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July 29, 2010
WHITE SULPHUR SRPINGS, WEST VIRGINIA
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: Let me first of all thank you you all. I wanted to tell you what this means to West Virginia. I think that if you've been watching anything on television and any national news or the golfing station last night, when I get ready to turn in last night I turned it on, and I couldn't believe the special about all of West Virginia and all that we have to offer with this venue. But basically, what we take for granted every day, there are people around the country seeing for the first time.
I spoke to some of represents of the PGA Tour, and they were telling me the families that have came to this venue could never believe what they had for their families. They're taking advantage of everything from the pool to all the things that they would only dream that they could being involved with.
And now they're all planning about next year. To see the first day of the official opening of the TOUR and the families and the golf professionals are talking about we can't wait until next year because we're gonna really tell the rest of the families and bring the rest of out families with us and tell the rest of the golfers who missed out on this.
So I can only tell you that I think it'll probably be the premier event in the country, rivalling anything you've seen from Pebble Beach on down.
With that being said, it's just because of Jim Justice, the Greenbrier, employees of the Greenbrier, and the people in West Virginia. So for those of you if it's your first time, I hope you're enjoying it. I hope you would spread the word, if you will, for us.
Tourism is a tremendous part of our economy. This is the largest employer in Greenbrier County, the Greenbrier. It employees more people and feeds for families, if you will, than anything else we do in this area. So these people know generation from generation how to take care of people. They know their livelihoods and their future depends on it.
So when you come, you're gonna be treated like never before anywhere else you might have been, and I think that makes it such a special place. And, of course, the history of the Greenbrier makes it even that much more special.
So with all that, I just think there's so much that we have to offer. I think this venue is gonna be something that by the weekend we're gonna have the whole world tuned in watching what we're doing and how we're doing it. They're all making predictions of what the scores will do. I've heard everyone say anywhere from 18- to 20-under probably will be where you have to be to be competitive to have a chance of winning.
We'll just see what the course has it offer. Be a little bit of rain today. It will soften up a little bit. Makes it a little bit more challenging, if you will, or better for the golfers. I think everyone is enjoying it right now. People are teeing off all day long. Field of 144, I believe. Is that the field, 144? Is it 156 right now? They'll start whittling that down, I'm sure.
Again, as you saw, I awarded Jim this morning, I gave him The Distinguished West Virginian Award. That is the highest honor I can bestow upon a native West Virginian, and that's somebody that goes beyond the call of duty, that does something extraordinary, and Jim has done everything plus. More than you could ever imagine.
He's a special person. I've known Jim probably for over 30 years. When Jim bought the Greenbrier, I didn't know he was out shopping for the Greenbrier. At the time we were working with Marriott thinking the Marriott was doing their due diligence and probably would have closed on it. They called my one night and said, We've sold it. I was excited, because we've been work on this for a long time.
And then he said, Jim bought it. I said, Jim? He says, Yeah, Jim Justice. Just one of those things. That's the way Jim does things. He flew under the radar screen, he bought it, and has never looked back since.
He did in 14 months what I don't think people could have done in five or ten years. Four weeks ago, Jim and I were talking about the course. He wasn't happy about how things were going. He changed his total management team in the middle, four and a half weeks ago, to get it done with his own people the way he wanted to do it.
So you're talking about somebody that's been hands-on all his life. That's why you're seeing how that casino could've been done, and the beauty of that to where it does not interfere at all. It does not protrude anywhere in the ambience or the grandeur of the Greenbrier. It's just an added venue. If you would like, you're more than welcome.
If you don't and you like what you had before, you'll never know it's there. Everything he's done has been so high quality and tasteful. So I think this is the resort now for everybody in all seasons, which is what we tried to do.
So we're very proud to have Jim, our homegrown West Virginian who grew up coming here with his father and it was always a special place. He's played in the amateur before when he was -- Jim is a tremendous golfer, if you didn't know that. He grew up golfing and he competed and was very, very good.
So this has been a dream of his, his family. You think of the amount of money that he's invested that he could have gone anywhere in the world and done anything that he wanted to do after he sold one of his companies, to spend it all right in West Virginia was pretty special.
So for that, that warranted that he be a Distinguished West Virginian. I wanted to make sure that got done today, and we did that this morning at 9:00.
So with that, if anyone has any questions on what we're doing or how we're doing it.
Q. (Question regarding the economic impact.)
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: No one's put a dollar figure on the economic impact. The reason we haven't put a dollar on it, we don't think we can put a dollar figure on it. When you figure about economic impact, in 2008, the impact of tourism just in Greenbrier County was $214 million; 2,500 jobs depended on it.
Now, this was in 2008 when we were very doubtful that we would even have the Greenbrier or not. So if you want to put any figure to that, I would say, my goodness, the sky would be the limit on this. My estimates, they will improve anywhere from 25% to 50% what we've done in the whole year, this one event in this area.
