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Morgantown MSA Economic Outlook Conference to feature national economist and panelists on critical regional issues at March 2 event

An internationally recognized economist and the state’s leading economic analyst will present their respective economic forecasts on March 2 at the Morgantown MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) Economic Outlook Conference at West Virginia University’s (WVU) Erickson Alumni Center. The half-day event will also feature speakers on issues critical to the region, including Marcellus Shale development, transportation infrastructure and health care. The conference will begin at 8:00 a.m.

David A. Wyss, chief economist at New York-based Standard & Poor’s, will join Dr. George Hammond in delivering economic forecasts for the nation and region. Wyss is widely quoted in the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, and on CNBC, Bloomberg and CNN. He is responsible for S&P’s economic forecasts and analyses.

Hammond is associate director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) in the WVU College of Business and Economics. During the past 15 years, he has produced numerous forecasts and analyses of the state economy, as well as many of the state’s regional economies. He has provided briefings to the executive and legislative branches of state government and is often quoted in the state’s print and broadcast media.

“During the recent economic downturn, the Morgantown region fared reasonably well,” said Dr. Tom S. Witt, Associate Dean for Research and Outreach in the WVU College of Business and Economics and BBER director. “With a rebounding national economy, it’s important for business leaders to know what the forecast is for this region.”

The conference will also feature speakers who will address important components of the regional economy. J. William Austin, Executive Director of the Morgantown Monongalia MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization), will speak to federal and state transportation financing and its implications for Monongalia County’s transportation needs for the future. Tom Jones, President and CEO of West Virginia United Health Systems, will speak about the outlook for health care in this regional economy.

Dr. Witt, who plans and executes economic outlook conferences throughout West Virginia, will speak to economic development of the Marcellus Shale. Witt headed a study recently completed by BBER that documented the economic impact of West Virginia natural gas industry and Marcellus Shale development.

“The growth of the health care industry and the contribution of Marcellus Shale gas development will play big roles in our future,” said Witt. “Transportation infrastructure, on the other hand, may represent a constraint on this growth. This conference is an opportunity for both the private and public sectors to learn about the challenges and opportunities facing the Morgantown MSA economy.”