West Virginia Good Jobs Conference

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Save the Date! November 6th-8th, 2017 in Beckley, West Virginia

The WV Good Jobs Conference brings together entrepreneurs, funders, accelerators, local community leaders and government agencies to trade ideas, recognize leading entrepreneurs, provide mentorship and support to entrepreneurs in Southern WV. Our focus is on bringing everyone to the table to create sustainable economic development throughout Appalachia.

The WV Good Jobs Pitch Contest provides an opportunity for local entrepreneurs who are interested in starting, growing or saving their business to ‘pitch’ their best idea and be eligible to receive cash awards. As part of the conference, participation in round table workshops will strengthen business plans and provide networking opportunities to obtain funding.

Good Jobs Conference Workshops

MONDAY – NOVEMBER 6
1:00-1:30 | Welcome and Opening Remarks

1:30-3:30
  • Story Telling, Highlights, and Insight from Regional Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

3:30-4:00 | Break

4:00-5:30 | Annual Awards Ceremony
  • Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Small Business of the Year
  • Innovation in the Coalfields Award
  • Non-Profit of the Year

5:30-6:30 | Networking Hour
TUESDAY – NOVEMBER 7
9:00-12:00 | Meet the Capital Expo

Access to capital is often the primary concern of entrepreneurs and business owners as they seek to start, grow, or save their businesses. Furthermore, the lack of local investment in home-grown start-ups and locally owned businesses has been a significant barrier to economic growth and diversification in the region. This 'expo' type event bridges the gap between entrepreneurs/business owners and the capital they need by creating an opportunity to mix and mingle with the managers of banks, revolving loan funds, Community Development Financial Institutions, venture capital groups, and foundations heads, all of whom have an expressed desire to fund and support entrepreneurial efforts across the state. Funders will have the opportunity to showcase their specific financial offerings, while business owners (and those wishing to be) will be able to chat, compare notes, and even pitch (informally) their ideas. All of the Good Jobs Pitch Contestants, regardless of their performance in the contest, should take this opportunity to “meet the capital” that might fund their next venture or enterprise.

Expo Participants: Wyoming County Economic Development Authority, Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF), New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), MACED, Philanthropy WV, One Foundation, and others.

9:00-10:15 | Breakout Sessions

1 | Finding Funding in Your Community - Margin Businesses

Session Facilitators: Joseph Brouse (NRGRDA) and Justin White (NCIF)

2 | The Future of Hemp in WV

This workshop will discuss the industrial hemp pilot program in West Virginia including relevant legal foundations, permitting requirements for growers, current farming operations, processing infrastructure, and future markets for industrial hemp products.

Session Facilitators: Morgan Leach (WVFC)

3 | Women in Entrepreneruship and Business Forum/Table Talks

Session Facilitators: Savanna Lyons (Refresh Appalachia)


10:15-10:45 | Break

10:45-12:00 | Breakout Sessions

4 | Finding Funding in Your Community - Mission Businesses

Social Enterprises and Non-Profits require start-up capital just like margin businesses. This session focuses on how social entrepreneurs can get the early stage funding they need to get their idea off the ground and rolling.

Session Facilitators: TBA

5 | Youth Entrepreneurs Panel

Join us for an engaging discussion with a panel of young entrepreneurs who have successfully turned an idea into a business in West Virginia. They'll share what has made them successful, lessons they've learned they wish they knew starting out, and takeaways for improved entrepreneurial support in the state based on their experiences.

Session Facilitators: Natalie Roper (Generation WV) and Lauren Kemp (Unlimited Future)

6 | Opportunities in WV within the Renewable and Efficient Energy Sectors

Session Facilitators: Dan Conant (Solar Holler), Emmett Pepper (Energy Efficient West Virginia), and Xavier Walter (Energy Efficient West Virginia)


12:00-12:15 | Break

12:15-1:30 | Lunch

12:15-2:30 | Public Policy meets Economic Development (during Lunch)

This event will give conference attendees insight into how policy effects business here in WV and how policy change works. The emphasis will be on real economic development policy ideas and the nuts on bolts of engaging with lawmakers. This interactive forum will feature policy makers from the state and national level discussing economic policy and fielding suggestions from community leaders and conference participants.

Forum Facilitator: Stephen Smith (West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition)


2:30-3:00 | Break

3:00-6:00 | Technical Assistance Expo for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

One of the significant hurdles that all entrepreneurs and small business owners face is getting the legal, financial, technological, and straight business advice they need at a cost they can afford. Now is your chance: this 3-hour expo will feature business coaches, attorneys, accountants, marketing and PR specialists, all of whom are here to support new and growing businesses in WV. This is a rare opportunity for the aspiring entrepreneur and business owner to network and get some free advice from experts from various fields to help their business reach the next stage of its development.

Expo Participants: Joseph Brouse (NRGRDA), Ruthana Beezley (WV Hive), Judy Morris-Moore (WV Hive)


3:00-4:15 | Breakout Sessions

7 | Agriculture on Reclaimed Mine Sites

Session Facilitators: Ben Gilmer (Refresh Appalachia) and Nathan Hall (Reclaim Appalachia)

8 | Community Health and Economic Development

Session Facilitators: Kate Long (Try This) and Melanie Seilor (Active SWV)

9 | ZERO to Business Model in 74 Minutes

Learn the basic concepts of identifying a business opportunity, determining the market, validating the idea, and learning what steps you should take to launch a startup. Join Bryan Shaw and Jeremy Turner for 74 minutes, yes seventy-four minutes, as these two successful consultants and entrepreneurs deliver an interactive workshop on entrepreneurship that you won’t want to miss.