But it has a rippling effect around many, many counties , not just Greenbrier County. If you look around, whether it be down in the Roanoke area, whether it be up in in Fayette County, West Virginia, it's all over. So everybody is benefitting from this. Raleigh County, hotels. People coming from all over the country. They're eating and staying and spending money.
I've spoke to everyone driving in and to everyone that works here. You know, we were down to about 700 employees just a year and a half ago and were doubtful if we were gonna hold on. Now we're over, I think, 1,800 employees here at the Greenbrier, and still growing. So that's unbelievable.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the award again. People know about Jim Justice since he bought the Greenbrier, but it was probably more of a lifetime achievement award.
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: The Distinguished West Virginian Award is not just for one event, not just for one thing you do. Jim has given back his whole life. We go to a little community in McDowell County once a year. Jim is Santa Claus and has been for a lot of people for many, many years. The whole Christmas is around Jim Justice going to that little community. I won't name names.
He goes to that community and he takes care of everybody in that community. They walk out with food; they walk out with toys for their children; they walk out with Christmas. People don't see that about Jim Justice. I've been working on those missions, and it's unbelievable.
He doesn't have to do it. He's had challenging times in the natural resource industry, but he's never failed one time, allowed a child to go without a Christmas that he's ever known about, or a community. You look at his passion for the sports teams, here's a man with all the things he has going on and still coaching because he loves the children.
Jim's as special person in West Virginia. We have a lot of the good, quality people, but Jim has really walked the walk. It's easy to talk it, but Jim's walked it.
Q. I think what I gathered from golfers out there on the course and just people in general, the friendliness of the state, and this really is an opportunity to continue to showcase that. I know that's something that you've always tried to instill and been very proud of.
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: If you look around the golf course and all the volunteers, all the volunteers are West Virginians. They volunteered and gave up their whole week. They've been here training. They can't wait to say, Thank you for coming to West Virginia at the beautiful Greenbrier. They assist you any way they can. They come from all different walks of life.
Jim will tell you, if it wasn't for the volunteers, you couldn't put an event like this on. I think that gives you a flavor for who we are.
Q. I remember driving up through West Virginia for the first time about this time last year to the World Golf Championship. Through Charleston, how beautiful it was and thinking, the Greenbrier is over those hills somewhere. Just happy to be here, and echo your comments. It's a wonderful place. Two questions: One, your knowledge of the game of golf. Are you a golfer? How did you come to the game? Do you play often? And two, from a golfer's perspective, you have a major coming up in about 96 days. What are your thoughts on that?
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: First of all, I'm a golf -- I grew up in a coal mine community, Farmington. We never had a golf course around. They built one as I was growing up, but I never played much golf growing up.
I went to college I went on football scholarship, and I was in a dorm. We had basketball players who were on the golf team, so they really got me started as a freshman in college and took me out about every day. I really got into it and enjoyed it very much.
But since with my family and starting working, I never had much time to play. I enjoy it and I get out a few times a year. It's always a special time. I think there's nothing like a golf course with the nature and scenery. All of 'em are beautiful. If you have the right group of people playing, it really makes it that much more enjoyable. So I still look forward to that.
I'd rather play a scramble than I would a one-on-one, because I can always blame somebody else for a bad shot. (Laughing.) But I do enjoy it. We have a good time. I played with Jim. I played a round here. But I time he got done harassing me, I thought, Well, I'm not gonna do that again with him. He'll talk all the way through the course. He'll talk through your shots. He'll talk through the course. He's always thinking something else has to be done.
So I am not what you would called a real dedicated, serious golfer, but I'm one who loves the game and the people in the game. And the PGA Tour, I've met from Mr. Finchem all the way down. Charlie Zink has been a dear friend of mine. David Pillsbury, Rick George, Bill Calfee. All of 'em I've met and we've become really good friends. That's sparked my interest even more, watching the commitment and dedication they put to making this Tour so special.
And then the Pete Dye Classic, we had that for a few years. The State was very involved in that, and that did very well. And now my daughter's firm, which is Mylan Pharmaceutical is sponsoring that, and they moved it up into the Pittsburgh area this year.
So they have a major sponsor right now, and I'm proud of that. So she's stayed involved, and our family's been involved. But this is a special place. I think you all know also right down the road is the first golf course in America. Have you had a chance to go down and see it? You need to go see that. It's pretty special.
Q. I don't know if you heard about Jim's practice round with John Daly yesterday, but I think he probably signed about five times more autographs than John, which is a rarity when John is out on the tour. He seems like a local hero around here. Who's more popular then, you or him? Do you think he has a future as governor?
