About WV Forward

West Virginia Forward Defined

West Virginia Forward is a collaboration among the West Virginia Department of Commerce, West Virginia University, and Marshall University to identify short-term, larger-scale projects that will boost West Virginia’s economic development efforts. The collaboration was supported by analysis from McKinsey & Company, which was focused on trending business sectors that could provide potential avenues for job growth and economic stability.

Data Collection

For the past several months, there have been working groups with staff from the West Virginia Department of Commerce, West Virginia University, and Marshall University, and McKinsey. In addition, we have met with state business experts, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Guard, Vision Shared, Imagine, the Business Roundtable, Tech Connect and Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation to ensure we are gaining feedback from all of the State’s partners.

Areas of Growth

While all possibilities are being considered, a few key opportunities include workforce, business climate, entrepreneurship and infrastructure. In the past, the State and other organizations have addressed specific areas of concern. However, this collaborative partnership aims to look at West Virginia’s assets from a global perspective and pair them with economic trends we can leverage for future growth. The report will be specific for West Virginia. It will be aspirational but realistic, and there will be no other report like it in the region. The state has phenomenal assets, such as energy and healthcare. But we need to know what business sectors are most likely to grow in the coming years and then determine if we have the right attributes to attract them here.

Why this is Important

The state is in a transition economy. Our communities are struggling while jobs have disappeared. Our talent has been forced to leave the state they love to pursue opportunity. We need to embrace all that West Virginia has to offer and believe that we can create a new path forward. It is not about rising from the bottom of a poll or stat. It’s about moving West Virginia Forward.

Next Steps

Our next steps include asking each stakeholder to undertake projects to implement these recommendations. With our partners West Virginia University and Marshall University we are in the final stages of executing a Memorandum of Understanding that formalizes the partnership through commitments from each, outlining specific actions and dedicating resources. Teams have been in preliminary discussions, and implementation meetings will start in September. We will be reaching out to experts across the state to work together as we move forward.

Cost to Taxpayers

Nothing. The research and report were paid for through the support of private donors and foundations.