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Michael Pless is eager to tackle the project of building a West Virginia presence on Second Life.

The Charleston information technology specialist is founder and owner of Edutech and contracts out work for West Virginia State University. He has been in talks with community and education leaders about developing islands for various West Virginia interests.

If Leadership West Virginia gets its Second Life project launched, the intent is that West Virginia’s island will be built by community college students, taking a coding class led by Pless or others. “While we’re building the island, we can train the students how to develop and freelance their virtual world coding skills anywhere in the world, while living here. It opens up the world to West Virginia.”
Pless discovered this for himself. Three years ago he left a lucrative job in New York to join his girlfriend in West Virginia. Pless braced himself for a pay cut. But when he sat down to work out a budget, he was pleasantly surprised.

“I went from paying $1,600 a month in rent for a one-bedroom apartment to $400 in rent for a two-bedroom. That’s a huge jump for me. I’m like, ‘Oh, wow. I can afford a lot more on a lot less!’”

After his first year in West Virginia, he said, “It seemed like all the doors started opening up, and when they did, they opened pretty fast. Now I’ve got tons of people calling me.” As in his case, Pless believes Second Life could help “the kids understand that you don’t have to leave West Virginia to make money. I can be doing business with someone in California or overseas online. It all can be done from right here.”