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: He would be an excellent governor. It would be a fun place with Jim. I've always said that. I don't know what Jim's ambitions are. He's got his plate full right now. Jim in any setting is gonna do well. Jim wants to fix things, make things. And the job as governor or any of these jobs, you got to want to do things. If you're going just for the title -- Jim doesn't want to be known as the owner of the Greenbrier. He wants the Greenbrier to do what it needs to do to help our state and to help the people. He's more proud of the people having jobs and security than saying, Oh, Jim Justice. He owns the Greenbrier. Doesn't mean anything to him.
I've always said this: when people get enamored with their titles, you have a problem sooner or late. Yeah, glad I'm not running against him. Or he's running against me, one of the two. We're on the same side.
Q. How deep is your relationship with the PGA Tour? When did you start knowing Charlie Zink and those people?
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: You know, within the last, oh -- how you got involved with all of 'em was at the Gator Bowl back 2000, 2001. The PGA Tour were out of TPC down at Sawgrass. Andy Pradella become a good friend. Rick Catlett is the director of the Gator Bowl; Andy Pradella became a very good friend of mine, who is one of the directors. Rick is the CEO. They're very close to Charlie.
Things just started meshing. We all became friends maybe ten years ago or so. It just developed like I've known 'em all my life. They come up; we do down. They're just wonderful, wonderful people. They still haven't been able to teach me to play very good golf. You would think by now maybe, huh, something would rub off.
Q. There's one aspect of this that I have never understood. Maybe you can explain it to me. It's the process by which they ended up getting a casino here.
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: Well, basically when the laws were passed -- I'm thinking 10, 15 years ago, which is lottery and -- we had four racetracks. Legislature was passing laws at the time in order to have legalized gaming at the racetracks to support the horse and the dog tracks.
Then they said, Well, we've got a couple historical venues. So at that time, the bill was drafted to have -- it had an element to where if it was a historical place with so many rooms, on and on and on, and if it was a local referendum. That means the people in the local county had to vote to want it.
Well, they defeated it twice in this county. The people did not want any gaming in the county or at the Greenbrier. When they really had hit their low -- so that was in the law. That was always in the code when they passed it many years ago. Nothing had ever happened because it had been voted down twice. CSX, when they were the owners, tried to get a referendum passed; the voters rejected it.
Two years ago when we were in trouble here and we weren't sure what the outcome would be, I was very much involved with CSX. I begged them. They give us one year to find an owner. That's basically what we had is a year. I was very appreciative of that. They were very kind. They said, Joe, if you can find an owner, qualified, we'll work with you.
I'm thinking if worse comes to worse, the State is gonna have to do something here, because we just couldn't let the Greenbrier close under any conditions. That was our mentality. At that time, I met with the all of the unions and all of the people involved here that were trying to save and fight for their jobs, and they really came to the table.
I told 'em, I said, There are a couple options you have. You have to be able to bring new revenue in. And in order to do that, if you want to make the place attractive so we can attract somebody that will want to make an investment.
So I started calling around the country different people who run these types of worldwide resorts from Donald Trump all the way to Mr. Marriott, J.W. Marriott. We got J.W. Marriott involved, and they really were interested. Whether they were looking at the gaming issue or not, I knew it would be very attractive if they had that license.
So the union, every one of the people that work here, took it upon themselves to pass that referendum. So really the people had the fate in their own hands and took it upon 'em. There wasn't an organized campaign or anybody from State or organized level, except the people said that we have to have that in order to try to keep this place open and we can have our jobs. They got that passed.
I had to go back and introduce a piece of legislation that kind of tailored, revamped that. As you know, you have to be either staying here as guest or you have to be here for an event before you can go in the gaming. It had to be designed so it wouldn't be part of the historical Greenbrier. So you aren't gonna walk in the main lobby and see slot machines. Nobody wanted that.
I don't know if all of you have had a chance to go and look at it. You don't know it's there unless you want to go find it. It doesn't take away from anything that this Greenbrier has always stood for for over 200 years. That was the purpose of how we built it.
But let me tell you the most unique process that we have here. You know, we were concerned about the benefits and retirement, because as you know, markets are very volatile right now. A lot of people have lost their retirement and benefit packages. There is a certain part of legislation in our dog and horse tracks that basically allows a certain percentage to go to the dog owners and breeders and the horse owners and the breeders to keep perpetuating that.
Well, we don't have a dog or horse track at the Greenbrier. So I wrote in that bill, had that bill drafted, that we had the human aspect. It's probably the only one in the world. That we had a human resource account same as you have a horse account or a dog account. We have a people's account.
Basically the same percentage that they did in the dog tracks and horse tracks, we do here. It comes off every dollar that is wagered and at the end of year goes into an account where it helps subsidize the benefits and the retirement or our employees.
