WV Forward is helping to oversee the economic transformation of the state. Voluntary experts are working in concert with steering committee members, the WV Forward implementation team and research scholars. Their role is to help shape inclusive partnerships, short-term and long-term objectives and action plans while aligning efforts to achieve data-driven results based on McKinsey & Company’s proposed recommendations. Volunteers may offer their time and expertise in phases of this work. This process is new and evolutionary. As progress is made, status updates will be provided.
JOB GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES
Growth and diversification require a business-friendly climate. We can achieve this through competition and strategic business investments. Strengthening workforce participation, building and diversifying the talent pipeline and adding value to West Virginia’s assets will help create economic opportunities in the region.
Creating a Site Readiness Program
GOAL: To develop a program that ensures West Virginia properties or business sites are ready for investment and economic development.
PROCESS: This working group is creating a program called WV Ready, which will develop a process to identify and review potential development sites in West Virginia and provide standards for levels of site readiness to attract potential investors. This program will allow West Virginia to better compete for economic development projects at the national level by having an increased number of shovel-ready sites for investment.
Resolving Tangible Personal Property Tax
GOAL: To help find a balanced solution to improve the business climate while ensuring local governments’ and schools’ revenue are protected by proposing possible changes to the tangible personal property (TPP) tax.
PROCESS: This working group will engage with lawmakers, business owners, research experts and community members to better understand and identify long-term solutions. By addressing this issue, we can improve the business climate and perception of the state to outside investors.
Maintaining Competitive Industrial Electricity Rates
GOAL: To maintain West Virginia’s industrial electricity rates, which, historically, have been a top competitive advantage for the state to incentivize business growth.
PROCESS: This working group will investigate the complex causes for rising industrial electricity rates in West Virginia and compare rates in neighboring states. As the group considers the significance of electricity cost trends, the group will consult a diverse group of stakeholders, including industry, government, consumer advocates, end-users and energy supply researchers. The group will develop short-term and long-term strategies to help the state maintain and improve a business-friendly environment, specifically in terms of the cost of doing business in the manufacturing and economic growth sectors.
A diverse economy and a dynamic talent pipeline rely on a strong educational system and vocational training. To better prepare today’s students and tomorrow’s talent to be citizens of a global economy, it is critical to invest in public-private sector collaboration, STEM and humanities education and customized technical training. It is important to improve capacity and affordability at all educational levels while providing options for the future workforce to embrace flexible career opportunities with diverse skill sets.
Investing in P-20 Education
GOAL: To best prepare a dynamic talent pool, it is critical to invest in education at every level and in every discipline, from science, technology, engineering and math to language and humanities.
PROCESS: This working group will bring together policymakers, education experts, school board members, teachers and administrative officials to improve the state’s education system. Focus areas will include: Improving STEM disciplines and humanities in elementary and secondary education; advancing computer science education; emphasizing curriculum and programs that provide teaching and training for specific jobs; and expanding the state’s role in vocational training by identifying priority occupations and promoting these opportunities to students.
Growing the Cybersecurity and IT Sectors
GOAL: To maximize the economic development potential in West Virginia’s cybersecurity, coding and IT services sectors.
PROCESS: This working group will help identify education and training opportunities along with ways to secure more jobs that progressively grow a cybersecurity network along with additional coding and IT services across the state. By convening partnerships among local communities, academic institutions and established companies, the group will help leverage opportunities that foster entrepreneurship, encourage the growth of startups, invest in sector talent and enable an innovative environment that is ripe for short-term development and long-term investments.
Advancing Higher Education
GOAL: To advance training and educational opportunities that improve how students, particularly nontraditional or first-generation students and veterans, can access the best lifelong learning programs to prepare them for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
PROCESS: This working group will help collaborate efforts among higher education institutions and the private sector to improve capacity and affordability, and provide stackable degree and certification options that work for a wide variety of learners. Work is already underway to offer innovative, accessible opportunities for West Virginians.
Investing in our people can improve productivity, while innovative solutions can help solve West Virginia’s local and regional difficulties. Indeed, some of West Virginia’s greatest challenges can become its greatest opportunities. By redefining West Virginia’s narrative, inspiring engagement in communities across the state, strategically leveraging valuable assets and taking a holistic approach to grappling with some of West Virginia’s ongoing issues, West Virginia Forward will help revitalize communities statewide.
Showcasing the Best of West Virginia
GOAL: To develop innovative ways to showcase West Virginia’s greatest assets.
PROCESS: This working group will be divided into subgroups that will focus on tourism promotion and attracting untapped populations to the state; identifying and engaging in community development opportunities that will help rebuild areas across the state; and assisting ongoing efforts that encourage small business development and service learning projects.
Investing in Innovation and Business Growth
GOAL: To evaluate ways to enhance the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to support business creation activities and catalyze additional investment in the state’s growing innovation economy.
PROCESS: This working group will engage key stakeholders, such as entrepreneurs, nonprofit entrepreneurial support groups, university programs, private sector investors and consultants to explore ways to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem across West Virginia.
Fighting Substance Abuse and the Opioid Epidemic
GOAL: To help fight substance abuse and curb the national opioid epidemic by particularly focusing on how best to recover from economic ramifications of this devastating crisis. While West Virginia Forward partners cannot solve this epidemic alone, nor overnight, collaborative efforts are underway to take the lead in looking at this crisis from all angles, using a comprehensive approach to find solutions.
PROCESS: This working group, which will have multiple tracks, will help identify evidence-based actions for prevention and treatment of addiction and workforce re-entry programs. The group will consider effective measures to help curb addiction and improve treatment, find gaps in research or evidence, or reveal social norms and bias that may hinder progress.