WHEELING, W.Va (WTRF) – It’s a conference that provides a solid economic outlook for not only this region, but also the state and nation. 

7News Reporter Annalise Murphy was at the Wheeling Area Chamber of Conference 2023 Economic Outlook session Thursday to learn more about where the northern panhandle stands economically in comparison to the rest of West Virginia. 

Economic growth for the United States and West Virginia is pressured by interest rates, which have been increasing for the past two years. Economists say COVID-19 was a big factor.  

Featured conference speaker John Deskins is the Director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research and has focused a lot of his research on economic development – especially at the state level.  

He says much of the economic growth throughout the state of West Virginia is region dependent.  

Some regions in the state are doing very well, while others are not.  

“Ohio County is one of the growth counties going forward, according to our projections. You know, here at this event we lay out a five-year forecast for growth across the state and for all counties. Again, many of the counties are going to be stagnant going forward. But Ohio is one of the counties that are in the right category, that are growing, that are adding jobs, that have momentum.” 

John Deskins, Ph.D | Director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research

Deskins says Ohio County’s urban setting is a large factor in the growing economy.  

“We have a more diversified industrial mix here in Ohio County, and we have some good energy related opportunities as well here where we have growth that connects to our abundant energy resources in one way or another.” 

John Deskins, Ph.D | Director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research

David H. McKinley, President, Chief Investment Officer at McKinley Carter Wealth Services, was another featured speaker spoke about how the national and global economy interacts with the economy of West Virginia and Wheeling.  

He says they are paying close attention to the Federal Reserves and expect interest rates to drop within the next year.  

“We think that the first half of 2024 for the Federal Reserve will be cutting interest rates by at least half a percentage point, maybe a full percentage point. And we believe that corporate earnings outlook is very bright for 2024 and 2025.” 

David H. McKinley | President/Chief Investment Officer, McKinley Carter Wealth Services

McKinley says inflation is currently at 4% but is on its way to a target of 2%.  

WTRF was a proud media sponsor of the conference.