Fernandez responded that Congress is trying to change that, with legislation pending.
"We know we have to take the cycle time down on this," he said.
Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., attended Thursday's roundtable.
Rockefeller noted that the site of the meeting -- at the South Charleston research park that Dow Chemical Co. donated to the state last year -- could play an important role in economic development in West Virginia.
"The investment we make now in research and education will yield invaluable returns down the road," Rockefeller said.
Kevin DiGregorio, director of the Chemical Alliance Zone trade group, noted that the tech park has pilot plants -- formerly owned by Dow and Union Carbide -- which companies could use to test products before manufacturing them on a larger scale.
"What we know how to do is the commercialization stuff," DiGregorio said. "That's what we need to compete. It's really important that we keep that going."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.