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Business Summit Brings People, Ideas Together

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On Aug. 28-30, hundreds of people will come together to talk about the future of West Virginia at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs.

At the 77th annual West Virginia Chamber Annual Meeting and Business Summit, education is the topic that will be highlighted.

"They always focus on what's at the hub right now and education is at the hub," said Janet Vineyard, president of OMEGA, the West Virginia Oil Marketers & Grocers Association.

Vineyard has been an attendee at the event for several years and describes it as being very well attended, with the number of attendees usually ranging between 600 and 700. 

In a press release, Steve Roberts, chamber president, expounds on the educational emphasis.

"The chamber has long worked toward making our schools the nation's best," Roberts said. "Despite some improvements during the past legislative session, much remains to be done. During the upcoming Chamber Annual Meeting and Business Summit, we will devote significant time to addressing ways to provide our children with a top-quality education, which will provide them the tools necessary for a successful future."

The schedule of events for the Annual Business and Meeting Summit includes seminars, symposiums, presentations, meetings and panel discussions, as well as a gala reception, leadership dinner, networking activities and a summit reception.

Elliot Washor, co-founder of Big Picture Learning, will highlight education through his discussion of "Education Transformation: What's Working in Other States."

Robin Capehart, president of West Liberty University, will moderate a symposium called "Education Transformation: What's Next for West Virginia?" Panelists will include Rev. Matthew Watts, senior pastor of Charleston's Grace Bible Church; Kathy D'Antoni, associate superintendent of West Virginia Department of Education; Delegate Amanda B. Pasdon, R-Monongalia, minority chair, Education Committee, House of Delegates; Josh Stowers, former vice-chair, Education Committee, West Virginia House of Delegates; and Will Nash, executive director, Teach for America-Appalachia. 

Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, will moderate a panel discussion titled "Technology's Role in Education, Economic Development and Job Creation." Panel members include Joe McCourt, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of Lumos Networks; Jose Sartarelli, dean of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics; Chip Slaven, senior advocacy advisor for the Alliance for Excellent Education; and J. Mac Holladay, CEO of Market Street Services. 

The order of events also includes CourtWatch, which is a review of what has gone through the West Virginia court system in the preceding years and the correlation of how it affected businesses.

This year, CourtWatch is titled "A Brief Overview of Recent West Virginia Supreme Court Decisions" and will include speakers Thomas Hurney Jr., of Jackson Kelly PLLC; Marc E. Williams, managing partner, Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough; Timothy Miley, speaker of the House of Delegates; and Kessler.

Updates on Supreme Court cases will be conducted by the West Virginia Chamber Legal Review Team.

In addition to being an informative event, the Business Summit is also a social event where acquaintances and friends can reconnect and networking opportunities are available.

For Vineyard, getting to see everyone is what she looks the most forward to.

"It's great to see everybody and find out what everybody's doing," Vineyard said. "It's an opportunity to reconnect. 

It also signals a shift in ebb and flow.

"Summer's almost over and we're ready to start into fall," Vineyard said. "Time to roll your sleeves back up and get to work."