July 2021
Marc Nelson Named City Economic Development Director
Marc Nelson
Following a competitive nationwide search, Marc Nelson has been named Director of the Economic Development Department for the City of Roanoke, effective July 13, 2021.

Nelson holds an MPA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BA in history, also from UNC Chapel Hill. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Roanoke College Management Institute. Nelson currently serves as Manager of the Department of Economic Development, and served as Special Projects Coordinator in the same department from 2011 to 2019.

Prior to his work with the City, Nelson worked over six years with the City of Savannah Georgia serving in the Development Services Department as Development Services Liaison and Public/Private Development Coordinator. He also served as Budget Analyst for the Justice and Public Safety Section of the State of North Carolina Office of Budget and Management for two years.

“Marc has been a valuable asset to the City’s economic development initiatives, and we are pleased to have him take the helm for this department, as Roanoke continues its work to attract and expand the businesses in our Community,” said City Manager Bob Cowell. “We are fortunate to have his leadership.”

Nelson replaces Rob Ledger who will retire from the director's position in July after 12 years with the City of Roanoke.

During Ledger's tenure, the City consummated numerous property dispositions including two former community recreations centers, the former Commonwealth of Virginia building, Historic Fire Station #1, Warehouse Row and the former Gill Building today known as the Regional Accelerator & Mentoring Program (RAMP) along the Roanoke's Innovation Corridor.

Ledger played a significant role in many major Roanoke developments working closely with the Roanoke Economic Development Authority, and leading numerous prospect visits from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDA) and the Roanoke Regional Partnership. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority and the acquisition of the Wood Haven Technology Park, a joint municipality-owned 111-acre planned technology park located at the junction of Interstates 81 and 581. Lastly, his attraction and retention efforts include the retention and expansion of United Healthcare in Roanoke, Advance Auto Parts, PowerSchool, Midland Credit, AEP's engineering division and the attraction of Deschutes Brewery, WVS Companies (The Bridges development along S. Jefferson Street), Windsor-Aughtry (developers of the Downtown Hampton Inn & Suites), and FedEx Ground.

Ledger also served on a number of boards during his time with the City including Downtown Roanoke, Inc., Council of Community Services, Virginia's First Regional Industrial Facilities Authority and the Western Virginia Regional Industrial Facilities Authority,
Western Virginia Workforce Development Board Receives Funding for Nine New Community Health Worker Positions
The created positions will assist with community COVID-19 efforts.
The Western Virginia Workforce Development Board - in partnership with Carilion Clinic, United Way of Roanoke Valley and the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health District - has received a $414,938 federal grant to assist with area COVID-19 efforts. The funding will be used to create nine new community health worker positions.

Community health workers will assist with COVID-19 education, vaccination efforts and address social determinants of health issues amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The positions will be administratively managed by Carilion and reimbursed through grant funding.
RAMP is pleased to announce that applications are now open for our fall cohort to begin in September 2021. We are looking for technology startups with scalability, and coachable entrepreneurs who have a desire to do the work. 

RAMP will select up to five companies for the 12-week cohort that provides:
• Expert 1:1 mentoring with the region’s top entrepreneurs and executives
• Free office space with high-speed internet in downtown Roanoke in Virginia’s Blue Ridge
• Access to venture capital
• $20,000 in equity-free funding
Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge is setting the stage for groups and meetings business, to welcome back in-person and hybrid meetings to the Roanoke Region.

Meetings and events will play a critical role in bringing teams back together in-person and charting a course for the future. Re-imagining the hospitality and infrastructure with creative meeting sets and hybrid technology helps optimize healthy and hygienic practices, while providing a setting that stimulates collaboration and innovation.

With the installation of a $480,000 investment in renovations, infrastructure, and equipment, Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center has created an inspiring meetings environment to safely achieve maximum potential in a mixed live and virtual attendance during the recovery phases of the pandemic and beyond.
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission Names
RIDE SOLUTIONS Interim Director
Tim Pohlad-Thomas
Tim Pohlad-Thomas has been named Interim Director of the RIDE Solutions Commuter Assistance Program. Starting July 1st, Tim will lead operations of the program while the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission seeks a permanent Director.

Tim has served as the Outreach and Communications Specialist for RIDE Solutions since February of 2017, where he has been helping commuters find alternative transportation options, including biking, walking, carpooling, and transit.

