CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Job creation and economic development ideas in the growing technology field took center stage in the capital city on Tuesday.
TechConnect West Virginia hosted the 3rd Annual West Virginia Coding & Cyber Summit at the Charleston Embassy Suites Hotel. The summit featured cyber experts from federal, state and local agencies along with representatives from global technology giants such as Intuit and Northrop Grumman.
Bernie McKay, the Chief Policy Officer and VP Global Corporate Affairs at Intuit was featured as the keynote speaker and spoke directly to MetroNews about his message. He wants to find ways to get economies across the country back up and running where the traditional industry has left town.
“As recessions hit and everything sinks, everything doesn’t come back equally,” McKay said. “As industries change or move out, or any number of changes in the marketplace, not every part of the country snaps back at the same speed.”
Intuit has created quite the presence in West Virginia since the opening of a Prosperity Hub in Bluefield that created more than 100 jobs. The hub includes a customer success center for the Intuit product QuickBooks and an innovation lab to help small businesses.
The company’s hubs are built in regions with high unemployment rates and a gap in new jobs coming when old jobs left. McKay said hubs like are one step in the right direction for regions like small-town West Virginia.
Another step that McKay thought was critical in growing the tech industry in the Mountain State was STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, education in the high schools.
He’d like to see schools embrace these subjects and welcome students from all walks of life in the programs that help local economies.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a boy or a girl; what matters it God-given talent and an eagerness to learn. And a desire to be able to do more, do something better, have a brighter life than they might have otherwise had if they didn’t do all those things,” McKay told MetroNews.
Speakers and guests at the event included: Mitch Carmichael, president, West Virginia Senate; Major Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of West Virginia; Joshua Spence, chief technology officer at the state Office of Technology; Randy Bishop, chief technology officer, IIA Technologies; Jim Cratty, chief of protective security, CISA, DHS; Michele Lantz, systems engineer manager, Northrop Grumman; Matt Turner of the Higher Education Policy Commission; Danielle Cox, chief information security officer, state Office of Technology; Dave Tackett, chief information officer at WV Secretary of State; Don Peal, director of information technology, City of Charleston; Nancy Ligus of the state Community & Technical College System; John Sammons, Marshall University; and Brian Woerner, West Virginia University.
Further topics discussed were national and local threats through cyber walls and more job opportunities in coding and security.
McKay told everyone there that motivation is the first thing that needs to be checked when landing those jobs
“How do we encourage young people and older people who still have a lot to give to move toward durable employment in a marketplace where technology-related jobs are becoming the big things.”