Business Partners Newsletter
February 2018: Volume 18, 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 .
Reimagine Roanoke County

Roanoke County is kicking off two new plans to "reimagine" Oak Grove and Hollins this spring! These plans follow the 419 Town Center study which began in 2016, and continue to focus on two of the Roanoke Valley's busiest commercial corridors. The Oak Grove Center Plan includes collaboration with the City of Roanoke.

Surveys for both studies will be available on the plan webpages and open from Thursday, February 1 to Saturday, April 7. Each study will offer two community meetings in March. In addition, planning staff are  working closely with Roanoke County Public Schools to gather student feedback and investigate potential student-led projects to incorporate in the plans.

Reimagine Oak Grove

Oak Grove Logo"In 2040, what does Oak Grove look like to you? How about a place to eat, shop, entertain and connect all within a short, comfortable walk? Roanoke County and the City of Roanoke are developing plans to make it easier for Oak Grove's residents and visitors to get to the parks, shops, restaurants and amenities that they pass by every day. Share your ideas to shape the future of this community and help build a walkable and dynamic center in Oak Grove."

Possible scenario The Oak Grove Center study covers 173 acres and more than 80 commercial and residential properties, including Keagy Village and Oak Grove Plaza in the County, and Southwest Plaza in the City. 

The Hollins Center study area is more than two and a half times larger at 465 acres stretching from portions of Williamson Road, Peters Creek Road and Plantation Road up to Interstate 81.
About Us
General Inquires
P: 540-772-2069
F: 540-772-2030
Economic Development 
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.


Reimagine Hollins

Hollins Logo "Imagine a Hollins where people come to learn, work, dine and stay all in one place. Do you picture a premier location for new businesses, an entertainment hub for local and regional visitors, an eating and shopping destination accessible by foot or by bike, or something different?  We are developing plans for a connected, mixed-use center in the heart of the Hollins community. Share your ideas and help shape the future of the new Hollins Center." 

Possible scenarioAlthough the studies will run concurrently, each plan will present a unique vision for the areas that reflects both the community's input and market opportunities. Like Reimagine 419, both studies will include analysis for multi-modal transportation and mixed-use development. Community meetings will be held on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings in March and May (visit the webpages for more information).

The studies are planned to run through 2018; after plan adoption staff will begin implementation.

New Sports Tourism Initiative Lauches in the Virginia's Blue Ridge

Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge Launches a New Regional Initiative to Capture More Sports Tourism

Capitalizing on the regional success as a well-established sports destination, Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge (Visit VBR) officials officially announced the formation of VBR Sports "We are upping our game," touted Landon Howard, President of Visit VBR.  "Developing a stronger, regional sports identity under the direction of a VBR Sports Council along with a Director of Sports Development will allow our five localities to attract far more diverse sporting events (such as tennis, wrestling, archery, ice hockey and disc golf just to name a few) and grow the region's travel and tourism industry," added Howard. 

VBR Sports will focus on presenting the entire region as a desirable place to host a multitude of new sporting events that will provide for a superior athlete and fan experience, "Working together with local sports organizers to host various competitive sports will generate a stronger economic impact and put VBR Sports on the map on a much broader scale," explained Bree Nidds , Director of Sports Development for Visit VBR.  For more details go to

ATTENTION: Last Call for Entrepreneurs

Do you have a business idea, or existing business, that you would like to grow? Register for The Gauntlet! The Advancement Foundation will be hosting the 4th Annual Gauntlet Business Program & Competition- the largest business program and competition in Virginia! If you want to learn about starting a business and entrepreneurship, or have an existing business and would like to expand, register TODAY for The Gauntlet. Anyone can participate in the classes, ranging from high school students to adults, competitors have to start or expand their businesses in Roanoke County, Botetourt, or the Alleghany Highlands to win cash and prizes ($250K)! Classes will be held once a week, every Tuesday, starting February 6, 2018, $45 a month for 3 months, from 6:00pm - 7:30pm, at your choice of location- the Vinton War Memorial or Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.

Quote from last year's 1st place winner Wingman Outfitter (seen in the photo):
 "What started as a something we were going to force ourselves to do in an effort to learn, quickly became something we enjoyed doing. Being placed in a room full of fellow startups brought us to the comforting realization that we were not alone in this "at times" relentless battle of entrepreneurialism. This program forced us to dig deep and gave us the direction to fine tune our business plan."

It's not too late to register!
Classes Start February 6, 2018

6:00 PM 
Vinton War Memorial

Register at For more information checkout  - contact - or call (540) 283-7062! Gear Up for The Gauntlet!

Roanoke Outdoor Asset Assessment Coming Soon

The Roanoke region has a solid base of credentials in outdoor assets, which have been proven to positively influence business and talent attraction.

That's why the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Outside Foundation are working with Boulder, Colorado-based GreenPlay LLC to conduct a regional needs assessment for investment in outdoor and livability assets. The survey included online polling, focus groups, and stakeholder meetings.

