[Charleston, WV], Nov.
21- West Virginia has a strong business environment for construction contractors, according to state rankings released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). "Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard" reviews and ranks state-specific information significant to the success of the commercial and industrial construction industry.  

The scorecard website, meritshopscorecard.org, identifies states, such as West Virginia that have created an environment where merit-shop contractors are well positioned to succeed and states where strategic improvements need to be made in order to achieve that.

The Merit Shop Scorecard grades states on their policies on project labor agreement (PLA) and prevailing wage mandates and Right-to-Work status as well as their construction job growth rate, commitment to developing a well-trained workforce, career and technical education opportunities and results, and use of public-private partnerships. Also included is state data related to union membership, prompt-pay laws, business-specific tax and spending figures and safety information. Due to recently passed reforms in the Mountain State, West Virginia has jumped sixteen spots in the overall state rankings from the initial merit shop scorecard which was first published in late 2015.  

"West Virginia policymakers have built a free enterprise-based business environment that allows merit shop construction contractors to grow while also protecting taxpayers from inflated costs," said ABCWV President, Bryan Hoylman. "Associated Builders and Contractors applauds West Virginia for banning anti-competitive and restrictive project labor agreements and inflated prevailing-wage mandates while supporting Right-to-Work. These policies will help promote economic growth, which leads to more jobsites and more West Virginia construction jobs." 

The merit shop philosophy is the belief that people and companies succeed based on free enterprise principles within the free market system, which is characterized by open and fair competition and diverse participants. Those who adhere to the philosophy believe employees and employers have the right to determine wages and working conditions through either individual or collective bargaining, as they choose, within the boundaries of the law. They oppose violence, coercion, intimidation and the denial of the rights of employees and employers. Furthermore, they believe it is incumbent upon all branches of government to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and that government should award contracts based solely on merit to the lowest responsible bidder, regardless of
labor affiliation.  

The Merit Shop Scorecard was developed with input from ABC chapters and industry stakeholders across the country. Criteria and definitions are available on meritshopscorecard.org. The scorecard will be updated with exclusive state construction unemployment rate estimates from economist Bernard Markstein, Ph.D.