September 2020
City of Roanoke Offers Grants for Small Businesses
The City of Roanoke has established a $1 million Grant Fund to support small business recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. One-time grants from $1,250 up to $12,000 are being provided to offset business impacts during the pandemic. The grant program is administered by the City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development. If you have any questions, please contact Economic Development at (540) 853-2715 or email:

Click here for grant guidelines and application.
Doughty Announces Retirement After 22 Years
Beth Doughty will retire in December as executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership "RRP" after 22 years. She joined the Partnership in 1990 as marketing director and was executive director from 1992-1999. 

After serving as president of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce from 1999-2008, she rejoined the Partnership for the past 12 years. She is a past president of the Virginia Economic Developers Association, received its Cardinal award, and was named three times as one of the top 50 economic developers in North America by Consultant Connect.

“It has been an honor to work for the Partnership, lead its evolution, and work with a talented and committed team,” said Doughty. “I have been motivated every day by the many ways this organization makes a difference.”

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we thank Beth for not only her dedication to the organization but also her leadership in designing and implementing a modern, holistic regional economic development program that is seen as a model in Virginia,” said Partnership President Victor Iannello. RRP has organized a search committee to find a new executive director.

During Doughty’s tenures, the Partnership's approach has evolved from strictly business recruitment to a more comprehensive program of economic and community development. Business recruitment efforts resulted in attracting Bimbo Bakeries, Dynax, Arkay Packaging, Mack Trucks, Balchem, Eldor Corporation, Traditional Medicinals, Deschutes Brewery, Constellation Brands, and others to the region.

The Partnership launched Roanoke Outside in 2009. This effort redirected the region’s livability narrative and created large events such as the Blue Ridge Marathon and GO Fest to build an economic sector in outdoor recreation, outdoor business, and adventure tourism.

In 2017, the Partnership launched Get2KnowNoke, a talent attraction and retention strategy that has built a talent pipeline between the greater region’s 25 colleges and universities to local businesses. Get2KnowNoke programs include on-campus and out-of-market promotion, the summer Experience Leadership Institute, professional development and networking events, and an annual talent summit.

The Partnership was instrumental in the formation of the Western Virginia Regional Industrial Facility Authority in 2013 which brings together six governments to jointly develop business parks. The authority’s first project is the Wood Haven Technology Park in North Roanoke County which is jointly owned by Roanoke County and the cities of Roanoke and Salem. 

“Fortunately, we have a talented staff that executes a phenomenal number of programs to the highest standards,” said Doughty. “The organization is in a good place to continue to make a difference.”
City of Roanoke, VA
Offering Financial Counseling as a No-Cost Public Service through the Roanoke Financial Empowerment Center

It has been over a month since The City of Roanoke, in partnership with the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) and Freedom First Enterprises, announced the opening of the Roanoke Financial Empowerment Center (FEC). The FEC offers professional, one-on-one financial counseling and coaching as a no-cost public service to every interested adult in the Roanoke area. Everyone can benefit from learning more about how their money works and counseling is available to all residents, regardless of household income. FEC counselors help individuals and families manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products.

To schedule an appointment, please visit If you need further assistance, please email, or call (540) 427-6811.
Due to concerns with COVID-19, all one-on-one financial coaching sessions will be conducted over the phone.

Correction: The previous edition of BizNews ( August 2020 ) included a non-working link to the Roanoke FEC web page. Please use this link:
Luna Innovations Outfits Fiber on Smart Bridge in Italy 
Paves the way for Advanced Monitoring System 
and Digital Twin-Ready Capabilities

Luna Innovations Incorporated (NASDAQ: LUNA), a global leader in advanced fiber optic-based technology, recently announced that it has partnered with CETENA and GHT Photonics to help design, build and implement a full-scale, fiber-optic structural health monitoring system for the recently re-opened Polcevera Viaduct bridge, which is a critical traffic artery for the city of Genoa in northern Italy. 

The innovative bridge, which is over a kilometer long featuring 19 spans, is equipped with an advanced health monitoring system based on a network of Luna’s HYPERION® measurement systems and advanced fiber optic sensors installed by Luna’s integration partner GHT photonics. The system will monitor the structural response of the bridge, as well as conditions including the number and weight of vehicles, water stagnation, weather and other important variables helpful for bridge monitoring, control and inspection. The sensors installed on the infrastructure will capture the data necessary to create a digital twin of the bridge, that reproduces all the viaduct’s physical characteristics, in real time.   

“The re-building of this bridge was a national priority for Italy and stands as a symbol of progress for using our fiber in all smart infrastructures.  Luna is proud to partner with disruptors like GHT Photonics and CETENA to work on this significant and historic project,” said Scott Graeff, President and Chief Executive Officer of Luna Innovations.  “Our alliance has helped pave the way for innovative growth in how we operate, inspect, monitor and manage all infrastructure in the future.”

