There is an increased focus on manufacturing, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development at the College of Business and Economics. From the creation of a Supply Chain Management curriculum (as an area of emphasis in the Department of Management) to B&E's collegiate and high school business plan competitions, and from a burgeoning Brick Street Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship to a vibrant Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER), things are happening in these areas at B&E.
That is exactly why B&E Milan Puskar Dean Jose "Zito" Sartarelli and BBER Director John Deskins were invited to speak at the Manufacturing Leadership Summit at Glade Springs Resort in Daniels, West Virginia, earlier this month. Hosted by the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, Sartarelli and Deskins were among speakers that covered subjects such as business, energy and international trade.
These two gentlemen were the perfect fit for this conference, as the rebirth of manufacturing is taking shape in West Virginia and across the U.S. Before becoming dean at B&E in 2010, Sartarelli was a top executive in a pharmaceutical industry deeply entrenched in the philosophies and practices of manufacturing. Needless to say, he is familiar with the subject matter.
"I spoke about manufacturing, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development," Sartarelli said. It was a great opportunity for us to engage with people who are manufacturing in West Virginia.
"Manufacturing provides high wages, increases in productivity, and it's the backbone of the middle class. The re-launch of manufacturing in West Virginia will bode well for the state."
Sartarelli said B&E should take on the challenge of helping the state bolster entrepreneurship and economic development as it relates to manufacturing.
""The rebirth of manufacturing is 'Job One.' It creates value and transforms into useful products and services. We've seen the 'hollowing out' of manufacturing in the U.S., which is not good for the middle class. Manufacturing is critical to the base of the economy," he said.
Sartarelli pointed to an important statistic about West Virginia: 40% of all West Virginia exports are manufactured products. He also noted that, globally, economic successes in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China have been driven by manufacturing.
From an energy perspective, Sartarelli emphasized that there is huge wealth in natural gas. "Rather than simply extracting it," he said, "it can be used in manufacturing to create businesses, jobs and true economic development. Natural gas transforms into plastics, for example, through manufacturing."
The dean also stressed that educational programs have to be an integral part of the plan for the future of manufacturing. That future, he said, could be a game-changer.
"The rebirth of manufacturing in West Virginia would mean the rebirth of the middle class in West Virginia."