RICHWOOD, W.Va. -- For Thomas Frey, keynote speaker at the Create West Virginia conference, every problem creates an opportunity. The future is ours to create, he said.
Frey is just one of many speakers at the Create West Virginia conference focused on generating innovative ideas to provide communities with a sustainable economy.
"All industries end," Frey said. "They get replaced by something else."
The conference, in Richwood, runs Thursday through Saturday.
More than 100 people gathered into Richwood High School's auditorium to hear Frey talk about areas of "catalytic innovation" that would create new industries in places where people have the will, drive and capacity to embrace the challenge.
Catalytic innovations such as electricity, automobiles and planes created thousands of jobs across the world. New innovations will do the same, Frey said.
"It's the convergence of digital and physical," Frey said.
With these evolving industries, such as programming, big data, 3D printing, atmospheric water harvesting, commercial drones, driverless cars, micro colleges and business colonies, Frey said the key is human capital and not geographic location.
"This is not science fiction even if it sounds like it is," Frey said. "Individuals can do this separately. You don't have to work together."
Richwood's mayor, Robert Johnson, is open to ideas to move his town forward.
"It's simply impossible to generate economic stability by one's self and we need ideas from everywhere," Johnson said. "I think a whole lot of minds are better than a small handful."
Johnson added that he has the same operating budget he enjoyed while mayor in 1988.
He's hopeful the Create West Virginia event will leave a lasting impact on the community.