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About Us

West Virginia Forward

Uncovering the best solutions for one, united West Virginia. 

A blueprint with a host of recommendations and ideas to advance West Virginia’s economic future, West Virginia Forward began as an unprecedented collaboration between West Virginia University, the West Virginia Department of Commerce and Marshall University. Over time, this partnership has developed into a larger, statewide effort to identify West Virginia's unique assets and pair them with economic trends that will leverage growth and development opportunities to strengthen and diversify all regions of the state. 

With a sharp focus on short-term and long-term objectives, and a refined vision, the partners are working alongside key stakeholders and experts across West Virginia and beyond. So far, innovative solutions and opportunities include advancing West Virginia’s workforce, business climate, educational opportunities, community development, energy sector, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship and infrastructure.

Guiding Principles

West Virginia Forward is guided by these goals:

  • Building on existing assets.

What can we enhance to compete more effectively? This includes addressing human capital, infrastructure, innovation and West Virginia’s business climate

  • Growing and diversifying into new sectors.

How can we grow our state more rapidly, and what industries have projected growth?

  • Discovering disruptive trends.

We are looking for trends that, according to Forbes, “displace an existing market, industry, or technology and produce something new and more efficient and worthwhile.” Where can we find market-changing innovations?

  • Considering our regional impact.

What priorities will have the greatest influence on our region?

  • Finding quick wins.

What can we do now to produce the greatest gains within the next year?

West Virginia Forward's Importance

West Virginia continues to face a challenged economy with regional struggles. We need to find new career opportunities where jobs have disappeared. We need to retain talent in the midst of employees leaving the state they love to pursue opportunity. We need to embrace all the opportunities 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 optimizing success by building on the assets we already have, identifying new sectors for growth, finding disruptive trends, considering our regional impact and finding quick wins. It’s about moving West Virginia Forward.

Cost to taxpayers

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

Stay Informed

If you would like to receive updates on West Virginia Forward, volunteer or have an idea, you can email

To learn more about West Virginia Forward, visit the Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

Steering Committee Leads the Charge

Steering Committee Members

In addition to the collaborative efforts between West Virginia University, the Department of Commerce and Marshall University, West Virginia Forward's Steering Committee is tasked at setting overall direction, prioritizing initiatives and directing stakeholder outreach. 

The Steering Committee is made up of one representative nominated from each partner organization, as well as two jointly-appointed members at large, who were engaged early in the process and have dedicated time and resources to West Virginia’s economic development. The Steering Committee members were chosen for their range of experience, their passion and their insights into our state, the economy and innovative ways for us to move West Virginia Forward. They will help guide and support our work as we pivot to implementing solutions. 

Read more about West Virginia Forward's Steering Committee members.

Steering Committee members:

  • Marty Becker, BrickStreet Insurance
  • Patrick Farrell, Savage Grant, Service Pump and Supply
  • Pat Getty, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation 
  • Jennifer Giovannitti, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
  • Jim Pennington, The Health Plan