Session Facilitators: Bryan Shaw (RCBI Ten50 Accelerator) and Jeremy Turner (EPIC Mission)


4:15-4:45 | Break

4:45-6:00 | Breakout Sessions

10 | The How's and Why's of Cooperative Business Structure

What's different about a cooperative business? Join us in this learning session about the how's and why's of establishing a cooperative business. The panel will discuss the 7 cooperative principles, considerations before starting new cooperative businesses, and provide some examples from WV and surrounding states. We'll discuss the basics of setting up a cooperative, including new businesses, cooperative conversions, and consumer and producer cooperatives. Cooperative businesses are inclusive and a great way to promote local ownership and increase the impact of economic development in your community. Come learn about the budding cooperative ecosystem in WV and central Appalachia.

Session Facilitators: Priya Baskaran (WVU), Sam Petsonk (Mountain State Justice), Lauren Kemp (Unlimited Future)

11 | Coalfield Development Crew Member Council

Each month, every crew member in Coalfield Development's various enterprises across southern West Virginia gathers to discuss and propose solutions to the various problems they face in their workplace. This session is mandatory for all employees of Coalfield, but others are invited to see how the members of one of the region's pre-eminant social enterprises gather to discuss and solve their most pressing issues.

Session Facilitator: Ryan Stoner (Coalfield Development)

12 | Best Practices and What's really working in Economic Development

Session Facilitators: Christy Laxton (Wyoming County EDA), Leasha Johnson (Mingo County RDA), Gabe Peña (Fayette County Commission)


6:30 | Dinner offsite with Pitches
WEDNESDAY – NOVEMBER 8
9:00-12:00 | Post Mine Land Use - A Convening of Land Owners and Business Owners

A significant economic opportunity lies in the thousands of acres of reclaimed mine land across the ‘coalfields’ of WV. New crops like lavender and hemp, the increasing national demand for renewable energy, advances in timber management and timber based products, and the dramatic increase in ATV related tourism all combine to create significant business opportunities for the right partnership between landowners and entrepreneurs. This roundtable is an opportunity for the owners and directors of WV’s many private landholding organizations to interact with farmers, ATV enthusiasts, solar experts, timber specialists and others to bounce ideas and create viable business ventures that benefit all parties. Entrepreneurs will have access to the owners and decision makers around land in southern WV, and landowners will hear of exciting opportunities for their property once “the coal is out”.

Expo Participants: Gary Begley (PVR Coal), Gary Stover (PVR Coal), Lewis Payne, Howard Sammons (Sammons Law LLC), Zachary Drennen (Briar Mountain Coal and Coke), Beth Wheatley (TNC), Joey James (Downstream Strategies)

9:00-10:15 | Breakout Sessions

13 | Employment, Addiction, and Recovery: A Panel Discussion and Forum

This panel discussion and forum brings together expert insight into the issue to of workforce re-entry for those recovering from addiction and/or coming out of prison. This is a huge and largely untapped source of both skilled and unskilled labor for WV's economy. Listen, discuss, and learn about the various benefits to employers through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Free Fidelity Bondings well as how to get felons to register with Workforce WV.

Session Facilitators: Rev. Jeff Allen (WV Council of Churches), Joe Deagan, Rachael Thaxton, Steve Roberts (WV Chamber), Reggie Jones (KISRA), Brenda Huffman (Parole Services)

14 | Union of Concerned Scientists

15 | Creating Jobs for People with Disabilities

A network of social enterprises is working in the Mountain State to find and create good jobs. West Virginia has several nonprofit organizations scattered across the state called Community Rehabilitation Programs most of which have jobs for people with disability as their mission. Sometimes these agencies work to place people with disabilities with community employers and other times they create lines of business to create customized jobs for people with disabilities. A quick assessment shows that these agencies have created over 3,000 jobs in West Virginia. They shred documents in Morgantown, they package wiping cloths in Ravenswood, they grow vegetables in Reedsville, they clean and landscape buildings all over the state, and do it well. This session is an overview of how they create jobs.

Session Facilitator: Bob Pirner (West Virginia Association for Disability Employment)


10:15-10:45 | Break

10:45-12:00 | Breakout Sessions

16 | Power of Youth as Social Entrepreneurs and Alternative Economic Thinkers

Session Facilitators: Bradley Wilson (WVU) and Amanda Marple (WVU)

17 | Cautionary Tales and Successes in Starting and Operating a Social Enterprise

Social enterprises face many challenges in common with other businesses, but also have some unique challenges and opportunities, given their social mission. This session will look at some of these practicalities and lessons learned through real life stories and examples. The purpose of this interactive session is to apply learning from social enterprises around key concepts, strengthening start-up and existing enterprises.

Session Facilitators: Brandon Dennison (Coalfield Development) and Barbara Wyckoff (One Foundation)


12:00-12:15 | Break

12:15-2:30 | Lunch and Pitch Awards

2:30 | Closing and Final Goodbye
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We Hope to See You There!

Brought to you by a growing range of partners including: Coalfield Development, New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, TechConnect, The Hive, WV Community Development Hub, WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, WV Council of Churches, Wyoming County Economic Development Authority, WV Chamber of Commerce, Generation WV, Natural Capital Investment Fund, US Department of Commerce, Try This West Virginia, Fayette County Commission, WV Dept of Agriculture, WV Dept. of Commerce, West Virginia TechPark, WV Center on Budget and Policy, Our Children - Our Future, US Economic Development Authority, Southern Appalachian Labor School, Strong Mountain Communities