WHEELING - From applying clean coal technology to further utilizing renewable resources, Juliet A. Terry believes West Virginia can lead the world in developing new forms of energy.
"Why shouldn't West Virginia be the global leader in energy research?" she said during an interview prior to the Sunday start of the 2010 Create West Virginia conference at Oglebay Park's Wilson Lodge.
A Wheeling native, Terry now serves as president of Vision Shared, the non-profit organization responsible for Create West Virginia. She said funding for Vision Shared comes from the West Virginia Development Office, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and other private donors.
Photos by Casey Junkins
Sarah Halstead Boland, executive director of West Virginia GreenWorks, speaks during the “Sustainable Innovation Summit” as part of the 2010 Create West Virginia conference Sunday at Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge, as Thomas Worlledge of McKinley & Associates listens.
This fourth-annual conference continues at 8:30 a.m today back at the lodge, and runs with events throughout the Friendly City until 2 p.m. Tuesday.
"This conference exists to give people the tools to grow their economies in ways that work for them," Terry said. "We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to development does not work."
Create West Virginia Chairman Jeff James echoed Terry's sentiments regarding individual communities, noting, "It's not like someone in Charleston is saying, 'Hey, go do this.'"
"A community may decide to pursue high-tech jobs if it has a great university. Wheeling has some amazing history and buildings to work with. Others may have some totally open space to create all new buildings," James said.
James said the conference is drawing Mountain State attendees from as far south as McDowell County and as far east as Jefferson County. He expects 250-275 total people to attend the conference.
Terry noted Vision Shared believes there are four main areas upon which the Mountain State should focus economic development: education, workforce development, entrepreneurship and research and commercialization. She also said while Vision Shared and Create West Virginia embrace the "new economy," they are not attempting to abandon traditional industry and resources like steel and coal.
"Moving toward the new economy does not mean we are throwing away our industrial heritage," Terry said. "There is no limit to the creative capacity of West Virginia."
In highlighting the actual work of the conference, Terry emphasized, "There are a lot of high level talks going on here. Everyone wants to share and learn together."
Sarah Halstead Boland serves as executive director of West Virginia GreenWorks and is the owner of Katalyst Development Strategies. During one of the pre-conference workshops Sunday, she explained some of the ways West Virginia residents can employ "clean-tech," which she said could help make industry more efficient.
During an interview following the session, Boland said, "We are talking about disrupting the status quo here."
"In West Virginia, the poorest people are paying way too much for energy," she said. "And we have virtually no environmental protections."
Though she declined to name the legislator, Boland said a recent conversation with a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates left her quite puzzled.
"He said we are one of the richest states. I don't know how he can say that when we have so much poverty," she said.
Despite the current situation, Boland said she returned to her native West Virginia after spending time in San Diego, Japan and Nepal because the state offers so much potential for growth.
"West Virginia is awesome," she said of the state's natural environmental beauty, noting she wants to protect that beauty from unnecessary destruction.
"West Virginia is geographically positioned to be close enough to all the eastern metropolitan areas, but far enough away to do its own thing," Boland added.
Boland's session was one of several available to those at the meeting. Though Wilson Lodge serves as the conference's home base, Terry said, "We want to show off Wheeling - not just Oglebay."