Business Partners Newsletter
February 2019: Volume 19, No. 2
The E-newsletter of the Roanoke County Economic Development Department is designed to showcase the investments and achievements of our existing business partners. For additional information about doing business in Roanoke County, visit our  website .
Another Gauntlet Competitor Makes the News!
Dustin McCarty Turns Hobby into a Thriving Business with the Help of The Gauntlet Business Program and Competition!  
About Us
General Inquires
P: 540-772-2069
F: 540-772-2030
5204 Bernard Drive, SW 
Room 421 
PO Box 29800 
Roanoke, VA 24018
Jill Loope
Administrative Assistant
Mission Statement
To attract and facilitate the growth of innovative businesses, jobs and population that increase taxable investment and ensure sustainable world class community resources. 

Broadband Authority Triggers Entrepreneurial Solution to Broadband Service in Rural Areas  

Homegrown entrepreneur brings high-quality residential broadband service to rural Bent Mountain

When local Bent Mountain resident, Eathan Gleiner, got tired of waiting for someone else to solve the rural broadband challenges of his community, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Recent Roanoke County investment and the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority's open access model made the new business possible. The residents of Bent Mountain all stand to gain.
On Thursday January 24, 2019, Roanoke County officials  gathered with Bent Mountain entrepreneur, Eathan Gleiner, to celebrate the launch of MtnNet, a new residential internet service company built specifically to bring reliable, high speed, wireless broadband to one of the most digitally underserved parts of the Roanoke Valley.
Upon launch, the new wireless internet service is prepared to serve about 125 homes, approximately one quarter of all Bent Mountain residences, with expansion plans already underway. MtnNet will initially offer speeds up to 25 Mbps.
Many of the homes in the new service providers coverage area previously lacked access to any affordable and reliable residential broadband services.
"Roanoke County has 250 square miles of beautiful suburban and rural land area. However, getting coverage to some of the more remote parts of the region has been incredibly difficult historically. We are absolutely thrilled to see MtnNet and the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority partnering to help make this happen," Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Chair Phil North said.
"The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors has been making a number of strategic investments to enhance both the livability and economic viability of the community. This is something for which all residents can be proud. I am honored to be a part of ensuring that wireless high-speed broadband service is available to the Bent Mountain Community.  It's very exciting to have so many community partners who are similarly committed to that same vision," Windsor District Supervisor David Radford added.
Is Your Innovation-Driven Company Ready For High Growth?  
On March 5th Hollins University will host the HireHollins Employer-Talent Showcase
Hollins University Career Center Partners with One of the Nation's Top Networking Platforms for Students
Tired of the trying to find employees through the same old methods of career fairs and online postings?

On March 5th Hollins University will host the HireHollins Employer-Talent Showcase.  To learn what makes this event so different click here.

Sheyonn Baker
Manager, Career Center Events and Promotions
Hollins University 

Virginia Western Community College names student center for  
the Maury and Sheila Strauss family 

$1 million Donated to the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Appoints TMEIC's Donn Samsa to
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee
U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, recently announced the appointment of 39 members to the Departmen   t 's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC), including TMEIC General Manager of    Renewable Energy Business in North America, Donn Samsa. 
"It is essential for the United States to remain a global leader in the innovation, commercialization, and production of diverse technologies," said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "The foreign competitive challenges confronting American companies are immense, and the recommendations of the REEEAC will be critical in our continued efforts to ensure global markets are free, fair, and reciprocal."
Initially established in 2010, and most recently renewed in June 2018, the REEEAC is composed of senior private sector representatives that provide advice to the Secretary of Commerce on the development and administration of programs and policies to expand the export competitiveness of U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services. Since 2010, the REEEAC has provided 56 recommendations to address a wide range of issues, from the creation of market conditions necessary for developing a strong manufacturing base to the closure of critical gaps in export financing.
"Enhancing the nation's renewable energy technology is essential for America to be a world leader in energy production," said Samsa. "I'm eager to have a part in advising the commerce department on policies that bring innovation to the U.S. renewable energy industry."
Since 2011, Samsa has led the growth of TMEIC's PV inverter business from its infancy to almost 3GW installed across the USA. An electrical engineer by training, his career has spanned several industrial applications for more than 37 years in power electronics, control and automation engineering. Samsa holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Cleveland State University and a Master's in Computer Science from Virginia Tech. 
For more information on the REEEAC, please visit: .

