|Roanoke Regional Partnership looking for matching funds (Dan Smith photo).|
At the kick-off event held at the Vinton War Memorial, campaign co-chairs Nancy Agee, CEO of Carilion Clinic and John Williamson, III, chairman of RCG Resources, says that the private sector campaign already has raised $2,205,750, or 74 percent of the private sector goal, from 43 businesses.
Through a program of work that includes business attraction, asset development and image building supported by these funds, the Partnership’s goals include creating 3,245 higher wage jobs and bringing in $200 million in capital investment to the area. “The next five years will be critical for the future of the Roanoke region,” says Agee. “We have an opportunity to capitalize on the region’s growth, promote new business alliances, and share the story of the exceptional quality of life that we enjoy here.”
Williamson says that as the economy emerges from a major recession, the region must redouble its efforts to capitalize on upward momentum by attracting high paying jobs in target industries, including food and beverage, transportation equipment, mechatronics, outdoor recreation, and life sciences.
“Economic development is a process, not a project,” Williamson says. “It takes patience, it takes perseverance, it takes funding, and most importantly it takes proactive and thoughtful leadership. But our region is fortunate to have academic research institutions, a productive workforce, central location, advantageous cost structure, and abundant natural amenities that will carry it forward in the coming decades.”
Although founded in 1983, the Partnership is launching only its second organized campaign to stimulate private investment for promoting the region. In 2007, a similar effort funded a strategy that resulted in 24 business locations and expansions in the region, resulting in $88 million in new investment and 1,508 new jobs and a total economic impact of $642,710,597 (IMPLAN).
In addition to business development, Partnership efforts began branding the region as an outdoor mecca by creating events such as the Blue Ridge Marathon and initiatives such as RoanokeOutside.com.
Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership, notes that population growth was one of the goals of the 2007 campaign. Since 2007, the region has seen steady positive growth in the numbers of young adults ages 24-34, reversing earlier trends. The annual compounded population growth rate has improved from 2001 through 2010.
“Through public and private investment, the Partnership makes a difference that is felt though out this region,” says Doughty. “We have had success during the past five years despite a negative economy. Now is the time to build on this success and recommit to significant growth by 2017.”