West Virginia University has announced a $25 million gift from Brad Smith and his wife, Alys, in support of an economic development initiative and remote worker program.
Through the newly named Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, the gift will support efforts to target individuals from outside the state who can work remotely to leverage West Virginia's outdoor assets and boost the state's economy. To that end, the program seeks to attract talent to the state through a competitive application process, with preference given to outdoor enthusiasts or young families that can contribute to a more diverse, inclusive, and purposeful state-wide community.
"West Virginia will always be home, and I see so much possibility in its natural beauty," said Smith, who was born in Kenova and today serves as executive chair of the software company Intuit, which he led as president and CEO for eleven years. "With the right mix of creativity, collaboration, and resources, we can take advantage of those outdoor opportunities to welcome a new generation with the capability to revitalize the state's economy. We believe this investment will advance the state's efforts to become the 'Start-Up State', a model for the rest of the nation and the world to follow."
"This gift is a tremendous opportunity to not only launch the new remote worker program, but also build on the success of our existing initiatives, including Science Adventure School and Science Behind the Sport," said Greg Corio, assistant vice president of the Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative. "We collaborate with colleges and units across WVU like the John Chambers College of Business and Economics, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, WVU Medicine and WVU Extension Service to partner with communities [across] the state to build development programs, talk about outdoor recreation opportunities, and propel entrepreneurial and innovative ideas. I can tell you that there is already a great deal of excitement about what lies ahead, and we can't wait to illustrate the power that comes from combining the natural wonders of West Virginia with the innovative human spirit."