This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A copy of the text of this speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library.
There is really only one basic issue in this state - one issue that underlies all the rest – one issue that leads to all the other issues of defense contracts, unemployment compensation, surplus food and others - and that one issue is jobs.
More jobs for West Virginia - that is our goal - more jobs for our depressed areas of long-term labor surplus and chronic unemployment. We have those areas in Massachusetts - they can be found in Pennsylvania and Kentucky and in many of the 50 states. But no state is in more urgent need of new jobs for its depressed areas than the State of West Virginia.
Stop-gap relief will help. Emergency feed programs will help. Unemployment compensation helps as long as it lasts. But in the long run the only thing that will give real help to our depressed areas is more jobs.
That means helping existing industries - pottery, glass and coal - regain their former payrolls and markets. For example, four of your ten vital glass plants are closed, and the other six are operating at much less than full capacity. These factories must be reopened. But they will never be reopened until we have an Administration in Washington which will not use the reciprocal trade laws as a device to harm small business, and protect big industry.
But – although helping existing industry is important - we must also bring in new industry to create new jobs. A new industry in the community means new income and new hope - and that is why any Area Redevelopment Bill - any bill designed to help depressed areas - must be aimed at stimulating economic development - new industries and new jobs in hard-hit areas.
Our nation’s economy is growing. New industries are springing up all the time. Old industries are expanding with new plants. All West Virginia asks for is an equal share of this expansion. This state does not need runaway shops or fly-by-night operators. It does not want to take business away from any other state. It does not ask for special treatment. All it asks is a fair share of the new plants and industries which are springing up all over America - often being located in areas that do not have the facilities for them.
The Federal Government has an important responsibility in this matter - to make sure that no state suffers unfairly - to make sure that our depressed areas have the new industry and the expanded economy they need to get back on their feet.
A Democratic Congress has just acted to meet this responsibility. On Friday we passed a depressed areas bill - a bill which can bring new jobs, new industry and new hope to Clarksburg, and our many other areas of unemployment. I flew to Washington last week to help in the fight to enact this vital legislation. That fight was successful – but the battle is far from over. For each time the Democrats have passed such a bill - every time it seemed as if help was on the way - Republican opposition and Republican vetoes have destroyed West Virginia’s hope for a prosperous future.
The first time that the Senate passed depressed areas legislation was in 1956 - when I had the task of serving as the bill’s floor leader - but this bill ultimately died under Republican attacks in the House. The bill again passed the Senate in 1958, and this time it also passed the House - but it was vetoed - vetoed without regard to the suffering and unemployment which fills America’s more than one hundred areas of heavy unemployment - vetoed by a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. And now - in 1960 - the Republican Administration is again threatening to veto this legislation - to frustrate the Democratic Party’s third attempt to bring help to West Virginia.
But I tell you that an Area Redevelopment Bill is going to become law. If not this year, a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress working together will pass an even better bill next year - a bill that really works - that really brings about area redevelopment in these communities - and that means a bill that brings more jobs and more industry to West Virginia. And that is why the people of West Virginia must vote for a man who has a real chance to go to the White House - who will be able to approve this legislation which you so desperately need.
To attract new industry in this day and age, a city must have adequate water, streets, schools and other community facilities. This bill will help build them.
To attract new industry these days, a supply of unemployed workers is not enough - they must be retrained in the new skills a new industry will be looking for. This bill will help retrain them.
To attract new industry these days requires market surveys and economic studies, credit facilities and modern plants. This bill helps make all these features available to a depressed area.
I really think this bill will work. It doesn’t do it all - it doesn’t answer every problem. But it will help - it will help bring in new plants and new employment opportunities to Clarksburg and the rest of West Virginia. So let us get on with the job of electing a Democratic President - so that renewed prosperity for West Virginia can become a reality.