That made us much more competitive economically. So we did everything we could to sustain 1.500, 2,000 jobs. I think it's working. But we added that to our bill, which I don't think people know about. That's how it really came about.
Q. Can you talk about the senator race.
GOVERNOR MANCHIN: Let me just say first of all, my No. 1 job is being governor of the state of West Virginia. Every day I'm here, I work as hard as I can. We have a great state. Financially we're in very good shape. I don't know for those you outside of the State of West Virginia, we're paying our bills. We haven't cut any services and haven't laid anybody off. We're still reducing our business taxes to make it more attractive to be in West Virginia.
So we're still in a growth mode. We have money in the bank to pay our bills, and we're gonna get through this recession. That has been very difficult recession on a lot states, and us, too. But we've been able to adjust. In West Virginia we never got hit in the subprime market when it collapsed, because you know why? We still believe old fashioned, that you have to put a deposit down to buy something. That you should plan. That you should be involved. So we never get ourselves upside down, if you will, in transferring paper back and forth. We've done a lot of good things because of how we were raised and the culture of what we have here.
With that being said, we lost our most beloved senator, Senator Robert C Byrd, the longest serving senator in the history of the United States. No one has ever -- and I've said this: You can't replace Robert C. Byrd.
Myself or anybody else that's trying should understand that won't happen. You can't even fill his shoes. We hope to walk in his footsteps and follow where he led us, if you will.
With that, there was a couple of rulings. We had one by our Secretary of State who said there would not be a race until 2012 in the normal cycle. And then our attorney general gave the legal weight of it, if you will. He's the highest ranking legal official. He said that basically we'll have -- the 17th amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America says that you will replace your senator as quickly as possible.
So that's basically what we're into now. We went to the legislature; we codified it; we have an election coming up August the 28, which is a primary. There are three democrats, myself included, running in that primary. There's I think ten right now, ten qualified republicans who are running on the primary side.
There was an awful lot of debate in the legislature whether we should have a primary or a selection system. I've always believed, let the people vote. They'll make the best selections. That way it's open to everybody. There was discussion -- I don't think anybody would care and no one will be involved.
Well, we've proven that wrong. There are 13 people that are involved right now in this primary. I decided to get involved for many, many reasons. The most important is the economy of our state, the opportunity our state has, and what we have been able to offer to this nation.
First of all, you have to look at everything we have done. We're the most patriotic state in the nation on a per capita basis. We've got more people that have served and still today serve in the military than most anywhere in the United States.
Our National Guard is the No. 1 National Guard in the country. We've ranked that way for five years in a row. Our retention and recruitment is always above 100%. So we've proven who we are and the commitment we have to this country.
As far as economically, the energy that we have produced for this country over the last 100 years has made us the strongest, freest country in the world. We are dependable, reliable, and affordable, whether it be the coal or natural gas. Our timber industry from the Civil War on, we've basically built America off our timber. We fueled America from our natural gas to our coal industry. We make the steel. We've done it all.
So where we gonna go? There are a lot changes and talk going on in Washington about the climate, which we're very concerned about. The balance between the environment and the economy, I think it's something we're responsible. How we use our land, the stewards that we are and should be.
If you've been looking around as you drive through, you don't see a lot flat land, a lot of valleys. You see a lot hills and mountains. We've got to alter that to have anything, whether it's a building site for your home or a manufacturing site or anything. So there's a balance to be had.
In the past, I don't think we've done as well as we should have done. I think we could have done a lot better. I don't think that story is getting told in Washington. So for the economy of our state, the jobs that we need, and basically just getting back to what we do in America, we're the hope of the whole world.
Education attainment. I'm concerned about where we're going as a nation and state by state. We're gonna hit the rock, proverbial rock wall, if you will. 30% of our high school students are dropping out of school across the nation.
If you're 25 years of age or older in America, the way we're going in education right now, you will have attained more education that the generation coming behind you that's 25 or younger. First time in the United States of America that's ever happened.
Predictions are by 2050 to 2060 we will not be a world power, super power, if we don't change our education attainment rate. By 2018 we'll be eight million jobs short because we don't have the skill sets to fill those jobs. Those are real numbers and figures we've got to deal with it.
So with all of that and what's facing us, and health care and all the other things, it's just putting common sense back to Washington. So for that, I'm very interested in being part of that.
The state's financially in good shape. We've laid out a roadmap, and I feel very comfortable with the gentlemen that would be coming in behind me if I would be lucky and fortunate enough to be elected to fill the seat, West Virginia many seat that Robert C. Byrd held for 51 years.
The person coming behind me is a good steward. He understands. I've worked with him for many, many years. Earl Ray Tomblin; he's the president of the senate. So I feel that if I can help at the highest level, that would be the highest level I could help at right now.
Okay. Thank you.
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