CETENA guided the development of groundbreaking software, Cymon, that connects to the Luna fiber-optic sensing system for data acquisition, analysis, and comparison with bridge design data and storage. “The goal of the structural monitoring system is to ensure that the condition of the bridge can be monitored closely, consistently and continuously,” said Paolo Ceni, CEO of CETENA. “By assessing in real-time the bridge conditions and correlating them with load factors, any maintenance or operational needs will be addressed swiftly so the working performance and safety of the structure and passengers will be ensured. In the next stage, acquired data will offer the possibility to construct a digital twin of the bridge and to review structural loads and environmental factors with augmented reality (AR) technology, in which CETENA has acquired deep experience in the maritime and naval simulation field.”

In order to meet the demanding requirements for micro seismic monitoring and operational modal analysis (OMA), Luna provided best-in-class fiber-optic interrogators and instrumented the entire bridge with an extensive network of fiber-optic accelerometers, the only optical solution available on the market that fit the project’s OMA requirements.  Combined with Luna’s HYPERION® instrument platform, the os7500 family of accelerometers can be easily distributed and synchronized with other sensors.  The fully fiber-optic solution, which forms the basis of an internal “nerve” network for the structure, was easily deployed across the large structure and is now ready to be centrally operated, producing data critical to the health and maintenance of the structure for decades to come.

Luna Innovations Incorporated ( headquartered in Roanoke, VA is a leader in optical technology, providing unique capabilities in high-performance, fiber optic-based, test products for the telecommunications industry and distributed fiber optic-based sensing for the aerospace and automotive industries. Luna is organized into two business segments, which work closely together to turn ideas into products: a Lightwave segment and a Luna Labs segment. Luna’s business model is designed to accelerate the process of bringing new and innovative technologies to market.

CETENA SpA (, is the engineering and technical consultancy and R&D center of Fincantieri Group, operating both in the traditional fields of maritime and naval engineering (structures, hydrodynamics, safety, sea trials, ship performances) and in transversal ones (monitoring systems, simulation and augmented reality environments, green energy technologies, air and underwater noise emission reduction). CETENA is organized into several Business Units working together to develop advanced consultancy services and products, based on knowledge, applied R&D, experimental laboratories and on-field experience.
Spotlight on Business
Something different is stirring in downtown Roanoke and it’s a movement like no other. 

Valarie Angle and Jonathan Roberts are the Co-Owners of The WellNest Roanoke. In business since March, the two new entrepreneurs are determined to do business differently. 

“We both have a huge heart for people and I have always had a driven, ambitious, stubborn spirit. Dozens of people have told us that they wished something like The WellNest Roanoke existed downtown...or anywhere for that matter! But, so far nobody has had the drive, patience, or time to create a business like this.” The two want to make holistic wellness accessible, affordable, and familiar; to help everyday folks integrate wellness practices into their lives.

The WellNest Roanoke has an intention of ‘filling in the wellness gaps’ that exist downtown while also promoting, supporting, and marketing many local and downtown businesses that are wellness-related or supportive. To this end, WellNest will offer a multidimensional gathering space featuring a cafe, mercantile, and a mindful movement studio, as well as meditation space, and provider offices. In addition to the spaces, Valarie plans to collaborate with dozens of local and national experts to offer seminars, workshops, professional development, corporate wellness programs, conferences, and retreats alongside her tribe of varied providers.

“We have community members from Australia to Texas to New York City! It’s really amazing!”

Valarie and Jonathan also want to create residual income for early supporters. “We’re not in this to get rich, but rather to share what we feel is a rich blessing in our lives--wellness and security.” The WellNest membership model pays back investors for their support and nurtures young holistic entrepreneurs in expanding their business and reaching their downtown customers. 

“As I did market research, I interviewed dozens of people who had tried to get wellness-related businesses going downtown on their own. Very few have seen success. You see models like the West Salem Healing Center and The Haven on 5th working in the outskirts, but it is just so expensive and complicated to do that downtown.” Without the motivation of supporters behind us, we wouldn’t have gotten off the ground at all. Now, there is so much momentum and desire in the community, we couldn’t stop if we wanted to."

Valarie feels her background in education administration has equipped her for the task of bringing The WellNest Roanoke to life. “Though we are still negotiating our space, we have been actively building community, providing opportunities for gathering & education, and marketing online for months. We are beyond excited to get situated and realize the big picture that we’ve envisioned. For now, we just feel lucky and honored to be cogs in this movement to recognize individual uniqueness in Roanoke’s citizens and help grow wellness among them. There is so much room for positive community growth and we can see from the past months that Roanoke is more than ready for it!”

