West Virginia Schools Superintendent Jorea Marple, who also spoke Friday morning, said poverty "manifests in a way that impacts what we can achieve in schools," such as how healthy the child is and their test scores.
Marple said education earlier in a child's life is key to bring more businesses to West Virginia.
"We have a tough job in West Virginia, and that makes it even more important that we have a structure in place that will provide change," Marple said. "Entrepreneurship change can't wait until high school; we have to begin that in pre-K."
Today's West Virginians grew up when coal and energy companies dominated the state, Mazzio said. But now there "is a wide-open opportunity for small businesses" to fill that void back in, she said.
Innovative thinking is important for entrepreneurs, Mazzio said. "You can dream up ideas by yourself and you don't have to ask permission," she said. "You cannot just be a good doctor or teacher; we are all expendable unless we're constantly innovating and looking for new ways."
Many business owners today have failed at one time, she said. Mazzio listed big-time business owners who have failed, such as Tom Scott, co-owner of Nantucket Nectars, a beverage company, who lived in his van at one time; and Virgin Airlines owner Richard Branson.
"You can get back up," Mazzio said.
Mazzio showed guests a clip from "Lemonade Stories," a film she produced and directed, which featured Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank -- who was fired from his job before he founded his company.
"The best form of job security is being an entrepreneur," Mazzio said.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.