By Gov. Joe Manchin

CHARLESTON -- Recently, I signed an executive order creating the 21st Century Jobs Cabinet of West Virginia.

Last week, I joined First Lady Gayle Manchin and Ralph Baxter, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Co-Chairs of the 21st Century Jobs Cabinet, to introduce members of this important Cabinet.

The 27-member Cabinet is a dynamic group featuring influential decision makers in West Virginia business, industry and labor; and state policy makers including members of the West Virginia Legislature, and leaders specializing in the areas of workforce development and public and private secondary and post-secondary education. This diverse group is committed to building a seamless education system that enhances and supports the state's job creation and economic development efforts, and their guidance and assistance will be critical as we work toward this common goal.

The 21st Century Jobs Cabinet will host "West Virginia Competes: A Global Vision for the 21st Century," a public forum Oct. 11 at Charleston's Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences. The forum will bring together business and community leaders across West Virginia with state government officials and national experts to discuss both overall economic trends and educational policy challenges for West Virginia in the New Economy.

The forum will feature two very distinguished national leaders in education and economic development: Emily DeRocco, Assistant Secretary of Labor, who specializes in workforce training and development issues, and Frank Levy, a professor of economics at MIT, who has extensively studied the ways in which computers and technology are changing the labor market. Their insights and expertise coupled with the knowledge from West Virginia leaders, will engage the forum participants in a statewide conversation about our education and economic development priorities for 2007 and beyond.

I would like to thank all of the members of the Cabinet for taking time out of their busy schedules to serve on this Cabinet and participate in this forum, because, working together, we are making a difference in the lives of future West Virginians.

West Virginia is competing not only with our neighboring states, but also globally. And, if West Virginia is going to be successful in the global marketplace we must equip our children and grandchildren with the skills needed to be competitive. We must be proactive and creative about meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities of this new economy. Our future depends on it.

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