Virginia Governor Ralph Northam will speak at the third annual SWVA Economic Forum, set Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the David J. Prior Convocation Center at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Northam has made economic development and growth a top priority since taking office, and he has visited the region on several occasions. The governor will attend the morning session of the forum and will speak to the crowd as well.

The theme of this year’s event is Talent. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and a creative exchange of solutions from across the borders in neighboring states are just a few reasons you won’t want to miss this one-day event. Why Talent? The topic of Talent is resonating with every sector throughout the region. Businesses, economic development, education and workforce professionals, as well as employees and students face challenges on a daily basis.

Where do we go from here? echoes throughout these sectors as a greying workforce is being replaced by new generations. As technology advances, employers need an adaptive and trainable talent pool. The region seeks to retrain, recruit and retain talent. As the one of the Forum keynote speakers, Cheryl Cran will focus on the Future of Work. Cheryl is an award-winning international consultant, best-selling author and highly sought-after speaker. She has worked in multiple industries, with hundreds of clients and thousands of leaders worldwide. Her research and thought leadership on the Future of Work and Change Leadership have been featured in CNBC, Huffington Post, Metro New York, Readers Digest, Financial Post, Fox, Entrepreneur magazine and more.

Southwest Virginia is not alone facing the talent gap. Creative solutions for addressing these challenges will be shared by four bordering states. Examples of regions and communities who are transforming their economies will be the focus of a panel, which includes Chuck Sexton, CEO of One East Kentucky and Brad Hall, VP of American Electric Power, as well as Jack Meadows, Planning Commissioner for Siler City, North Carolina. Also on the panel are Jina Belcher of Coalfields Development, Wayne, West Virginia and Michael Griffith of Security Federal Savings of McMinnville, Tennessee. After sharing their local stories, these panelist will engage in an in depth discussion during an afternoon breakout session.

The Forum agenda is packed with opportunities to learn and connect. Opportunity SWVA, a network of small business and entrepreneur support resources will launch KIVA, a funding platform that enables potential investors to support new business opportunities throughout the region. Eight breakout sessions on different topics are planned for the day and networking expands into the evening with happy hour in St. Paul. To showcase the outdoor adventure assets of SWVA, Virginia Tourism Corporation’s #CrushFriday campaign has organized excursions and recreational activities at discounted prices for May 18 and 19.

Make plans to attend the 2018 SWVA Economic Forum on May 17. Citizens, educators, as well as community and business leaders are welcome and encouraged to attend. Together we will discover the region’s best talent assets, cultivate new ideas and ignite a passion for working collaboratively to build Southwest Virginia’s future.

The Forum agenda and additional information may be found at: Follow SWVA Economic Forum on social media for event updates.

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