Governors Implement: On The Road To Infrastructure In West Virginia

On Wednesday, February 28, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice assembled members of his cabinet and key state, local, and federal officials for a day-long meeting on infrastructure investment in West Virginia. 

The Governor’s Infrastructure Funding Summit was led by Gehan Elsayed, Chief Engineer of Planning and Program Implementation at the West Virginia Department of Transportation and Governor’s Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator.

In kicking off the event, Ann Urling, Senior Advisor to the Governor, urged participants to “pull the rope together” to ensure the best outcomes for West Virginia on federal discretionary grant applications, interagency collaboration and coordination, and conveying a message of positive impact to local communities. Mitch Carmichael, Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, gave a rousing presentation on Winning in West Virginia. Secretary Carmichael noted several key metrics contributing to the success of infrastructure and economic development investments in the state, most notably the dedicated and loyal workforce in the state and the $9.5 billion in private business investment over the last two years.

Governor Justice doubled down on the skill, tenacity, and dedication of West Virginia’s workforce, communities, and public servants assembled in the room. The Governor reflected on record investments in infrastructure that began well before the large federal packages being discussed, beginning with $1.4 billion in state investments in 2017, which ballooned to $5.1 billion in 2020 – before IIJA passed – to $13.4 billion at the beginning of 2024. With so many of his senior leadership focused on the success of these investments, the Governor was confident that “nothing is going to stop us unless we get in our own way” – a sure way to encourage everyone on the team to pull together.

Next, the discussion turned toward West Virginia’s efforts in Washington, D.C., where Melissa Decker, Director of the Governor’s Washington Office, shared tools and tactics for success in the nation’s capital. NGA’s Tom Curtin emphasized the importance of the “D.C. ground game,” crediting the Elsayed-Decker duo with a successful state-up, state-out approach to implementing key federal packages. Next, Brian Anderson, Executive Director of the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plan Communities and Economic Revitalization spoke about federal resources and the opportunities to “bring the private sector to bear by taking advantage of tax credits in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).” Kayleigh Kyle, Supervisory Community Liaison for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Partners Network (RPN), then talked about the on-the-ground community work RPN is doing with local government and community leaders.

To round out the day, Senior Advisor Urling and Infrastructure Coordinator Elsayed led conversations on regional project development and how agencies are working together to prioritize IIJA investments. Ms. Urling spoke with economic and community development leaders on the importance of regional collaboration, an element of the “West Virginia style” the Governor highlighted earlier in the day. And Ms. Elsayed led discussions with leaders from the WV Department of Tourism, WV Energy Office, and Workforce Resiliency on how their work is contributing to West Virginia’s overall infrastructure investment efforts.

Infrastructure was clearly top of mind in West Virginia that day, as Governor Justice also announced, in a briefing, a significant upgrade to the West Virginia Infrastructure Hub website, with a newly-launched Investment Dashboard that allows users to explore infrastructure projects across the state that have already received funding. The West Virginia Infrastructure Hub is designed to efficiently distribute IIJA funds throughout the Mountain State. The website aims to ensure that the historic investment in infrastructure is distributed to where it is needed most.

NGA congratulates the West Virginia team on the launch of the Investment Dashboard and a successful infrastructure summit. To follow NGA’s ongoing activities and support for infrastructure implementation, please visit: