The future of economy—one that is centered around innovation and entrepreneurship. This is an equal opportunity economy built by individuals, small businesses, grass roots movements, and collaborative communities.
What attracts innovative and creative communities?
These 5 pillars support all of our strategies to accelerate the growth of the innovation economy in West Virginia. Each pillar is integral in building communities that encourage and implements new ideas.
Working how, where, when you want, growing you and your communities' ideas
Are entrepreneurs born, or made? We believe they spring from a culture that sees failure as a first draft, celebrates the process of discovery, encourages collaboration, and supports taking calculated risks. In the 21st century, entrepreneurship is becoming more and more important. Even if you don't own a business, to be to understand entrepreneurial concepts is to be a more effective, more mobile, and more innovative employee if not a business owner.
Create West Virginia not only celebrates tinkerers, makers, and dreamers, we support them by engaging them in pitches, connections with partners and resources, and educate potential entrepreneurs of all ages. We bring together the most energetic supporters of entrepreneurship in primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, and community and technical colleges. The steps to begin supporting yourself are unfamiliar to most, but there is a network in WV and outside full of people that want you to succeed. The Googles and GEs of yesterday weren't always behemoth companies. Supporting local business is investing in the future of our local economy. And today, we have access to international markets from just about anywhere. Our state in the beautiful mountains of Appalachia just as attractive as anywhere else to scale a business. Many say it doesn't get any easier for business in WV—carefully constructed ideas are often supported by our loving communities.
Fostering natural human curiosity, collaboration, and exposure to tools
It's a no-brainer. Unless you're uneducated of course. Higher level learning at earlier ages, access to tools and resources, and entrepreneurial lesson plans. The world today is much different than the one for which we built our school system. Now more than ever we need to be effective project managers, multi-taskers, creative thinkers, dreamers. We need to take chances, and learn to calculate those risks.
And we've lost appreciation for creative trades that is causing an imbalance in the workforce. Cooking, electrical engineering, plumbing, programming, woodworking, it's all important and builds better understanding for making products. The gap in blue collar and white collar work needs to close for communities to collaborate and innovate. And education should never cease in anyone's life. We promote lifelong learning through workshops, conferences, festivals, meetups, and online collaborative environments.
From educational opportunities for expectant parents, to pre-school, to continuous skill development through programs and community centers that serve as living labs, Create West Virginia is fostering a culture that embraces the joy of discovery through learning and collaborating.
Global connections and the power to move mountains from the keyboard
It's not just a rapidly growing industry, if you aren't looking at the most up to date technology in your sector, you are missing out on big opportunity. Technology allows us to work smarter not harder. We can reach more people, gather more data, automate, streamline. Chances are, if you don't believe technology can solve your problems, then you haven't learned enough to make technology work for you. When the light bulb lights up, your life will never be the same.
Every study of technology is equally as important and all are overlapping. Cyber-security is extremely important as we bring access to technology to more and more people. Financial technology has had many advances with the introduction of blockchain which is applicable in more ways than just currency. Robotics and electrical engineering allows you to use technology to directly interact with our physical world—the screen is not the limit. Data science empowers us with vast amounts of knowledge once thought unattainable, and machine learning breaks down huge barriers. Web development allows us to network devices, communicate, create efficient tools. Don't be a user, be a super user and dive into tech.
In terms of access to high speed internet, there is a lot of uncharted territory in West Virginia. The benefits of ensuring our map is covered with broadband speeds is incalculable. Recent legislation is making this a real possibility.
Connections to people of all races, genders, ages, and abilities
Keep a diverse portfolio. Isn't that what a good investor would tell you? That's why it's important to invest in diversity itself. That means people of different race and backgrounds, people of all different ages, people with different abilities, people with different genders and sexual orientation, people with different ideas and new perspective. These people must be connected and put into leadership for West Virginia to progress.
At the turn of the 20th century, West Virginia was one of the most ethnically diverse places in the United States. More than a hundred languages were spoken in various regions of the state, where African Americans flocked from the South to join immigrant Italians, Hungarians, and Jews to work in the coal fields. West Virginia's Northern Panhandle was the new home of thousands of Italians and Eastern Europeans who came to build steel mills. Flemish glass specialists jump-started the state's industrial glass industry. A burgeoning chemical industry in the mid-20th century brought innovators from around the world to the Kanawha Valley, where they created enormous wealth for such companies as Union Carbide, DuPont, FMC, and other industry giants. And Charleston was once home to the largest Lebanese population outside of Lebanon, who came, it is said, because the region reminded them on their mountainous homeland in Lebonon's fertile crescent.
These ethic groups and others still enrich the culture today, but we want more: more people who bring ideas that will reboot our towns, enliven the conversation, stimulate us to place ourselves among the most creative communities in the world. Gender, sexual orientation, philosophy, race, age, religion—we're working through all of it, keeping our cool.
Quality of Place
Environments communities desire. Arts, entertainment, and healthy living
What makes a community cool? A place where all kinds of people feel at ease, safe, stimulated to do their best work, where opportunities for creative play are as abundant as career opportunities? One, it's the people, and two, it's the place, as envisioned and created by the people. West Virginia has extravagant riches in outdoor recreation assets. Known in certain regions for world-class paddling and rafting on its whitewater rivers, it's also home to a world community of rock climbers, cavers, cyclists, bikers, and hikers. Rugged terrain that challenged early European settlers and discouraged wholesale industrial development now works in the favor of tech workers who want outdoor recreation accessible at the back door. And front door, for that matter. But can you get a latte? The answer is yes, in lots of places. In other places, we need latte makers. Do you happen to be one?