. West Virginia Media today locally owns and manages CBS affiliate WOWK-TV. The State Journal, the only statewide weekly business and leadership newspaper, also is a part of the West Virginia Media news network. Cary also serves as host for “Decision Makers,” a statewide public affairs television program that appears on Sundays on all eight West Virginia Media television stations.
Cary, a native of the Mountain State, said growing up in West Virginia is a great advantage because it allows you to learn to trust people.
“The values you get growing up in this state make people act the way you want them to, and that’s respectful and honest,” Cary said.
Then, Cary spoke about how to bring back those “sons and daughters” who left the state to pursue better opportunities elsewhere. Fixing the education system is one of those things that needs to happen, Cary explained.
“We’ve got to get our parents reconnected,” he said.
Another way to bring prosperity back is change, particularly when it comes to the role and function of state government, according to Cary. He said when he returned to West Virginia after being in North Carolina, he heard “status quo” so many times he thought that was the state’s new capital.
“Capitalism really does work and socialism doesn’t,” he told the audience. “We need our people to be healthy and when they are, our government will be healthy.”
Cary also said having a two-party political system, “an equal two-party system” was key to moving the state forward. He said for example, to solve the state budget debate, there needed to be a solution that was a two-party system solution.
“The input of all people really creates the best government,” he said.
He also said the state was in need of a governor who was willing to abandon that “status quo” and doing “business as usual.” Cary said it would take innovative thinking and solutions to move the state forward.
“The coal industry is not coming back…it breaks my heart to say it,” Cary said.
A place like Mason County, with its flat land and access to river and rail “should be, can be and will be, a great place to start” with job creation, Cary said.
Speaking of jobs, Cary addressed his own personal feelings on the contentious right-to-work issue.
“Facts are facts, states that are growing, without exception, are right-to-work states,” he said.
Cary also spoke about natural gas as a revenue and job generator for the state, saying West Virginia had an “endless supply” of it to power the state cheaply.
“We are on the verge of success,” he said. “We have a will to change and we know prosperity and opportunity are literally days, months away. Change is on its way to West Virginia.”
A second story on Thursday’s dinner will appear in Saturday’s Point Pleasant Register highlighting the presentation of awards.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.