By September 12, 2017 Read More →

WVU Economic Outlook Conference set for Oct. 5

PNC chief economist, Commerce Secretary Thrasher among speakers at annual West Virginia event

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s economy has seen a turbulent year, filled with budget uncertainty and lot of angst about the future of the state.

That will make the 24th Annual West Virginia Economic Outlook Conference Oct.5 in Charleston that much more important to state business leaders, policymakers and stakeholders. The EOC event will be held at Charleston Embassy Suites from 7:30 a.m. to noon and will include a full agenda that includes data, economic forecasts and key speakers.

Among those addressing attendees at the annual conference will be Gus Faucher, chief economist for the PNC Financial Services Group; West Virginia Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher; and Dr. John Deskins, BBER director.

The event is presented annually by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research, which is housed in the College of Business and Economics. The agenda will include Faucher’s U.S. Economic Outlook; Deskins’ presentation of the West Virginia Economic Outlook that will include a report from Mark Muchow, Deputy Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Revenue; Thrasher’s presentation on “Moving West Virginia’s Economy Forward”; and a panel discussion on the state’s small business climate.

“It is always our goal to provide EOC attendees with as much crucial information as possible, and we do that through an economic outlook on the national and state levels as well as a look at economic issues that are germane to West Virginia,” Deskins said. “For nearly two and a half decades, people across the state have relied on us to provide detailed, reliable and unbiased forecasts. We have hosted thousands and thousands of attendees at our conference series who want to get an analysis of recent national and state trends, as well as other economic issues of interest. The heightened importance of the data this year is undeniable.”

The panel on the small business climate in West Virginia will be comprised of six individuals:

·      Diana Strong-Treister, president and owner, Manpower of WV, Inc.

·      Brad Ritchie, president, Summit Community Bank

·      Jim Pennington, president and CEO, The Health Plan

·      Patrick Ferrell, president and owner, Service Pump & Supply

·      Duane Zobrist, CEO, Resort Outfitters

·      David H. McKinley, president and managing director, McKinley Carter Wealth Services

“The majority of businesses that exist in West Virginia are small- to medium-sized businesses,” Deskins said, “so we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the small business climate in our state. We can examine what is working and what isn’t working for small business, and we’ll hear from firms that comprise that small business sector or are in direct contact with them every day.”

Faucher is senior vice president and chief economist of The PNC Financial Services Group, serving as the principal spokesperson on all economic issues for PNC.

Prior to joining PNC as senior macroeconomist in December 2011, Faucher worked for 10 years at Moody’s Analytics (formerly, where he was a director and senior economist. He was responsible for running the firm’s computer model of the U.S. economy, edited a monthly publication on the U.S. economic outlook, covered fiscal and monetary policy, and analyzed various regional economies. Previously, he worked for six years at the U.S. Treasury Department. Named to his current role in April 2017, he is frequently cited in international, national and regional media outlets including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Thrasher is a Harrison County businessman who founded Thrasher Engineering in 1983 with his father. Since that time, the company has grown to nearly 400 employees with locations in five states. Then-Governor-elect Jim Justice announced in December 2016 that Thrasher had accepted the Commerce Secretary position. Thrasher oversees the West Virginia Development Office, the West Virginia Division of Energy, the West Virginia Division of Forestry, the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, the West Virginia Division of Labor, the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the West Virginia Division of Tourism, WorkForce West Virginia and the West Virginia Office of Economic Opportunity.

Attendees will receive the West Virginia Economic Outlook, the annual forecast that tracks county and statewide indicators such as jobs by industry, labor force, population and personal income. They will also receive presentation handouts from all speakers.

The BBER will host four other regional economic outlook conferences throughout the state as follows:

·      New River Gorge Area Economic Outlook Conference, Beckley, Oct. 12, Tamarack

·      Wheeling Area Economic Outlook Conference, Wheeling, Oct. 18, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino

·      North Central West Virginia Economic Outlook Conference, Fairmont, Nov. 8, West Virginia High Technology Foundation at the I-79 Technology Park

·      West Virginia Eastern Panhandle Economic Outlook Conference, Martinsburg, Nov. 15, Holiday Inn Martinsburg

To register for the Oct. 5 event in Charleston, visit For further information on the WVU College of Business and Economics, follow B&E on Twitter at @wvucobe or visit

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