Here's a preview of survey results showing the most frequently visited assets:
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (65%)
  • Urban Trails/Greenways (59%)
  • Walking/Hiking Trails (52%)
  • Neighborhood Parks (48%)
  • Appalachian Trail (45%)
  • Carvins Cove (43%)
  • Explore Park (27%)
Stay tuned for the final report which will include resource mapping, investment priorities, implementation strategies, and key public and private partners throughout the Roanoke region.  

Roanoke Regional Partnership Turning its Attention to Talent Attraction
In November 2017, the Roanoke Regional Partnership brought on Erin Burcham as the full-time director of talent solutions to increase the region's talent pool.  Just as we helped develop outdoor assets into an economic sector and a new community narrative, we are turning our attention to leveraging our talent assets into fuel for growth. 
The Roanoke region and its businesses are in a competition for that talent.  Overall regional employment is at an all-time high and initiatives such as the Roanoke Innovation Corridor make the need even more acute.  Add natural demographic shifts (there are almost 40,000 people in the Roanoke region workforce over 55) and it gets harder to keep up. Businesses know they have to compete not just wit other companies but with other parts of the   country to attract and retain the best employees.

This region is rich in other assets and perhaps the example of how the outdoors is paying off is the launching point for recognizing and developing them all.  Take higher education for example.  The 100,000 + students at 25 colleges and universities within a 60-mile radius of Roanoke County are a  huge asset that can be leveraged for further economic success.  To be sure, every school has long demonstrated economic impact through salaries, expenditures, and in other ways.  But consider the economic impact that their most important asset - the students - can have on our region.

Events: Business Tools for Growth

Marketing in 2018

Business Smart Start
February 6

February 13

OSHA Compliance Training
Various Dates in February & March

Sharing Knowledge & Building Community: An educational series for beginning farmers and ranchers
4 Part Series Begins February 15

Scams and Identity Theft

Social Media
February 28

April 18
Gig Economy Speaker:    Diane Mulcahy

March 5 
5:30-7:30 PM

March 13
5:30 PM

Other Happenings


Evolution HR cuts ribbon on Roanoke County location

Evolution HR held a ribbon cutting event on January 26, 2018 at their location on Electric Road with the help of the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce. Evolution HR is dedicated to increasing your value in the market as an individual or an organization. Contact them for your employment needs.

Evolution HR
3846 Electric Road
Roanoke, VA 24018

Roanoke County Detective Betsy Van Patten honored at Roanoke Regional Chamber Annual Meeting

Due to her determined investigations and actions on these cases, Detective Betsy Van Patten has been recognized as the Roanoke County Police Department's Chamber Officer of the Year during the 128th Annual Meeting of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. Detective Van Patten was able to stop over $200,000.00 of fraud from leaving the Roanoke Valley.  In addition, countless people were spared becoming victims with the recovery of credit cards, computers and other devices.  

Detective Betsy Van Patten accepting her award from the Chamber's 2017 Chairman Nathan Kerr (left) and Brian Baumgardner with LewisGale Regional Health System (right).

Workforce Development
Come and Explore New Skills at VWCC in Spring 2018!

Virginia Western Community College's Workforce is offering a full-range of Healthcare, Manufacturing and Businesses classes for the Spring of 2018! Check them out and invite your friends to register! 

Reduce costs!  Please note that the cost of our Workforce courses can be reduced significantly with current grants.
  • For individuals, please contact our Workforce Student Services team for criteria and screening. They can be reached at (540) 857-6076 or by email at
  • For employers, funding may be available to reduce the cost of training, in some cases as much as a 90% reduction in costs. For more information, contact Morgan Romeo with the Virginia's Blue Ridge Works at (540) 562-8442 or
Note that grant funding requires some information sharing and takes some time to work through. Please get started as soon as possible!

If you have questions about the program itself, feel free to give me a call. For reduced costs, please contact Workforce Student Services or Morgan Romeo listed above. 


Roanoke County Economic Development receives AEDO

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) announces that the Roanoke County Department of Economic Development has once again been recognized as one of 60 economic development organizations accredited by IEDC as an Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO). Originally accredited in 2004 , the Department was reaccredited by IEDC following 13 successful years of activity as an AEDO member.

2017 Marked the 8th Consecutive Year of RECORD Growth for Virginia's Blue Ridge Tourism

A report released this week indicated Virginia's Blue Ridge experienced a RECORD 3.8% increase in hotel room revenue during calendar year 2017 according to STR, Inc. The total revenue was $105,218,901 or an increase of $3,824,223 over 2016. These hotels sold a RECORD 1,226,221 rooms, an increase of 34,232 rooms sold or a 2.9% increase over 2016. "The travel and tourism industry plays a key role in economic development and growth in the region, providing a positive brand image positions Virginia's Blue Ridge for continued growth," stated Landon Howard, President of Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge.

