Planning for the fourth annual SWVA Economic Forum is underway to bring together the region’s economic developers, educators, business owners, non-profits and others to envision ways to move Southwest Virginia forward.

The SWVA Economic Forum has become the place for the region to discuss new ideas and work collaboratively to build Southwest Virginia’s future. The theme for this year’s forum is Technology and will feature keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions exploring strategies to integrate disruptive technologies such as blockchain, automation, artificial intelligence, and their effects on the future of work in the rural communities of Southwest Virginia.

“In today’s world, technology is integrated into all aspects of our lives. From education and industry to the way our civic and community organizations operate, technology underpins our work,” said UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “Leveraging technology offers Southwest Virginia one of the best opportunities to continue diversifying the region’s economy. So, there will be something for everyone at this year’s forum.”

The 2019 SWVA Economic Forum is scheduled for May 15 in the David J. Prior Convocation Center on the campus of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise. The Forum agenda will be packed with opportunities to learn, engage in active conversations and network with individuals and group projects taking place in the region.

“Our region has made significant investments in broadband as well as technologically focused education programs,” stated Shannon Blevins, associate vice chancellor for the Office of Economic Development & Engagement. “These investments position Southwest Virginia for opportunities to advance in sectors such as healthcare, information technology including cyber and big data, as well as community development and tourism. Strong communities start with a strong infrastructure and a strong talent pool. We have both.”

The SWVA Economic Forum has seen steady growth with almost 400 people in attendance last year, and many of the action team’s initiatives have been additions to Southwest Virginia economic ecosystem in 2018.

“I am very pleased that the Economic Forum is focusing on technology this year”, said, Dan Minahan, Director of Southwest Virginia Operations at Crutchfield Corporation. “From being the first retailer to be authorized by CE manufacturers to sell equipment across the Internet in 1997, to most recently (2019) launching our patented Speaker Compare TM technology, which offers the world’s first method of auditioning speaker tonal differences remotely from one’s living room, Crutchfield continually endeavors to combine new technologies with emotionally enriching relationships among our customers all over the United States and Canada. For the last 20 years, our employees in Southwestern Virginia have been an integral part of the development and deployment of many new technology advancements. Our region and its people are well positioned to move forward into new and expanding technology frontiers, which will certainly drive the diversity and growth of our regional economy in the future.“

Do you have a creative technology solution for SWVA? Opportunities to present the best ideas for the region will be available. To learn more please contact Becki O’Quinn at bjoyce@uvawise.edu.

Registration for the forum will be available soon. Please save the date and plan to attend this important event to build strong innovation and regional partnerships to help Southwest Virginia thrive.     Additional information may be found at www.uvawise.edu/economicforum/ and also be sure to follow @SWVA_Econ_Forum on social media for the latest event updates.