Intuit’s Smith says now is the time for West Virginia’s economic change

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia native on Thursday spoke at a virtual event on the Kanawha Valley’s economy, in which he stressed the importance of embracing change.

Brad Smith, the executive chairman of Intuit Inc., said now is the time to change West Virginia to attract people and businesses.

“As proud as I am of West Virginia and all of those people who invested in shaping me and contributing to anything I’ve ever accomplished, I believe the time has come for us to reimagine and transform ourselves,” he said.

Smith was the keynote speaker of the talk, hosted by the Charleston Area Alliance. Smith, a Kenova native, is also the co-founder of the Wing 2 Wing Foundation, which is aimed at increasing entrepreneurship and improving education in underserved communities.

The foundation in October announced a $25 million gift to West Virginia University for developing new programs on the state’s economy and recreational opportunities.

Smith said the state can transform the economy by embracing entrepreneurship, new forms of learning, remote work and changing preferences in living.

“Rural has become the new urban,” Smith added. “Recent studies show that millennials living in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago want to move to a more rural setting where they have shorter commute times, a lower cost-of-living, a stronger sense of community and be surrounded by outdoor activities they can participate in.”

Smith said the state has opportunities to attract new residents through the outdoor-economic collaborative.

Smith founded the Wing 2 Wing Foundation with his wife, Alys.