Shepherd MBA program hosting summit on economy

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — The Shepherd University MBA program is hoping a daylong summit it’s sponsoring will provide guidance on how West Virginia can pull itself out of the current economic crisis.

The summit, "Reinventing West Virginia: Respecting the Heritage and Realizing the Future," will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 18, in the Frank Center Theater on the Shepherd campus. The cost to attend is $39.

Keynote speakers will be Linton Wells II, managing partner of Wells Analytics LLC and a former principal deputy assistant secretary of defense; and Patrick Morrisey, attorney general of West Virginia.

The event will offer four one-hour forums that will address topics relevant to economic growth in the state: energy, education and technology, tourism and marketing.

“This is an opportunity to take a day to dig more deeply into issues that impact the state’s economy,” Chip Zimmer, assistant professor of business administration and MBA Graduate Program coordinator, said in a news release.

"Energy’s Role in Reinventing West Virginia" will be facilitated by Fred. T. White, senior director, public sector of ABS Consulting in Arlington, Va. The forum will explore how the state can safely use its energy resources to grow the economy and help improve the state’s image. Panelists will be John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University; Chris Hamilton, executive vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association; and Scott Freshwater, president of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia.

"Education and Technology’s Role in Reinventing West Virginia," facilitated by Mary J.C. Hendrix, president of Shepherd University, will look at how the state can better educate its workforce and improve its technology infrastructure. Panelists will be Michael Hieb, research associate professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va; Robert Chuey, managing partner at LSP Data in Washington, D.C.; and Chris Kyle, vice president for industry affairs at Shentel in Charles Town, W.Va.

"Tourism’s Role in Reinventing West Virginia," facilitated by Rick Pill, an attorney with Pill and Pill PLLC, will explore how West Virginia can strengthen and develop its tourism industry. Panelists will be Stephen Hilliard, chief executive officer of Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, W.Va.; Sarah Guyette, marketing manager at Snowshoe Resort in Pocahontas County, W.Va.; and Dennis Frye, chief historian at Harpers Ferry (W.Va.) National Historical Park.

"Marketing’s Role in Reinventing West Virginia" will be facilitated by Jim Lees, an attorney with Hunt & Lees LC, in Charleston, W.Va. The forum will address how West Virginia can enhance its image and better promote what it has to offer. Panelists will include Susan Lavenski, CEO/owner of Charles Ryan Associates, Charleston; Dan McGinn, CEO of McGinn and Company of Arlington; and Rex Repass, CEO of Repass Research of Cincinnati.

During the final session, "Repositioning West Virginia’s Future," Gordon DeMeritt, associate professor of business administration at Shepherd, will lead a discussion on the innovative, outside-the-box ideas generated in the four forums and will address the question of what’s next.

Once the forum is finished, five students in Shepherd’s MBA program will produce a white paper through Shepherd’s Center for Regional Innovation that will go to all the participants and be posted online. It is hoped the paper will provide a road map for the next summit.

For more information about the summit, go to or email Zimmer at