BECKLEY, W.Va. — The 2018 New River Gorge Economic Outlook forum was held in Raleigh County on Wednesday, with a wide-ranging discussion of ongoing and future challenges for southern West Virginia’s economic health.
John Deskins, Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University, was the guest speaker for the event. He told the audience that the financial stability of the region will depend largely on Raleigh County.
“Raleigh County has been just the most stable, in general. For the four-county region here, Nicholas and Fayette, frankly, have been a lot weaker…the growth has been most in Raleigh County. It’s, by far, the biggest county, as well,” said Deskins, adding, “As WVU Tech continues to develop and continues to promote it’s brand and it’s image here in the region, it can probably bring in more young people…it’s certainly going to be an important driver of the region.”
Deskins pointed out that, while there has been notable growth in the state in the last few years, much of the improvement has been geographically uneven, and has not been as diverse as it needs to be, in order to continue the trend.
“The growth that we see now is still heavily concentrated in energy and construction, and most of that construction also is related to energy, as well. So we need to get the growth to be more broad by sector,” he said.
In addition to serving as Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University, Deskins is also the Assistant Dean for Outreach and Engagement, and Associate Professor of Economics in the College of Business and Economics. He received his PhD in Economics from the University of Tennessee. His research specialization has been in economic development, small business economics, and government tax and expenditure policy, primarily at the state level.