Roanoke & New River Valley: Virginia’s Rural Economic Gems on Track

The history, geography, diversity and one of the most successful and growing business and education partnerships anywhere make Virginia’s Roanoke and the New River Valley a model for growing a sustainable Rural Economy.

A wave of educational, medical and economic growth is  forecast to erupt in the region amid job creating projects like the recently announced $90 million expansion of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and just-resumed Amtrak rail service to Roanoke, the latter a sure sign the area is a destination for entrepreneurs and investors.

“It puts an exclamation point on the work the McAuliffe Administration has done to build the New Virginia Economy through multi-modal, competitive travel options for all Virginians – an economy that’s more diversified and better able to create jobs and opportunities,” Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane explained.  “The Commonwealth’s impressive rail system includes 3,037 miles of track serving Virginia for more than 150 years. Rail connects the Port of Virginia, businesses and cities to other major population centers in the U.S. and beyond. It creates a vital economic link and is the foundation for 21st Century growth.”

The region is emerging as high-tech belt in a bucolic setting with an affordable cost of living. There’s plenty of real estate and the growth along with the Affordable Care Act is spurring massive job opportunities in the health and wellness sectors.  New ventures like computer-related hardware and software manufacturing, renewable power start-ups and even industrial hemp research projects are tapping into the existing production, agricultural and energy cultures, offering a sustainable economy for all of Southwestern Virginia.

Not surprisingly, the word is out on Roanoke and the New River Valley. Forbes and others list the region as one of the best places in America to do business.

It’s impossible to ignore the  commitment the state has made in the last four years to the region have put it one path to lasting and innovative success. Obviously now is not the time to turn off the path to growing a successful Rural Economy for Roanoke and New River Valley.

“While we have brought down the unemployment rate in Virginia and Rural Virginia,” said Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a former Army doctor who graduated from the Virginia Military Institute, “if you travel to the Eastern Shore where I am from, or the Southside or the Southwest, we still have work to do.”

“Just like we do from the Roanoke region through southwest Virginia, we understand what it’s like to live in a rural area and a lot of people do feel left out,” said State Senator John Edwards.

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