Congratulations to William "Billy" Driver, Director of Real Estate Valuation
for retiring after thirty-four years of service with Roanoke County


Officer J.L. Monson Named Salem-Roanoke County Chamber Police Officer of the Year 
Officer J.L Monson was recipient of the Roanoke County Officer of the Year Award from the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce.  
In 2018, Officer Monson was involved in more than 1,500 incidents, responding to 925 calls for service, 491 traffic stops, 264 traffic summonses and 142 warning citations. He also made 37 drug related arrests, 9 DUI arrests as well as 115 other arrests. As you might imagine, Officer Monson has one of the highest activity levels in the Uniform Division.
Officer Monson is looked up to by his peers for his narcotic enforcement work and knowledge of criminal activity in his area of responsibility. He is continually challenging himself to become more knowledgeable in all aspects of law enforcement and he accepts work assignments with a level of enthusiasm second to none. Officer Monson's enthusiasm and work ethic is a credit to himself, the Roanoke County Police Department and the citizens in our community. Congratulations to Officer Monson - our Roanoke County Officer of the Year.

Officer Wes Chesser Named Roanoke Regional Chamber Police Officer of the Year   
Officer Wes Chesser is a silent, passionate, unofficial leader and mentor among Roanoke County officers. He is a team leader on the Roanoke County SWAT team, a K9 handler and senior officer on the busiest shift in our department.
On 10/16/18 multiple officers responded to the 5200 block of Eden Ave in response to a disturbance and shots fired. Officers arriving on scene found one victim on the ground from an apparent gunshot wound and a second victim who was shot as well.
When Officer Chesser arrived on scene he took control of the scene ensuring the safety of the officers and victims. He organized the officers on scene moving them into positions of cover. He took up a position himself where he could maintain security on the suspect's believed location, yet continued to provided the on duty SGT continuous information all while maintaining a calm demeanor. POIII Chesser, quickly assessed the injuries to the victim on the ground, and had two officers move the victim closer to vehicles in the driveway in order to protect the victim.
Officer Chesser continued to organize an inner perimeter of the location as well as coordinated with rescue to have the victim still on scene checked by a medic.
Officer Chesser's tactical experience and quick thinking was vital to the smooth operation as well as the timely information that was provided to command personal. His extremely calm demeanor resulted in clear communication which allowed for a smooth transition to a SWAT operation and ultimately a criminal investigation.

Safety Training  

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport Report  

Passenger Traffic Continues to Grow at ROA
December traffic increased 4.5% year over year at the Roanoke-Blacksburg
Regional Airport as 2018 continues the trend of strong traffic growth.

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport continued to see traffic increase with December traffic up 4.5% on a year over year basis. December 2018 saw 52,498 passengers fly via ROA compared to 50,197 in December of 2017 an increase of 2,301 passengers. Year ending 2018 traffic was up 7.2% versus 2017, which equates to 44,471 more passengers. This past year marks the best year in terms of passenger traffic since 2007.

Strong community support, an improved regional economy and airline operational reliability have all played roles in the continuation of sustained passenger growth, which began in September of 2016. December 2018 saw 4.5% passenger growth over December 2017.
"We are very pleased to see this positive trend continue through 2018, especially given our strong traffic numbers in 2016 and 2017," stated Timothy T. Bradshaw, A.A.E., executive director of the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission.  "Passenger demand is a critical factor when speaking with airlines regarding improving and increasing air service to our region.  Our customers are using our existing air service and the carriers have taken note. We appreciate the support of our community choosing to fly ROA. Between our traffic growth and Small Community Air Service grant we are hopeful of obtaining additional air service".

The Commission continually works with the airlines to improve reliability, reduce airfare and upgrade equipment serving the region.  This has played a significant role in the increase of passengers using the airport.