2017 Passenger Traffic Continued to Grow at ROA in December

December saw the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport post a 2.8% increase in passengers on a year over year basis. Year to date traffic at the airport has increased 1.3% compared to 2016. For the full year of 2017 616,365 passengers flew via ROA compared to 608,288 in 2016 and 598,606 in 2015. 2017 was the busiest year at ROA since 2013 when 619,284 passengers flew ROA.

Strong community support, additional capacity, and improved airline operational reliability have all played roles in the continuation of sustained passenger growth, which began in September of 2016. December 2017 saw 2.8% growth over December 2016.

Hollins Introduces Online Graduate Program in Teaching and Learning

Hollins University is launching a new Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (MATL), an online graduate program for licensed PreK-12 educators who wish to grow their teaching skills for the benefit of their students, their school, and their career.

The MATL is designed for teachers who want to learn more about the practice of teaching; acquire and develop new knowledge; develop curricula in collaborative teams; and assume leadership roles within a school and/or school system.

"Men and women admitted to the program will have the opportunity to work with accomplished faculty in the areas essential in today's continually changing landscape of PreK-12 education: writing, inquiry, instructional design, assessment, leadership, technology, and contemporary issues in education," said Lorraine Lange, director of the MATL as well as the Master of Arts in Teaching and the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies graduate programs at Hollins. 

Bringing Bikeshare to Roanoke County

Bikeshare by RIDE Solutions is seeking sponsors to expand its successful bikeshare network into Roanoke County. Sponsorships help the network grow into new communities and to reach new members, establish better connections between neighborhoods and valuable commercial and activity centers, and supports the Roanoke Valley's growing reputation as a great place to be outdoors.  Sponsor benefits include: b rand recognition on the bicycles, b rand recognition in the Zagster app, d iscounted membership benefits for employees and customers, a  special residential sponsorship program for property managers, providing free membership to tenants of multi-family properties, and f ull station sponsors receive recognition on the station, five bicycles, and have the option to choose the location of their sponsored station.

Currently, Bikeshare by RIDE Solutions consists of 13 stations and 65 bicycles, has registered nearly 2,000 users and logged over 5,000 trips. Three more stations are planned for March, and RIDE Solutions hopes to expand to Roanoke County, Salem, and Vinton by late spring.

More information and a map of existing stations can be found at and

Virginia International Trade Events

Virginia has received $255,000 in grant funding to support the Commonwealth's State Trade and Expor t Promotion (STEP) Grant Program. The STEP program, funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, is designed to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and to raise the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting. This year's grant will be administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership's International Trade Division. 

The State Trade and Export Promotion Grant (STEP) is designed to increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and to increase export sales for those small businesses that are currently exporting. The program is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
By providing export assistance, we help smaller businesses generate new export revenues and create new jobs for Virginia.

  • Funds may be granted for travel to international markets on trade missions, exhibiting at trade shows, or your own company's international sales trips.
  • Reimbursement: 75% of pre-approved airfare and hotel room fees up to $3,000 per company for travel to foreign markets.
  • Proof of performance (booth pictures, meeting schedules, sales meeting reports, etc.) will be required for reimbursement.
  • STEP grants are awarded to eligible small businesses that meet the U.S. SBA's definition of a small business and who self-certify their eligibility.
  • Applications are processed and awarded on a rolling basis until all funds are expended. Approved activities must be completed by September 28, 2018.
For more information, to determine eligibility or to request an application contact:
Roger Porter, International Trade Manager
Virginia Economic Development Partnership
220 Roanoke Boulevard, Salem, Virginia 24153
Tel 540-387-2562; Cell 540-588-6820

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.

United Kingdom & Ireland
Peru and Chile
April 16-20, 2018
April 23-27, 2018
Registration Deadline:  February 18 , 2018
Registration Deadline:  February 23, 2018
Top Opportunities:    Medical Devices & Technologies, Construction, Renewable Energy and Green Technology, Aerospace, Convenience Foods and Snacks, and Information Technology/Cyber Security
Top Opportunities in Peru:  Electronic commerce, Energy and electricity, Food processing and packaging equipment, Industrial chemicals, Medical equipment, Mining Industry Equipment, Plastics, and Safety & Security
Top Opportunities in Chile: Auto Parts, Construction, Electric Power Equipment, Environmental Technologies, Healthcare, Mining Industry Equipment, Safety & Security, and Water Resources
Learn More
Property Spotlight: Gish's Mill - Holdren's Country Store

Roanoke County Business Partners Show on RVTV

On this mont h's show, we learn how Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia is helping to prepare the workforce of the future. We introduce Alex Jones, a graduate of Hidden Valley High School and programs at the Burton Center, who is now a Planner in Roanoke County's Community Development Department. He will explain his role in the upcoming Hollins and Oak Grove planning studies. Finally, we recognize Dr. Levicki, former President and CEO of Delta Dental of Virginia for his 36 years of service to the company and the role he played in their growth over the years.