Entrepreneurship Opportunities: The Future of West Virginia

Oct 2, 2018 | Entrepreneurs, Positively West Virginia

What is West Virginia’s future? John Deskins, an associate economics professor, research director at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) and assistant dean for outreach and engagement at the West Virginia University (WVU) College of Business and Economics, talked with The Positively West Virginia Podcast host, Jim Matuga, about his insight into the economic outlook of West Virginia, where West Virginia is headed in terms of entrepreneurship opportunities and the upcoming conferences he will be speaking at.

Entrepreneurship Opportunities

2017 West Virginia Economic Outlook Conference held in Charleston, WV. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond president Jeffrey M. Lacker and WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research Director John Deskins forecast the coming year’s economic trends. A panel representing the state’s key business and industry sectors discuss implications of the forecast from their perspectives.October 4, 2016. (J. Alex Wilson – WVU College of Business and Economics)

How do we instill, especially in young people, that they can learn here (in West Virginia) and that they can build something here?

“At WVU, we’re putting a lot of effort into entrepreneurship. For example, we have a nicely developed entrepreneurship program in the College of Business and Economics. We’re teaching entrepreneurship, and we’re emphasising entrepreneurship much more than we used to. And, we’re emphasising experiential learning,” Deskins said. “The students come and they take classes. They learn from books and abstract ideas, but now we’re focusing a lot more on putting the student in the actual workplace.”

“We’re creating small business incubators. Right here on campus, if a student has a small business but it’s not big enough to get off of the ground, we have facilities that we can loan to them to use for their workers. And, they can tap into resources that the university has in terms of expertise in marketing, accounting, finance and human resources.”

During the podcast, Matuga recounted another podcast guest’s entrepreneurship story, Jordan Masters. Masters was on his way to class at WVU when he saw a poster on a bulletin board. It was for a business plan competition. He ended up winning $10,000 for his business plan, and now he has a successful company, Allegheny Genesis, where he has many employees.

Masters, a guy from Lewisburg, could have left the state, but he decided to stay here with the support of the College of Business and Economics and other resources that WVU offered.

“I’m so proud that that originated in this college,” Deskins said. “Again, this is such a multi-faceted issue, but first you have to get people to simply think about entrepreneurship and think about the idea of going on their own and doing something.”

“I think what you’re doing with your podcast is a very important element. Just getting people to think about entrepreneurship as a real option. I think what you’re doing is one of the many things we should be doing to create more of an economic ecosystem.”

Deskins is also a part of a team that publishes new research in the WVU Economic Outlook publication. You can catch Matuga’s article on October 5. Matuga discusses the best pieces of advice and takeaways that West Virginia business owners, that he has interviewed on the podcast, have given him.

West Virginia Business Outlook Conference

Deskins will be presenting research on West Virginia’s business outlook at several Economic Outlook Conferences around the state in October and November.

The BBER conference, founded in 1994, is a public event. Hundreds of business and community leaders across the state will attend this conference to obtain forecasts for the national and state ecnonomies, analyses of recent national and state trends and join in the discussion of economic interests.

The first conference will be held October 3 from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m at the Embassy Suites Hotel Charleston.

Listen to Deskin’s full podcast here.


  • RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: The Wall Street Journal
  • RECOMMENDED BOOK: The Armchair Economist by Steven Landsburg and Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner
  • PIECE OF ADVICE: “It’s very complicated out there. It’s very complex. Once I graduated college, I didn’t stop learning. My advice would be to be open minded, understand that it is a very complex system and to be a lifelong learner. You shouldn’t think that you know it all, and this way is the only way. You’re always going to be learning, and the economy is always changing.”

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