West Virginia developments to make it a major red state destination

The state—especially its northeastern part—has a unique location as the closest deep red state to the Mid-Atlantic (and especially DC), and strong natural beauty and a decent/good climate. It bridges several regions, giving it cultural traits that could make a wide range of people feel at home there, and has both excellent outdoor activity opportunities and a rich history.

Yet the state has been losing population, and land prices remain generally very low, often still below their ~2005-7 peak. As politically motivated geographic sorting accelerates—with a second round of lockdowns and Covid-related mandates offering a particular impetus for many who have not yet left blue states to move—West Virginia has not been one of the prominent destination states (unlike Florida, Texas, and Idaho). Yet I think this could be changed.

One step could be building new real estate developments that attract early movers or trend-setters—especially those who would spearhead the sort of communities that help build desired services (aligned with our values) and draw a broader wave of aligned people to the state and to these communities/developments, rewarding the early movers and investors. Among these could be developments designed to attract people, or even groups of people moving together, looking for both a politically aligned home but also some immediate community of similarly-positioned people and drawn to a rural space where they can have significant land (an immediate draw vs already-popular destinations). Particular targets could be home schoolers (b/c schools—requiring larger scale to create—are not an impediment) and retirees, especially those moving from the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic who like the climate/geography and/or still have family, professional networks, or even some business in the area.

Through New Founding, we could help advertise these developments—in line with our broader red state thesis and promotion of a way of life compatible with what these could offer—and organize people for both their execution and early adoption.

I’d like to hear from anyone with insights, including experience with such developments or in West Virginia, and what it would take to pursue such projects at a meaningful scale.

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West Virginia has great potential. I’m suspicious of most real estate development as they tend to attract and produce leftist social behaviors.

Owning something outright encourages a more conservative outlook. We ought to encourage that, though how is not entirely clear.

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What kinds of industries can be dumped into West Virginia?

Consider, I think Alaska is a good place for data centers and server farms, given the cold climate and plentiful real-estate. The fact that the feds own the majority of the state makes land seem much more scarce than it is, which is a significant obstacle.

But what can be centered in West Virginia?

Anything that benefits from occasional access to DC. Unfortunately, most of these are fairly distasteful industries and corrupt those associated with them.

But the first opportunity is building communities for those who may want to remain associated with DC, but want a more wholesome place to raise their families. This can include people whose work isn’t directly associated with DC today but can work remotely, and may want to join a later GOP administration, and a WV residence would allow them to do this without uprooting their families.

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Anything digital. I remain stunned that tech, the most decentralized field in principle, is itself one of the most centralized viz employment. Now WV is offering $15k for remote workers to move there, which easily amounts to a downpayment in that state.

They need cheerleaders and promoters

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How’s that $15k incentive work? Very interesting.

It’s $12k paid largely over one year, and apparently there are other communities offering similar incentives: West Virginia Offers $12,000 To Remote Workers To Move There

I don’t think the results are in, but I’m keeping an eye on this. (Incidentally, I’m looking at property where virtually all zoning, even building, regulations have been cut to spur investment.)

Relatedly: A number of small startups offer a package of AirBnB stays in international locations and market it as a kind of work-vacation experience to the tech and tech-adjacent remote worker crowd. Young techies or entrepreneurs might spend a few months traveling and remote-working with a group; or some just stay in one place for a week or two, perhaps for a company retreat.

It’s interesting to consider something similar, but across small town America.

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That could be interesting way to market many new spots.

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I am quite partial to this idea, if for no other reason than it corresponds in part to my “NF roadshow” idea.

If a remote worker can capitalize on a program like this then we could send someone to stay in a place like West Virginia and have them scout, research, and network, with a decent percentage of the cost being subsidized.

For a young person with a passion, they could be tempted to take a year away from school to do something like this.

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There are many small towns across Appalachia that could be bought up and gentrified wholesale for a couple million bucks.

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No experience with development, but thought to add, as a current Marylander with family in the state, my husband and I are looking to move into West Virginia once I am retired. We are actually looking for land now. Our attraction is the seclusion WV offers, the outdoor activities, and most certainly, affordability.

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Welcome Janine.

I’ll say, if you do move (or if you have insights), do let us know. It is critical to maintain communication so that we can help value-aligned people find each other and build communities together.

The left is already on the move, trying to pick off small towns buy buying up desirable housing and then leveraging local politics to prevent others from building. It’s a kind of warfare and we need people like you to keep us informed as to the facts on the ground. Without you, we’re blind.

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I both grew up in West Virginia and worked there for a time. It has great potential for the reasons Nate mentions. Also, as a small state, younger people and new arrivals in the state can immediately make contacts and have access to the highest levels of influence/power. The state is aching for young people.

As far as industry and activities go, tourism, hunting/fishing/outdoors (but with a conservative bent), and small-scale farming/manufacturing would be terrific. The state has scars from industrial monoculture and the boom and bust of the energy industry, but there are still tons of free-thinking, intelligent people there who are looking for new industries and young energy. Building grassroots, independently owned businesses would be appealing to residents of a state whose motto is “Mountaineers are always free.”

Many small cities and towns with fading charm but tons of potential: Charleston, Shepherdstown, Lewisburg, Charles Town come to mind.

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