Rebecca McPhail, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association (WVMA), talked with Jim Matgua, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about what she’s most excited about for manufacturing in West Virginia, the advantages of joining WVMA and her advice to young entrepreneurs.
McPhail joined WVMA in 2013 as its president. McPhail previously served as president of the State Economic Development Organization, Vision Shared. Prior to working at Vision Shared, she was the assistant vice president of development at Marshall University.
What are you most excited about for manufacturing in WV?
“I think our relationship with the energy industry, natural gas, oil and shale development really paints a bright picture of the future of manufacturing in West Virginia,” McPhail said. “Whether that is chemical manufacturing or petrol chemical manufacturing and the use of shale derivative to really spur a rebirth of chemical manufacturing in our state and the broader region.”
“It has the potential to not just to lift West Virginia, but as you’ve seen in Ohio and Pennsylvania, it can provide an economic boost there. It really positions our region to be a leader in chemical production and energy independence and really can strengthen the overall economy.”
What is the advantage of joining WVMA?
“We have a great working relationship with the West Virginia Office of Development, which is really one of the first places I point anyone who has an interest in investing in the state,” McPhail said. “There are incentive programs and loan programs, as well as overall help in starting a business.”
“More importantly, especially as a small company, the diversity. Our WVMA membership isn’t just a product or geography. It’s the size of a company who is a member. We have companies who have thousands of employees and companies that have two or three employees. Obviously, those are very different operations, but through the WVMA network that we’ve established over more than 100 years, we have a wealth of knowledge. We have a lot of different working groups that our members can participate in that really provide a valuable resource.”
“If you’re a small manufacturer that is wearing 10 hats, and maybe don’t have a specialty like environmental health and safety, you can pull from our resources in that subject matter from some of the companies that may have three or four people working in that area.”
Can you speak about the smaller manufacturing jobs that have surfaced?
“Here in Charleston, there was a grand opening of a new distillery on Capital Street. The Craft Brewing Association is a member of the WVMA and is a great partner.”
“I think this concept of a new manufacturing isn’t just related to the technology in today’s manufacturing world. I really do think there is an emphasis on artists in manufacturing.”
What is one piece of advice you would give a young entrepreneur?
“Do not be discouraged. I think when you start putting the pieces together, it can be daunting,” McPhail said. “There’s a lot of information and resources. While it’s all fantastic, it can be overwhelming.”
“Jumping in with realistic expectations and timelines, and not being afraid to ask for help are probably the beginnings of a recipe to be successful.”
McPhail was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to her full podcast here.
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- PIECE OF ADVICE: “Do not be discouraged,” McPhail advised.