First MAP president sees Morgantown as “fertile soil.”
➼ Russ Rogerson has come home. The new president and CEO of the Morgantown Area Partnership grew up in Wheeling and graduated from Bethany College. He is the first leader for the new umbrella organization formed by combining the economic development and revitalization organizations in the Morgantown area.
Rogerson most recently served as head of the Iredell County Economic Development Corporation in Mooresville, North Carolina—an organization he formed by merging the two economic development agencies in the county.
“After graduation, I went back to Bethany and worked in admissions for a couple years,” says Rogerson. “I travelled the state, and I really got to know a lot about what makes West Virginia so great.” After Bethany, he moved on to Columbia Gas, working in gas transmission and public relations. The work sparked his interest in community development. “Obviously, you don’t do any industrial growth without having the gas company involved,” he says. “We were heavily involved, and I developed a passion for the process. I enjoyed community building and helping people move forward.”
Coming home, Rogerson sees great opportunity here for continued economic growth and success. “We want to be the best Morgantown we can be. All regions have their own personalities. We can learn from other places and benefit from their experiences, but this is our own journey,” he says. “Today, the biggest reason companies come to a location is workforce, and that’s why you’re seeing the growth of some of these nontraditional locations. The soil is fertile here, and we have a pipeline of talent through the university.”
A key to success in economic development is a shared, unified mission. Rogerson sees great opportunity based on current initiatives and a positive energy in the area. “We have a good product,” he says. “We have a great situation here, where Morgantown wants to do something different, and it can. Morgantown controls its own destiny.”
The Morgantown Area Partnership includes the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce, the Monongalia County Development Authority, the Campus Neighborhood Revitalization Corp., and the Morgantown Area Economic Partnership. The mission is to unify and streamline the work to create opportunities for new businesses, jobs, and investment growth in Monongalia and Preston counties.
Rogerson sees his role as “herding the cats” for the MAP board. “The new board is very representative, so I’m really excited. I’m very impressed with the talent and expertise in the room,” he says. “My role is seeing the vision and affirming the vision and giving it focus and purpose.”
Rogerson and his wife look forward to settling in Morgantown and being part of a growing and vibrant West Virginia community for many years to come.
written by Buddy Butler
photographed by Carla Witt Ford