West Virginia Roundtable Meeting Report: April 15, 2019


West Virginia Roundtable April 15, 2019 Meeting Report

The West Virginia Roundtable meeting on April 15th featured very informative and, indeed, inspiring presentations and was attended by approximately 35 members and guests. 

After welcoming remarks from Tom Heywood, Chairman, and Bob Simpson, President, Wally Kandel, an international senior vice president with Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC, and the Solvay Marietta site manager, made a presentation about the vast potential for the Ohio River Valley to attract petrochemical manufacturing industry investments. Documented studies show a significant net present value advantage for such investments and estimate that the area could attract as much as $36 billion in investment and create as many as 101,000 jobs. The creation of an ethane storage hub (the current initiative of the Roundtable is to advocate for this) is a key piece of the infrastructure needed to facilitate such investments. 

Wally is a member of the board of Shale Crescent, USA, a nonprofit organization with a mission to encourage business growth in the petrochemical industry along the Ohio River Valley. Shale Crescent was also represented by Mark Schwendeman, Greg Kozera, and Nathan Lord. 

Senator Joe Manchin informed the group about his service on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and about a bill he is introducing “S. 1064 – The Appalachian Energy for National Security Act of 2019.” The Act would require the Department of energy, in consultation with the Department of Defense and the Department of the Treasury, to conduct a study and issue a report on the national security benefits of the proposed hub located in Appalachia. 

Dr. Jerry Gilbert, President of Marshall University, introduced Brad Smith, Executive Chairman of Intuit Inc. Dr. Gilbert then interviewed Brad, who shared his observations on a variety of topics, including: 

  • The key trends in business today: Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and the power of handheld computing devices / phones. The upside for West Virginia based on the work ethic and character of its people.
  • The announcement that Intuit will open a “prosperity hub” in downtown Bluefield that will create up to 500 jobs. The prosperity hub will include a customer success center for the Intuit product QuickBooks and an innovation lab to help small businesses. More than 900 communities were screened before Bluefield was chosen. 
Brad noted that he and West Virginia University graduate John Chambers are collaborating on initiatives to help West Virginia. He closed by describing his passion for Marshall University and his home state of West Virginia.

In summary, the meeting was full of rich content and stimulating discussion. Click here to view photos from the meeting.

Bob Simpson
West Virginia Roundtable