Bringing Brownfields and Technology Innovation Together
TechConnect’s mission to promote innovation-based economic development and redevelopment of the state’s brownfields go hand-in-glove, Anne Barth noted in an address to the annual West Virginia Brownfields Conference. Excerpts of her remarks follow.
Technology innovation and brownfields redevelopment are both part of the redevelopment puzzle in West Virginia. In many ways, both address the legacy of West Virginia’s strong manufacturing heritage. Those in brownfields redevelopment address the issue of site rehabilitation, making it possible to repurpose industrial and commercial sites for new ventures to grow. With a shortage of flat land in our beautiful mountain state, we need every possible potential site, including and perhaps especially those that have been put to work before.
TechConnect’s mission is to promote economic diversification by targeting technology growth and developing a more robust entrepreneurial culture. When everyone could go to work for someone else—at the plant, the mill, the factory, or the mine—entrepreneurial capacity suffered. So although West Virginians are known as a people who have always been able to do anything with our hands, we’ve often used those talents for someone else.
Encouraging entrepreneurship, and all that goes with it–including the possibility for failure–requires a cultural adjustment. TechConnect is working to grow an entrepreneurial spirit in West Virginia, by highlighting success stories and supporting an innovation ecosystem in which start-up ventures can thrive.
As those working in brownfields face challenges in identifying technologies for water purification or soil remediation, for example, I urge you to look “near” first. It may be a problem that our subject matter experts in West Virginia—either at the research universities or federal labs–can help to solve.
So TechConnect’s mission and the brownfields’ mission go hand-in-glove. Any way you slice it, your work and our work creates jobs, increases the tax base, opens up new opportunities for our citizens, and improves our communities.