He wants to see more women and under-represented minorities in STEM and wants to see research continue to drive innovation.
The cultivation of the state's natural gas industry was also discussed.
"This river of natural gas flowing beneath our feet provides opportunity," said Mark Hager, senior legislative representative for The Williams Company. "How we capitalize and use the opportunity lies before us."
He urged attendees to focus on the development of the entire Marcellus Shale region, including neighboring states, for mutual shared benefits. Again, Hager cited regulatory uncertainty as the biggest roadblock for capitalizing on spin-off manufacturing industries in the state.
"Regulatory certainty doesn't mean I don't comply with the law," he said while he was talking about investing in future projects. "But I need to know what the rules will be 10 years down the road when I go apply for a permit."
In a later session, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey went a bit further.
"We know West Virginia is still not as competitive as it needs to be, from a business perspective," Morrisey said. "We know that if you look around to all the states West Virginia touches, we have the highest combined individual and corporate tax rate."
He cited Forbes magazine listing West Virginia as the 45th best state for business. He also noted that 36 percent of the state's budget comes from a more-than-ever-before crash-strapped Washington.
"West Virginia has to supercharge its economy in order to position itself effectively for the future, but to do that, we're going to need a radical transformation of the state's economy," Morrisey said. "We're going to have to make some major changes within the next year or two."
Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.