To learn more about the WellNest Roanoke, visit or email
ROA Passenger Traffic Continues Rebound 
July traffic up over June at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport
The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) saw an increase in July 2020 traffic of 55% over June 2020 with 21,029 passengers flying ROA in July, a 7,463 passenger increase over June. This increase equates to 240 more passengers flying each day, as ROA entered Phase Three of reopening related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the airport realized improvements in month-to-month traffic, traffic in July was still down 65% from July 2019. Despite the year over year decrease, the downward trend bottomed out in April and passengers are now returning to the airport for travel.

“We are pleased to see the passenger traffic rebounding this summer,” stated Timothy T. Bradshaw, A.A.E., executive director of the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission.  “Passengers are confident in the measures implemented by the airlines and airport to ensure the safety of passengers. We hope to see this upward trend continue into the fall as the pandemic threat diminishes. As airlines rebuild their schedules for the new demand environment, it is critical to use our air service to keep it and help our economy grow. We continue to appreciate the support of our community choosing to fly ROA and not driving out of market to fly.”

The Commission continues to work with the airlines to maintain air service for the region. ROA is open and operational with enhanced cleaning protocols in place, as with the airlines, making air travel as safe as possible. The commission sincerely thanks customers for choosing to fly ROA.

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is the primary airport for Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the New River Valley.  ROA serves over 719,000 passengers per year via 4 airlines (American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and Allegiant Air) with nonstop service to 5 hub cities (Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago-O’Hare, Philadelphia, and Washington-Dulles) as well as weekly flights to Orlando Sanford International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

To learn more, please visit  
Maury Strauss 2020-2021 public lecture series kicks off at
Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

This year's Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture Series features Bonnie Bassler (top left), Ayanna Howard, Irene Tracey, Anita L. Allen, A. Oveta Fuller, Michael Young, Christine Stabell Benn, and Emery Brown (bottom right).
You’re not paranoid. There really is a conspiracy against you – a very tiny one.

Bacteria, including harmful strains, wait patiently inside the body until their numbers multiply, before they launch a cooperative attack against their host’s cells.

Understanding how bacteria communicate with each other helps scientists learn how to disrupt their conversations and stop infections, according to Bonnie Bassler, the Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology and chair of the department of molecular biology at Princeton University, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Bassler described how bacteria synchronized their actions via a phenomenon called “quorum sensing” on Sept. 3 as the first speaker in the Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture series, hosted by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke.

Bassler’s lecture, “Tiny Conspiracies: Cell to Cell Communication in Bacteria,” was held virtually via Zoom.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, at least the first four public lectures this fall will be presented virtually. Registration details to view the lecture will be available on the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute website.

“The speakers at this year’s Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture series are the kind you might expect in research capitals like Boston, New York, San Francisco, or London but we are bringing them to Virginia Tech,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech. “As we begin the season, these science thought leaders and innovators will be in town virtually, so we want to make sure they experience the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and Roanoke area as if it were an in-person visit. We are counting on the community of people who have faithfully followed the speaker series since it began in 2011 to connect with us online and keep our momentum going.”
Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge knows safety should be part of the experience for visitors, businesses, and local residents in the surrounding VBR region. As we continue to work together to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to join our Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge as a commitment to keep each other safe and healthy.

The pledge follows recommended guidelines from the CDC and public health officials, and helps us create an environment of safety while we enjoy the businesses and experiences that make Virginia's Blue Ridge a special place. 

We've made the pledge available in a variety of formats and resources that you can use for your own purposes. This should be an easy tool to use and provide consistent messaging for the region. Start using the Stay Safe Pledge Toolkit
You can simply download, print and post on your door or post on your website and social media. 

We encourage all businesses and individuals to commit to the Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge as a way to work together to ensure the health and safety of our community.
Interstate 81 Interchange Lighting
After years of attempting to improve the safety of Interstate 81, there is now a proposal to light interchanges at Exits 137, 140, 141, 143, 146 & 150.
Lighting at these Interstate 81 interchanges would promote the reduction of nighttime crashes, would keep our residents safer when commuting and increase tourism in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Interchange lighting creates a safer environment through greater visibility for travelers passing through the interchanges and greater appeal to motorists to patronize businesses and attractions.
Interested in a new job?

Virginia Tech is actively searching for essential positions. To learn more about available career opportunities, click here!

If you are interested in getting more employees to bike to work, and make it easier for employees who already make that choice, give us a call at 540-342-9393 or email Jeremy Holmes, RideSolutions Director at You can also download the RIDE Solutions app to your mobile device or register at to get a jump start on your own bike commuting adventure.
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 or follow this link to our most recent show: 

The City of Roanoke Department of Economic Development is on Facebook and Instagram! Please "like" or "follow" us today!
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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
Join the
Roanoke Small Business Development Center
for the following opportunities!

To learn more or register,
call (540) 632-1174 or
visit Roanoke Small Business Development Center on Facebook!