Maynard

Rockefeller

Roberts

CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday released the agenda for the 2007 Annual Meeting and West Virginia Business Summit.

The Chamber's three-day meeting will be held Aug. 29-31 at The Greenbrier Resort. The meeting is the largest gathering of business and government leaders, and last year's event drew in nearly 800 people.

This year's meeting will include speakers and panelists covering key topics such as economic development, taxation, Workers' Compensation, health care and legal reforms.

State Supreme Court Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard will be the opening luncheon speaker for the meeting on Aug. 29. Maynard will provide an overview of legal issues in West Virginia. He is one of two state Supreme Court Justices up for re-election in 2008.

Following his presentation, attendees will gather for the annual "CourtWatch" presentation, which will showcase key decisions and actions over the past year of the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Former Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin, now head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), will be a General Session speaker. Tauzin, President and CEO of PhRMA, will talk on Aug. 30. He is a former Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tauzin will discuss with state business leaders critical factors currently influencing health care costs as well as how medical innovation, some of which is occurring in West Virginia, will help to drive down future health care costs.

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., will be the speaker at the Thursday evening banquet. Also joining Rockefeller in providing remarks during the banquet will be Thomas Hoaglin, President, Chairman and CEO of Huntington Bancshares.

Among the key presentations set for the 2007 Annual Meeting will be one on how West Virginia stands regarding its business climate. On Aug. 30, the Chamber will host a symposium on economic development and business climate issues, and attendees will hear from two respected researchers -- Graham Toft and Mac Holladay.

"There's been a lot of talk about whether West Virginia has a bad business climate or a really bad business climate or whether the rest of the country horribly misunderstands us," Chamber President Steve Roberts said. "We're asking Dr. Toft, who has worked in many states, to do an objective, dispassionate report on how we're doing in West Virginia -- in particular in those areas that will really make a difference to West Virginians when it comes to the quality of life we enjoy here.

"In other words, are we 50th as Forbes says or 8th as another publication recently said?"

Roberts said developing an economic report card is a new project of the West Virginia Chamber. He noted that Toft is going to offer a preliminary report card at the meeting.

"A final report probably won't come out until October," Roberts said. "By waiting until this Fall, Dr. Toft can use the 2006 data so he and we will have the most up-to-date information available about West Virginia's economy."

Other presentations that will be provided during the 2007 Annual Meeting will be:

* "Tax Strategies to Grow West Virginia's Economy and Create Jobs"

* "West Virginia ... Four Years after Medical Malpractice Reform"

* "Workers' Compensation Reform – Past, Present and Future"

* "Global Warming – Looming Impacts on West Virginia"

Huntington Banks (www.huntington.com) is the event's Premier Host. Chesapeake Energy is the Grand Host, and Martin & Seibert L.C. is the Executive Host. Key sponsors include: BrickStreet Mutual Insurance, Steptoe & Johnson, The Greenbrier, Jackson Kelly, Spilman Thomas & Battle and The Dow Chemical Company.

For additional information about the meeting, please go to www.wvchamber.com.

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