This Is Why We Do What We Do

roanoke region economic strategy

We like to think we are ahead of the curve here in the Roanoke Region when it comes to the outdoors.

An article in Business Xpansion Journal this month proves how far ahead of that curve we really are.

It emphasizes the importance of the work we are doing at the Roanoke Regional Partnership and the Roanoke Outside Foundation in regard to showcasing our outdoor assets.

The outdoor strategy is one we’ve been cultivating in the Roanoke Region for more than five years.

Here’s a little of what the magazine had to say:

It referenced a study by the Outdoor Industry Association, on 10 outdoor activities – bicycling, camping, fishing, hunting, motorcycling, off-roading, snow sports, trail sports, water sports and wildlife viewing – outdoor recreation accounts for 6.1 million jobs in this country. To put that in perspective, that is more jobs than education, more jobs than transportation and warehousing, and more jobs than construction.

“Outdoor recreation is a major economic driver that needs to be nurtured, the report states. It’s resilient and increasingly important to the economic health of a city or a region.”

We agree. It’s been good for business in the Roanoke Region.

Companies, such as Deschutes Brewery, have cited the outdoors as one of the things that attracted them to the area. Further, major employers say the narrative and resources provided by Roanoke Outside are key part of attracting talent to the area.

Other recent research indicates that there are other secondary economic benefits. Gallup research indicates outdoor investments lead to a healthier population (and healthier workforce). And research from the Knight Foundation suggests communities that offer social opportunities, offer an openness, pleasant aesthetics and other factors that are associated with our regional approach to the outdoors are more successful overall.

It’s important to understand the bigger picture when it comes to the awesome backdrop we see here every day in the Roanoke Region. Mountains, rivers, and trails are more than just a great way to spend the afternoon, they are economic drivers as well.

Region Featured as ‘It Town for Paddlers’

roanoke river paddle canoe kayakThe Roanoke Region is a featured destination on the website for Canoe & Kayak magazine as “The It Town for Paddlers:” Rivers, Mountains, and Southern Comfort.”

The magazine features paddling hot spots along the James, Maury, Bullpasture, and Roanoke rivers, as well as creeks. And there was nothing but praise for the blueways.

From the article: “Roanoke, Virginia, snuggles on the southern flank of the Blue Ridge Mountains. To the north and west, there are parallel ridges framing long, lovely valleys. To the south and east, the land gently undulates. For the paddler, this means options: whitewater up to Class V, lazily meandering rivers, and pure flatwater paddling too.”

You can read about all the spots on the tour (and you’ll recognize plenty of locations) from Canoe & Kayak.

Want to get out on the water? You can plan your adventure at RoanokeOutside.com.

We’re Kind of a Big Deal Around Here

best of roanoke

When the Roanoke Regional Partnership embarked on a strategy to package the region’s outdoor assets into an economic sector that would attract people, investment and jobs, we knew we were on to something.

The recent results from the “Best of the Blue Ridge 2016” readers’ survey in Blue Ridge Outdoors – the know-all publication covering 10 states – is the latest indication that we’re on the right track. These results show that the community narrative of being one of the best outdoor communities in the United States has taken hold.

Places, businesses and people from the Roanoke Region stood above prestigious competition in a variety of categories. Here’s a rundown of the good news:

Best Place for Outdoor Singles to Live: Roanoke

“With in-town trails and greenway systems, vibrant farm-to-table and craft beer movements, not to mention a low cost of living, what young professional wouldn’t want to relocate to this mid-sized mountain town?”

Best Place to Raise an Outdoor Family: Roanoke

“Roanoke’s big city amenities and small town feel make life in the Star City safe, convenient, and far from boring.”

Most Inspiring Outdoor Person: Pete Eshelman, Roanoke Outside

“Though Pete Eshelman is largely known for his role in fostering outdoor opportunities in Roanoke over the last five years, his relationship with the natural world has been a lifelong one.”

Toughest Race: Blue Ridge Marathon, Roanoke

“There’s a reason they call this beast ‘America’s Toughest Road Marathon.’ Start at 7:30 in the morning and huff and puff your way over 7,430 feet in elevation change. But don’t worry — the views make up for the suffer-fest.”

Best Blue Ridge Festival: Go Fest, Roanoke

“For a jam-packed weekend of outdoor activities, demos, and live performances, head to The Star City in mid-October. This event is a must-do for any Blue Ridge lover, and with free bike shuttles and on-greenway access, there’s no excuse for you to not go outside and play.”

  • Best Appalachian Trail Section: McAfee Knob, Catawba
  • Best Biking Trail: Carvins Cove Trails, Roanoke
  • Best Waterfall: Cascades
  • Best Adventure Race: Wild Gear Chase (Go Fest), Roanoke
  • Best Running Event: Blue Ridge Marathon, Roanoke
  • Best Climbing Gym: River Rock Climbing, Roanoke
  • Best Outdoor Hangout: Parkway Brewing
  • Best Riverside Pub: Wasena City Taproom, Roanoke
  • Best Outdoor Shop: Walkabout Outfitters, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Lexington
  • Best Yoga Studio: Uttara Yoga, Roanoke
  • Best Vineyard: Chateau Morrisette
  • Best Burger: Jack Brown’s Burger Joint
  • Adventurer of the Year: Gordon Wadsworth
  • Best Triathlon: On the Trails Triathlon

Runners up

  • Best Flatwater: Smith Mountain Lake
  • Food & Drink:  Texas Tavern
  • Bike Mechanic: Chris Heslin (UnderDog)
  • Coffee Shop:  Sweet Donkey
  • Best Running Store: Fleet Feet Sports, Roanoke

Honorable mentions

  • A.T. Thru Hiker: Kathryn Herndon
  • Physical Therapist: Tyler Bowersock
  • Rowdiest Fest: GO Fest
  • Swimming Hole: Cascades
  • Paddling River: James River
  • Best Waterfall: Crabtree Falls

You can see the complete list – and how we stack against other communities – from Blue Ridge Outdoors.

Summer Showcase of the Roanoke Region

Roanoke Best TownWhat are your plans for the rest of the summer? You can have a noteworthy time spending your time at these attractions getting attention around the U.S. from right here at home.

MSN Travel and Cheapism recently named Smith Mountain Lake the top lake in Virginia in a ranking of the “Best Lakes in All 50 U.S. States.” You’ll have fun boating, wakeboarding, fishing, golfing, and even stand-up paddling.

The Roanoke Region also picked up major props in an Outside Magazine photo gallery with eight of “The 50 Most Amazing #BestTowns2015 Photos.” The scenes capture some of the best the region has to offer and will surely make you want to try a new dish or hit the trails.

And before you head back home, stop by Texas Tavern or The River and Rail. Chef Aaron Deal and The River and Rail captured a spot on Southern Living’s “100 Best Restaurants in the South.” The TT Cheesy Western made Thrillist and The Daily Meal as a must-try burger.