Josh Sawyers, Innovation Center Manager at UVa-Wise, said Monday that this year marks the Forum’s fourth year in bringing together economic developers, the business and education sectors, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs and others to seek ways to make the region progress.
Sawyers said the event, at the David J. Prior Convocation Center, is co-sponsored by the UVa-Wise Office of Economic Development and Engagement, American Electric Power and the GO Virginia economic development initiative. The day’s presentations and sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“This is the second themed forum of the series,” Sawyers said. “Last year’s forum theme was ‘All Around the Workplace,’ and this year’s theme is ‘Technology.’ ”
Sessions, speeches and displays for the 2019 Forum will focus on ways to integrate technological development like automation, artificial intelligence and blockchain into the economy, Sawyers said. The effects of those technologies and on coordinating economic development efforts in the region also will be discussed.
“In today’s world, technology is integrated into all aspects of our lives,” UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry stated in a release from Forum organizers. “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.”
College Development Engagement Chancellor Shannon Blevins stated that Southwest Virginia has already made significant investments in broadband and technology education that help provide opportunities for progress in information technology, healthcare, community development and tourism efforts.
“Strong communities start with a strong infrastructure and a strong talent pool,” Blevins stated. “We have both.”
The forum drew approximately 400 attendees in 2018, Sawyers said, and is aiming for more participants this year. Elected officials from the region are a regular feature of the forums, he added.
Sawyers said some presentations will range from Dickenson County’s Ridgeview High School robotics team to local commercial drone applications in fields such as photography. Additional submissions by presenters are welcome, he said, and interested organizations or individuals can contact Becky O’Quinn with the Office of Economic Development and Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (276) 254-0419.
The Forum now has more than 25 sponsors and about 25 groups scheduled to host information sites at the event, Sawyers said. Groups or individuals interested in a sponsorship can also contact O’Quinn.
Registration to attend the Forum is $25 through March 15 and $35 after that date, Sawyers said.
For more information on the 2019 SWVA Economic Forum, visit the Forum website at www.uvawise.edu/ economicforum or check Twitter or Facebook: @SWVA_ Economic_Forum for the latest updates.