Introduction to Doddridge County, West Virginia
Although Doddridge County is not known for coal, glass factories were once the big employers for people in the area. When the glass factories moved out, people were left looking for jobs in a very dismal market. The major employers in the county are currently the government and the natural gas, construction, and service industries. There are also a few small restaurants, factories, schools and businesses that are available for people lucky enough to have a car to take them to work. The hilly terrain and lack of public transportation make Appalachia less than ideal for industries to take root. Because there are few employment opportunities, young people must either stay and hope for a job or move away from their home and family to a place where jobs are more available.
As mentioned above, much of the land in Appalachia began to be concentrated in the hands of absentee owners when coal was discovered in the late 1800s. This is still true today as the federal government and private companies, whose decision-making headquarters are located outside Appalachia and outside the control of the local population, own much of the land. In West Virginia, a study revealed that absentee corporate landowners paid 16% of the total property tax for the state, yet owned 50% of the land and 75% of mineral rights. This unequal distribution of wealth and power has led to inadequate tax revenues, which in turn affect schools, roads and the general economic development of the region.