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WV Forward Work

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.

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Job growth opportunities 

Job growth in West Virginia hinges on pursuing opportunities that add value to existing assets, invest in innovation and startups, support tax incentives and maximize economic development potential. WV Forward is working with stakeholders statewide to leverage these opportunities while diversifying industry sectors ripe for growth.

Growing the Cybersecurity and IT Sectors

Opportunities are abundant to maximize job growth in the cyber, coding and IT-related sectors. Through partnerships and research, efforts are underway to yield policy recommendations and tailored products that aim to 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.

Growing the Cybersecurity and IT Sectors

Investing in innovation and business growth

Investing in innovation and business growth are key components identified in the Forward blueprint to advance the state's long-term prosperity. Stakeholders are collaborating with WV Forward to enhance the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem, engage local leaders to take advantage of national trends like Opportunity Zones and catalyze additional investment in the state's growing innovation economy.

Investing in innovation and business growth

Promoting WV tourism and livability

Promoting West Virginia's travel and tourism industry boosts local economies and community development while advancing overall economic prosperity. Aligning the WV Tourism Office’s goals with blueprint recommendations, collaboration efforts include targeting ways to increase the number of new visitors while extending the average length of stay and average spend per visitor. In addition, leveraging West Virginia’s valuable people and assets to promote untapped populations such as second home owners and retirees can improve West Virginia’s livability and bolster local economies.

Promoting WV tourism and livability

Creating an inventory of sites ready for development

Data shows development-ready sites remain a top way to land new businesses. With the goal of moving at the speed of business, WV Forward and partners are working to develop viable, multi-phase plans to identify and evaluate properties to create an inventory of industrial sites ready for development. By having a ready catalogue of developable land, West Virginia can compete for future business prospects and offer expansion opportunities for established businesses.

Creating an inventory of sites ready for development

Resolving tangible personal property tax

West Virginia’s outlier status in taxing business inventory as part of tangible personal property has been pinpointed in the WV Forward blueprint as a disadvantage to competing for business investments. West Virginia also taxes business machinery and equipment while a neighboring and other competing states have managed to eliminate this tax. WV Forward, government officials, and stakeholders are exploring options for a balanced solution that will improve West Virginia’s business climate and perception of the state by outside investors while valuing the revenues of counties, schools and municipalities, which could be affected by a potential tax policy reform.

Resolving tangible personal property tax

Examining the competitiveness of industrial electricity rates

West Virginia’s competitive industrial electricity rates have historically been a significant factor in retaining current businesses and attracting new ones. As recent trends show a decline in competitiveness, WV Forward partners are engaging experts and stakeholders to facilitate an informative, data-driven analysis of potential actions to ensure West Virginia maintains a competitive advantage in the future.

Examining the competitiveness of industrial electricity rates

lifelong learning

Lifelong learning begins at the earliest of ages and endures through all educational levels, continued professional development and training. To prepare the most dynamic talent pool for today and tomorrow, West Virginia must invest in educational opportunities and training programs that allow West Virginians to learn and evolve throughout their chosen career paths/professions/life's work. It is critical to also meet people where they are, ensuring accessible, compatible schools and programs are available in regions across the state.

Increasing Education Training and Job-Skill Matchup

West Virginia employers and policymakers want to know what effective measures can be taken to bring more talent and more individuals into the labor pool and raise workforce productivity. Increasing education training and job-skill matchup will help connect people to jobs and jobs to people. By investing in West Virginians and attracting new talent, West Virginia can continue to build a prepared workforce with the right skills, knowledge, resiliency and adeptness to fill and grow high-demand jobs in an ever-evolving workforce landscape.

Increasing Education Training and Job-Skill Matchup

Achieving Higher Education Attainment

State economic health is closely tied to the educational attainment of our workforce. West Virginia’s education levels do not measure well with peer states. A robust economy requires West Virginia to step up and take an active role to increase the education and training opportunities for West Virginia’s workforce.

Achieving Higher Education Attainment

Human cAPITAL

Investing in West Virginians and addressing local and regional challenges that uniquely face the state are identified as significant opportunities to advance higher workforce productivity, economic value and overall greater prosperity. By identifying the barriers and incentives impacting the workforce, fostering valuable assets and grappling with ongoing human capital challenges, workforce participation will begin to improve as the state develops a specialized workforce in sectors targeted for growth.

Enhancing talent, attraction and retention

The WV Forward blueprint’s three building blocks to construct a robust West Virginia workforce include strengthening and diversifying the future talent pipeline, improving the skillsets of the existing workforce and attracting new talent from outside the state. WV Forward and partners are beginning to unite and consolidate efforts that channel resources into coordinated efforts that drive workforce development while tackling human capital priorities.

Enhancing talent, attraction and retention

Combatting substance abuse and the opioid epidemic

Substance abuse and the opioid epidemic cost WV's economy an estimated $8.8 billion a year, including workforce losses of $322 million in lost productivity from overdose fatalities and $316 million in lost workers due to addiction. Working with leaders, employers, and experts statewide, WV Forward is helping to identify opportunities to coordinate and expand efforts and spot unmet needs.

Combatting substance abuse and the opioid epidemic

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*Citations available upon request.