Roanoke Region Helps Virginia Earn Top State for Higher Education Honor

Virginia Tech Carilion

Virginia is the top state for higher education, according to personal finance website SmartAsset in its third annual ranking.

And the Roanoke Region helped push the state to the top of the list in a major way with 25 colleges and universities within a one-hour radius including Virginia Tech, Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke College, Hollins University, Virginia Military Institute, Washington and Lee University, and Liberty University. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, which is home of the world’s most ambitious study of the brain, 21 research teams, and 140 researchers, is located in downtown Roanoke. It has announced an expansion that will double the number of research teams on campus.

(You can find the full list of area colleges and program descriptions here.)

Total higher education enrollment – undergraduate, graduate, and professional – in the Roanoke Region tops 104,000. On a per capita basis, the region has more college students than Austin, Boston, Raleigh-Durham, and other well-known centers of higher education.

Smart asset Virginia

SmartAsset ranks states based on metrics such as undergraduate graduation rate, average net price, 20-year return on investment, and student to faculty ratio. According to SmartAsset’s research, Virginia’s graduation rate is 70 percent, student/faculty ratio is 15.75 to 1 and average price is $16,886.

From the key findings: “Virginia is No. 1. Each time we look at the best states for higher education, Virginia appears in the top 10. It ranked second in both the 2015 and 2016 edition of our analysis. But this year, Virginia took the top spot.”

Rounding out the top five were California, Delaware, Iowa and a tie between New Jersey and North Carolina. See the full ranking from SmartAsset.

Roanoke Region Job Growth Continued in 2016

Roanoke region at night

In 2016, the Roanoke Region of Virginia continued to grow jobs and its economy. The Roanoke metro saw employment grow by 1,200 jobs between December 2015 and December 2016, for a rate of growth of 0.7%, matching the rate of growth in Richmond and putting Roanoke ahead of the majority of metro areas in the state.

Average employment for the entire year is at its highest level since 2007.

Employment gains were mainly in education and health and finance/business services.

The region is poised for continued growth into 2017 and beyond with more than 1,400 jobs announced from projects under development such as Eldor Corporation, Virginia Community College System, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, and Deschutes Brewery.

Employment Change, December 2015 to December 2016

Charlottesville 113.5 116.7 2.8%
NOVA 1414.2 1443.7 2.1%
Winchester 62.5 63.7 1.9%
Roanoke 162.8 164 0.7%
Richmond 667.8 572.2 0.7%
Harrisonburg 64.7 64.8 0.2%
Hampton Roads 769.2 767.6 -0.2%
Lynchburg 104.1 103.7 -0.4%
Blacksburg 77.6 76.9 -0.9%
Staunton-Waynesboro 49.8 48.8 -2.0%

* December numbers in thousands of jobs.

Get to Know the Partnership Staff: Carrie Cousins

carrie cousins 
Carrie Cousins develops content and marketing materials for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. She is a designer, writer, and content marketer with more than 15 years of experience in the media industry. She’s also the voice of the Partnership online and on social media through channels such as Roanoke_Region and Get2KnowNoke.

Get to know Carrie in her own words.

What’s the best part of your job?

I get to tell a lot of stories about our region, visually and with words. One of the things that makes these stories so special is the people behind them; meeting new people and hearing why they live and play here is amazing. (And there are so many different things that draw people to the region.)

What’s the most played song in your playlist?

Desperation Song by Carbon Leaf. The aggressive beat just makes you want to sing along and stomp your feet. The Virginia-based band has been one of my favorites for ages and they’ll be back in the region this spring with an April show at the Harvester.

What super power would you like to have?

Is having a clone considered a super-power?

What are you reading right now?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The message of this easy read – everything in your house should “spark joy.”

Where’s your favorite place to play in the Roanoke Region?

I love our trails and the greenway system. I do a lot of running and mix up dirt and paved trails. There’s a shorter section of greenway in Salem (starting at Rotary Park) that I run regularly; year round there’s nothing like the breeze coming off the river. Some days the run is quiet and peaceful, just me and the dog in the pre-dawn hours, but other times the path is bustling with people of all ages — walking, running, biking, swimming, paddling, coming into the ball park – and it shows you what a community that loves the outdoors looks like.

Earth Fare Joins Grocery Boom in Region

earth fare roanokeEarth Fare announced plans to build a new grocery located in the Ivy Market development in the City of Roanoke. The Roanoke Regional Partnership assisted Harbour Retail Partners, the property development group, by providing data assistance and market information used to lure the new specialty retailer.

The new store will be located next to the new Mellow Mushroom and the Carilion Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences. The location is close to the South Jefferson corridor and the growing Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute and Carilion Clinic.

Roanoke has demonstrated a substantial market for grocers in the last few years with new entries to the market including Aldi, Lidl, and Walmart Neighborhood Markets. With news of Earth Fare, six new grocery stores have been announced in the Roanoke Valley in the last two years. 

Earth Fare will offer a full range of healthy and organic groceries, organic juice, coffee, and smoothie bar as well as ready-to-go and prepared foods including a salad bar, hot foods, pizza, sandwiches, and meals-on-the-go. The location will be Earth Fare’s first in the Commonwealth of Virginia.