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is the primary airport for Virginia's Blue Ridge and the New River Valley.  ROA serves over 660,000 passengers per year via 4 airlines (American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and Allegiant Air) with nonstop service to 6 (Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York LaGuardia, Philadelphia, and Washington Dulles) hub cities as well as weekly flights to Orlando Sanford International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. To learn more, please visit

Blue Ridge Beverage Expansion

The 43,000 square foot facility expansion is slated for completion in the Summer of 2019 


Save the Date

Virginia Tech Roanoke Center Opioid Datathon
February 22-23, 2019
For More Info
A Toolkit for 21st Century Leaders
August 23, 2019
Click to register

The Catawba Valley Farmers Market will reopen on May 9
Sales at this Market provide additional income for local vendors while making fresh, high-quality foods available to the consumers. Several special events and activities are planned for the 2019 season - details will be shared in the coming months.

Interested in becoming a vendor? Contact Ann G. Harrell, Market Manager, at (540) 864-5913 or email to
More information is also available at and on Facebook.

The Catawba Valley Farmers Market is a collaborative project of the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center, the County of Roanoke, the Catawba Ruritan Club and members of the Catawba Community.

Talent Programming

Talent Attraction Program: Working for You in 2019 
The Roanoke Regional Partnership is building tools that you can use to help attract and retain talent. It starts with, a website designed to speak to your potential workforce.
And then it extends to new events and programs designed to connect with college students, young workers, and mid-level employees across all fields. Here's what we are planning in 2019:  
  • Make summer internships better by helping you create the "stickiness" that makes your interns want to stay in the region after graduation.
  • Create a pipeline that connects college students to businesses in the Roanoke Region.
  • Put together Experience 2019, a conference to attract and retain young professionals.
  • Promote jobs and the benefits of the Roanoke Region lifestyle outside the market to attract in-demand professionals.
Workforce Development

Tuition Grants Available 

Virginia created FastForward, a grant that will pay tuition to help Virginians and boost the economy. Through training and testing, you can earn industry-recognized credentials in a variety of fields including: healthcare, logistics, skilled trades, IT, and education.
Upcoming Open Houses
February 19
May 21
July 16
Nov 19 
Contact us at 540-857-6076 or 

Come and explore new skills!
VWCC Workforce is offering a full-range of Healthcare, IT, Manufacturing, Business and Transportation classes 
for the Spring of 2019!  
Registration is now open - check out this link! Invite your friends to register with you!   
Contact our Students Services team for more information on class dates and financial assistance.

540-857-6076 or

Spring 2019 line-up for VWCC Workforce Manufacturing Courses  
The Machining Program  includes 4 courses from the beginning skills of precision measurement and safety all the way to CNC Programming!
  • Machining - Milling Operator - is scheduled to run 2/19/19 - 4/16/19 with classes meeting on Tuesday and Thursday nights 5:30-9:30. The Machining-Milling course offers instruction on both manual and CNC operated mills.  The pre-requisite is Machining Fundamentals or students can test out of Machining Fundamentals. For more information or to register.
  • Machining - Turning Operator - is scheduled to run 5/2/19-6/27/19 with classes meeting on Tuesday and Thursday nights 5:30-9:30. The Machining-Turning course offers instruction on both manual and CNC operated lathes.  The pre-requisite is Machining Fundamentals or students can test out of Machining Fundamentals. For more information or to register.
  • Machining Advanced will be offered once there is a pipeline of students.
Industrial Maintenance Program
Two courses in 20 weeks offered to gain both the MT1 (Manufacturing Technician 1) and the Siemens Mechatronics Systems Certification (SMSCP) Level I.  When students earn these credentials, they can sign up for the VWCC Mechatronics Program and will earn over 15 college credits toward that program! 
  • ­Basic Manufacturing Skills - to gain the Virginia Manufacturer's Association's MT1 credential, with class dates 2/11/19 - 4/15/19, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.  For more information or to register.
  • ­ Manufacturing Maintenance - is scheduled to run spring 2019 with dates 4/25/19 - 7/8/19, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, 5:30 - 9:30 p.m. Students completing the course will take the Siemens Mechatronics Systems Certification(SMSCP) Level I exam. For more information or to register.
There are also Introductory Welding courses: FCAW and GMAW. Check out the enrollment pages for more information.

