Some machines are so big and have so many moving parts, they are nearly impossible to comprehend. The economy is one such machine. Whether you’re a traveler, a budding entrepreneur, or you’ve lived in a particular region all your life, it never hurts to have a better understanding of what drives a particular economy take a vacation to the area. Like most parts of the United States, West Virginia has a big economy. These are the things you should know before you visit.

If West Virginia were recognized as a country instead of a state, it would fit snugly in between Iraq and Croatia. In 2009 it’s GDP was appraised at $63.34 billion. While this is an enormous number on its own, it’s worth noting that this figure was provided in the short period following the beginning of the 2008 recession. West Virginia may be a small state, but its growth potential is speeding up: in fact, in 2014 it grew at a rate of 5.1 percent, the fastest in the U.S. just behind Wyoming, North Dakota and Texas.

A typical regional product manufacturer might focus on chemicals, biotech, and energy. Other popular industries include aerospace, healthcare, automotive, education, telecommunication, manufacturing, and many more. West Virginia is also home to a great variety of national treasures, including historic sites and natural geographical splendor. This has led to a booming tourism industry.

West Virginia prides itself on looking to the future, and exports energy that goes unused by state residents. 15 percent of the nation’s fossil fuel production comes from West Virginia, but that hasn’t stopped us from looking to cleaner energy alternatives. Natural gas is a growing industry. Wind energy has been growing since the first West Virginia wind turbines were constructed in 2002, and progress on harnessing hydroelectric energy is ongoing.

West Virginia is also proud to support the efforts of smaller local farmers over bigger commercial ventures. Most farms are family owned and operated. Because West Virginia is a mountainous region, farming livestock is preferable to maintaining crop yields year by year.

The terrain has also put up a roadblock for a lot of “too big to fail” banks that operate elsewhere in the United States. If you don’t live near Charleston, you either have to drive a good distance or choose something smaller.

About $4.27 billion of West Virginia’s economy is peeled away by tourism, which helps employ 44,400 of the state’s roughly 1.8 million people. The state has a lot to offer no matter what travelers are searching for, and the tourism industry continues to grow.

Economy of West Virginia