Jessica Lilly Published

Community Development Leaders Hosting Conference On Jobs, New Solutions For Southern W.Va. Workforce

New college graduates will likely have job interviews over video conferencing programs like Zoom or Skype, a trend experts say may continue even after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Coal consumption in the country has been declining since its peak in 2007 and this hurt the economy in Southern West Virginia. The Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia is planning a virtual meeting on Thursday, April 29 to brainstorm future ideas to energize the workforce.

The conversation began last fall at the Small Communities Big Solutions conference. This new event continues the dialogue, said Sara Payne Scarbro operations chair of the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia.

Scarbro says small West Virginia communities will be represented throughout the discussion.

“Our speakers will convey examples of you know, a nursing entrepreneur in Southern West Virginia and how she started her own practice, and how rural main street development impacts directly the workforce pipeline,” Scarbro said. “So I think that you’ll hear about small communities throughout the conference.”

Scarbro hopes speakers will nail down a specific plan by the end of the meeting.

“That is our hope,” Scarbro said, “to really start drilling down to develop some items to look at moving forward and maybe some subgroups to take on certain priorities.

“As a lifelong West Virginia, I love my state,” Scarbro said. “I know so many West Virginians love West Virginia, too. And I think it’s opportunities like this that allow us to come together to share those shared experiences. We’ve had so many challenges given COVID pandemic and what that has brought to not only West Virginia, but for the nation as a whole when you look at workforce, and so I think that this conversation will be productive and enlightening and educational, and I hope that people can learn, but also make new connections.”

The Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, along with Coalfield Development and the West Virginia Community Development Hub will join to host the Small Communities, BIG Solutions workforce development quarterly meeting Thursday. The virtual session will run from 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

The meeting is open to all West Virginians. Organizers request participants register for the event.