Applications are being accepted for the position opening through July 9th.
Spotlight on Business
Mast General Store
Opened in the Height of the Pandemic, Mast Store Celebrates
One Year in Downtown Roanoke
Guess what. We opened our newest “old” location during the height of the pandemic. We were asking ourselves, “Have we gone mad?” There were so many hurdles to jump and challenges to overcome, but we had a great staff and everything was in place and ready. 

And it’s been open for a year now. My, how time flies when it’s getting back to normal.  

The old Heironimus Department Store building was one of the most talked-about landmarks in Downtown Roanoke. And sometimes not in a good way. The structure with almost 90,000 feet of available space was both an opportunity and a curse. It was called a “white elephant,” “an albatross,” and a waste of good parking space. In some ways, it’s a miracle that it is still standing at all. It was set for demolition sometime after 2005, but an error in the paperwork saved it from the wrecking ball. 
Virginia Tech scientist awarded NIH grant to study CASK-related severe brain disorder
Sarika Srivastava, a research assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, will use a more than $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the underlying mechanisms of epileptic encephalopathy caused by a loss of CASK gene function. (Clayton Metz/Virginia Tech)
For children diagnosed with severe and debilitating epileptic brain disorders, the prognosis is often grim. Babies born with a rare form of CASK-linked epileptic encephalopathy called Ohtahara syndrome suffer seizures soon after birth. There is no treatment or cure, and children with the disorder typically don’t survive beyond infancy. Those who do have severe neurological, cognitive, and behavioral impairments.

Sarika Srivastava, a research assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, believes the loss of CASK gene function could cripple the ability of brain cells to produce much-needed energy and trigger the progressively worse seizures.
ROA Continues to See Rebound in Passenger Traffic
May 2021 traffic increased 27% versus April 2021
The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport saw a 27% increase in May 2021 traffic versus April 2021. May 2021 saw 41,350 passengers fly via ROA compared to 32,398 in April 2021, an increase of 8,952 passengers or 288 more passengers flying each day.

Leisure travel continues to rebound with schools dismissing along with graduations which drives traffic up.

"Passengers are more comfortable with the measures taken by the airports and airlines to ensure their safety, stated David Jeavons, interim executive director of the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission. Lower overall airfare has stimulated leisure demand, and as airlines rebuild their schedules, it is critical to use our current service not only to keep it but also to have more restored and help our regional economy recover. Air service will be even more important when our business customers return to the sky. We continue to appreciate the community support for choosing ROA and not driving out of the market to fly."
Carilion Clinic Roanoke Memorial Hospital Expansion
Exciting progress is on the way!
Check out this great video capturing the kick-off of construction on the future Crystal Spring Tower at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The 400,000 square foot expansion is the future home of the Cardiovascular Institute and an expanded emergency department.
Interested in a new job?

Virginia Tech is actively searching for essential positions. To learn more about available career opportunities, click below.
Don't forget...BizRoanoke is on RVTV Channel 3!
BizRoanoke is a monthly television program highlighting economic activity and programs within the City of Roanoke.

Tune into RVTV Channel 3 to learn more, access it on our website at 
www.BizRoanoke.com or click below for our most recent shows featuring 

The City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development is on Facebook and Instagram! Please "like" or "follow" us today!
Check it Out!

City Owned Available Property
The City of Roanoke has a variety of properties available for acquisition, including existing buildings (as available) and buildable sites. Proposals for these properties must be approved by Council and must be submitted to the City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development. 

For more information on available properties and the proposal process, please visit the links below:

Upcoming Training and Events
For additional events, workshops and resources, click here!
We are excited to be back in-person for TechNite 2021 and to be celebrating during GameChanger Week

TechNite is the annual celebration of the Roanoke – Blacksburg region’s technology community. It’s an opportunity to network with more than 500 leaders in business and innovation. The evening includes a keynote speaker and awards presentation to celebrate the leaders, innovators, and successful companies within the regional technology community. This historical event is made possible thanks to our sponsors, members, board of directors, and staff.
Keynote Speaker: 
Michael Rihani, Tesla

August 26, 2021
The Inn at Virginia Tech
901 Prices Fork Rd
Blacksburg VA
5 PM