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“I hope that today will usher in a reconsideration of the possibility of next generation broadband deployment in southern West Virginia. My hope is that this summit will build on our commitment to further prosperity in southern West Virginia and lay the seeds for partnerships that could come to shape the technological future and economic framework of the region and the entire state.”
The dramatic changes spurred by the New Economy and technological innovations are removing the geographic barriers that once held back rural areas for generations and the implications for West Virginia are tremendous. Due to these changing circumstances, the Foundation’s newest focus is to provide opportunities to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.
Senator Rockefeller founded the West Virginia Forum on Technology and Innovation to help residents of the Mountain State address the changes that are affecting the economy, and to assist them in figuring out ways that West Virginia can be competitive in the 21st century. These forums have become the standard for introducing or highlighting important economic development topics to different parts of the State.
In 1999, Senator Rockefeller and a small group of business leaders met in Charleston to discuss the state’s need for venture capital and a strong support system for entrepreneurs which would promote economic growth. Five years and hundreds of meetings later, Senator Rockefeller joined the DRWV Foundation to celebrate the official kick-off of the West Virginia Venture Connection (WVVC), the state’s first venture capital network.
With $150 million in venture capital available to state entrepreneurs, the WVVC works with West Virginia-focused venture firms to spur growth in venture capital and angel investment in the state. The WVVC accomplishes this goal through educating entrepreneurs, investors and service providers, and by providing networking activities for members. The Foundation works with this organization to organize events to promote entrepreneurship in the state.