Reduce costs! Please note that the cost of the Workforce courses can be reduced significantly with current grants. 
­  ­    
For more information,  
contact Amanda Decker with VWCC Workforce  
at 540-857-6279  
New at Explore Park  
Mountain Bike Center Coming to Explore Park  

 Explore Park keeps getting better all the time.
After the addition of camping and disc golf last summer, Explore Park will also get a Mountain Bike Center. This month, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors accepted a $323,484 grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Recreational Trails Program for the construction of mountain bike trails and a trailhead at Explore Park. This funding will be combined with a 25 percent match from Roanoke County, as well as capital funds and sponsorship revenue to build a destination facility.
The park will be built in three phases with the first expected to be ready in the coming summer. It will include 8,550 linear feet of new and rehabilitated mountain bike trails, plus a trailhead and parking area. Most of the trails will be single track with natural surfaces, but some will have optional skill features made of rock or other natural materials. The core skills area will contain several concentric loops of varying skill levels, including one beginner level trail with an aggregate surface.
This is pretty exciting news for mountain bikers of all levels in the Roanoke Region (the only IMBA Silver Level Ride Center on the East Coast).

Virginia International Trade Events
Trade Missions
Be part of one of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership's Trade Missions and enjoy private, one-on-one meetings with prospective customers and partners. These well-planned visits are business me etings set up on your behalf, with your input, to save you time and maximize your results.   
If you are interested in participating in a VEDP Trade Mission, please contact Roger Porter as there may be resources available to offset some of the associated costs. (Contact information above)
 Trade Mission to Germany & the Netherlands
 Apr. 29 - May 3, 2019
 Registration Deadline: March 1, 2019
Trade Mission to Brazil
May 20 - 24, 2019  
Registration Deadline:  March 22, 2019
Additional Trade Missions
Throughout the year
Shake Hands with Potential Customers...In their Country!
One-on-One Counseling Now Available!  
Are you looking for new avenues to grow your business?
Learn how you can provide your services and products to the State of Virginia
The Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), in partnership with Roanoke County Economic Development Department, will be conducting free one-on-one counseling sessions on how to access business development resources, State financing programs (VSBFA), including technical assistance for conducting business with State agencies through SWaM Certification and eVA (Virginia's Online Procurement Portal).
These 1-hour sessions are by appointment only.
No fee, but appointment is REQUIRED   to schedule an appointment

Regional Tourism Report
Virginia's Blue Ridge Tourism is On the Rise
Virginia's Blue Ridge lodging industry experienced a record 8.9% increase in hotel room demand during calendar year 2018, resulting in approximately 1.3 million rooms sold. In fact, Virginia's Blue Ridge recorded the highest percentage of growth for room demand in Virginia, according to STR, Inc. Room revenue grew by a record $7.5 million in 2018, totaling $112 million, an astounding 7.9% increase over 2017 . A record number of sporting events and meetings attributed to this significant growth in 2018.
"More jobs, more profits, and more tax collections clearly indicates that Virginia's Blue Ridge is being recognized as a mountain vacation destination," said Landon Howard, President of Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge. "Virginia's Blue Ridge is growing unlike ever before thanks to our 1,400+ industry partners and the investment support from the Cities of Roanoke and Salem and the Counties of Roanoke, Franklin and Botetourt. It's all about regional collaboration, generating more jobs and creating a greater return on investment."
Support regional tourism. Click here to view this video entitled "We ARE Virginia's Blue Ridge!"

Visit Virginia_s Blue Ridge

Roanoke River Blueway 

Roanoke County Business Partners Show on RVTV

In the latest Roanoke County Business Partners, we participate in the ribbon cutting for a new wireless internet service that will deliver quality internet access for residents and businesses located in the Bent Mountain area of the County. Next, we talk with Meredith Hundley, Program Director for the Valleys Innovation Council, and learn what the council's mission is and their new involvement with the Star Tank Summit. Finally, we meet with Thomas Osha, Keynote speaker for the Star Tank Summit and learn his perspective on how community stakeholders can work together to support an innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem.