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WV Chamber of Commerce preparing to host one-of-a-kind business summit (WV News)

8/26/2019

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is preparing to host business leaders from around the state for their annual meeting and business summit.

Organizers say the event is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn and network with professionals from across the state and across the nation.

Brian Dayton, an official with the state chamber, said the event is the largest of its kind in the Mountain State.

“It’s a meeting that’s attended by business leaders, policy leaders and education leaders throughout West Virginia,” Dayton said. “It’s the largest such meeting that takes place in the state each year. We’re expecting a crowd of over 1,000 right now, but that could grow. It’s usually between 1,000 and 1,200. We’re very excited to get everyone down here. We have a lot of great speakers coming in.”

This year’s meeting will be held at The Greenbrier Resort from Tuesday Aug. 27 through Friday Aug. 30. The week is packed with different speakers and presentations.

“Each year, our goal is to build it bigger and better than it was the year before,” Dayton said. “It’s impressive because, once we open for registration, people just automatically start registering. That, to us, is a great sign that this has become a really great event and people look forward to it year after year.”

Some of the biggest names that will attend this year’s event are two Fox News regulars. Donna Brazile, a Fox News contributor and former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and Chris Stirewalt, a Fox News Digital Politics Editor, will have a discussion Thursday morning about the global view of how West Virginia fits into the world.

“They give an analysis of what’s going on at the federal level, what we can expect to see and how it’s going to relate to West Virginia. I’ve seen them do things together before, so I can’t wait. It’s going to be pretty exciting.”

Another big name coming to this year’s event is Tom Barkin, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. He will be discussing national monetary policy, which has a big impact on the state’s economy and all of the chamber’s members.

Dayton also said Gov. Jim Justice is expected to give opening remarks to the event. Hershel “Woody” Williams, a well-known WWII Medal of Honor Recipient and West Virginia native, will do the opening salute and the pledge of allegiance.

“If you’ve never met Woody, he’s absolutely incredible,” Dayton said. “He’s 95 or 96 and just in fantastic health. He travels around the country promoting Gold Star memorials.”

Republican legislative leaders will attend the summit Friday morning to discuss education reform in the state. The GOP just passed a landmark, comprehensive education omnibus bill that legalized charter schools and gave public school employees another percent raise, among other things.

Dayton said the chamber’s members employ more than half of the state’s workforce, and the importance of education continues to be one of the members’ top priorities.

“One of the biggest challenges to moving forward and creating more jobs that our members are telling us right now is — we have almost 20,000 job openings in West Virginia right now. Many of those are with our members,” Dayton said. “But what they’re saying is, it’s been a struggle to find people who can pass a drug test and have the skillset necessary. To us, education is all about making sure that the students of today are well prepared for the workforce of tomorrow.”

Dayton said each night, the event boasts evening receptions to allow attendees to mingle and get to know each other. As a tradition of the annual event, Thursday afternoon’s schedule will be largely left open to allow for a more in-depth networking.

“This is the place to be in West Virginia if you’re a business leader or a business owner. You’re going to find so many different opportunities to network and come up with ideas. Each year, there are hundreds of fantastic ideas of how to move West Virginia forward. We actually have networking opportunities built in each day.”

Jake Jarvis can be reached by phone at 304-935-0144, on Twitter at @JakeJarvisWV or by email at jjarvis@statejournal.com.

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