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Community Highlights

West Virginia: Highlights from Charleston

Jen Giovannitti welcomes participants to the program.

West Virginia Emerging Leaders Dinner

Although West Virginia is a small state with less than two million in total population, the state has a propensity for collaboration for greater economic prosperity. This characteristic was illustrated when top leaders attended a program in West Virginia on June 6 to reinforce a commitment to a brighter future. The dinner, hosted by the Richmond Fed along with its partners, West Virginia Forward and the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative, presented an opportunity to focus on the future, specifically the workforce of the future, including how machine learning will alter jobs and the core skills needed in the workforce. The program engaged an important lesson from the state of North Carolina on the use of its 33 year annual “Emerging Issues Forum,” to align the goals and efforts of the public and private sectors for future aspirations.

West Virginia recently launched West Virginia Forward, a statewide initiative and partnership between West Virginia University, Marshall University, and the West Virginia Department of Commerce. WV Forward is a data-driven initiative based on a commissioned study to progress the state’s economy. As leaders of WV Forward, the two university presidents and secretary of commerce have pooled their resources and united around a collaborative strategy for the state. On June 6th, the institutional leaders came together with influential leaders in industry, philanthropy, academia and the public sector to learn about the future of workforce and exchange ideas on the long-term strategy used by North Carolina leaders.

Pictured: Jen Giovannitti, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Gordon Gee, West Virginia University; and Ann Berry, West Virginia University

Jen Giovannitti, regional community development manager, is continuously working with leaders in West Virginia around the issues of workforce and education, and this program added value to strategic initiatives that align with priorities at the Richmond Fed. At the dinner, keynote speaker Mark Kamlet, Provost Emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), highlighted the hollowing out of middle skills jobs occurring in the economy and how machine learning could be the next trigger for wholesale changes to job composition and skills demands, an important context for economic transformation. Kamlet is a global consultant for companies like Google, as well as a Professor at the Heinz School of Public Policy at CMU.

Jack Cecil, National Advisory Board Chair, Institute for Emerging Issues and Jeanne Milliken Bonds, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

The June 6 Leadership Learning Exchange dinner was an example of how the Richmond Fed’s community development team leverages partnerships across states in the District to advance strategies and leading practices. Jeanne Milliken Bonds, senior manager, regional community development, has been involved in the North Carolina Emerging Issues Forum since its inception, and through her work, the Richmond Fed has participated in the Forum for the past three  years. Together with Jack Cecil, Chair of the National Advisory Committee for the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University, Jeanne engaged a question and answer session with the WV leaders about the North Carolina Emerging Issues Forum and Institute for Emerging Issues. The Emerging Issues Forum was created to focus on critical questions that require the attention of the entire state of North Carolina and grew from a North Carolina State University-led forum on public policy and public issues in 1985 to an institute with associated programs and professional staff. The Forum has been noted for its focus on the biotechnology industry which led to the creation of a growing and evolving industry sector in the state and industry partnerships with three top-tier research universities.

Making connections between leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District and helping to identify and share leading practices in the field of community development, including innovative ideas like the Emerging Issues Forum, is what the Richmond Fed’s Community Development department does every day.

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