There are big things on the horizon for the Roanoke Region. On Monday, Governor Youngkin announced additional grant funds for 21 business sites across the Commonwealth, three of which are here in the Roanoke Region.
The state announced $90 million in Virginia Business Ready Sites Program (VBRSP) grants to develop industrial sites throughout Virginia, $3.88 million of which going to sites represented by the Roanoke Regional Partnership. The selected properties include Alleghany Regional Commerce Center in Alleghany County, Wood Haven Technology Park in Roanoke County, and the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology in the City of Roanoke. Below is a breakdown of exact dollar amounts awarded.
Alleghany Regional Commerce Center: $3,290,00
Wood Haven Technology Park: $504,149
Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology: $85,000
The Roanoke Regional Partnership supported these applications which will improve regional site readiness throughout the region, thus, preparing sites to attract new business and make our region (and state) more competitive in the economic development landscape. The grant program sent representatives from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and professional site consultants to assess the potential of industrial sites which must contain a minimum of 100 contiguous, developable acres.
Partnership leadership recognizes the importance of real estate development in competing for new investment and expansion. Proof of that is Thrive 2027, the Partnership’s strategic plan, where a priority area is to support governments and developers in their efforts to develop real estate.
It’s the end of the year–the perfect time to reflect on the past 365 days while planning for the year to come. In our musings, there were some key data points that emerged this year that we consider significant wins. From economic growth and employment to migration and housing development, there are promising signs of growth for our region.
Here are five major wins from a year of monitoring and analyzing trends and providing best-in-class research services and thought leadership.
Real GDP increased 4.8 percent in the Roanoke market between 2020 and 2021, the largest increase in decades (and during a period in which 169 metro regions experienced slower growth). Key Takeaway: economic growth is at its highest level in decades.
Goods-producing employment is at its highest level in the Roanoke Region in 15 years, posting an 11-percent increase since April of 2020. Key Takeaway: employment opportunity has rebounded, and our strong workforce has answered the call.
Housing development is accelerating with numerous developments offering both multi-family and single-family options. Units authorized are up 33 percent since 2018 and are projected to remain at an elevated level through the years ahead by Moody’s Economy. Key Takeaway: people need places to live; housing development in the region will translate into future growth.
Costs of living and doing business remain advantageous in the Roanoke Region. In an environment of national inflation, the region’s cost of doing business is 18 percent below average and cost of living is nine percent below national average. Key takeaway: living, working, and doing business in the Roanoke Region is easy.
Overall, we have a lot to be thankful for and excited about. The region has shown its resiliency post-pandemic, forecasting promise for the years ahead. Our community is well-situated to benefit from growth and further investment in several ways– we have strong business sites designed and constructed to provide speed-to-market for more traded-sector businesses which contribute new wealth to the economy; we boast strong workforce and training programs to address workforce demands; and we have an ideal location providing access to more than two-thirds of the U.S. population in a day’s drive, and other advantages that distinguish the region. There are, indeed, many reasons to be bullish on the region’s future.
Sources: Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Moody’s Economy, and Council for Community and Economic Research
The Roanoke Region is looking for someone to help tell the region’s story of innovation, outdoor recreation, and talent attraction through content development. This part-time position (not to exceed 30 hours per week) is responsible for content creation and marketing support of all aspects of the Roanoke Regional Partnership program of work. Best candidate will have strong knowledge of electronic publishing, social media, website management, copywriting, and design. Position is temporary with an expectation of 12-month term of employment with a potential extension of another 12 months.
The position will report to the office for most hours worked with the exception of time spent at after-hours events. The position will report on a flexible schedule not to exceed 30 hours per week with the majority of hours worked during the typical business day.
REPORTS TO: Director of Marketing
WORKS WITH: Directors of research, talent attraction, and business investment; Senior Director of Creative Strategies and Executive Director.
Contribute content to RRP websites for effectiveness. Assist in maintaining current information including data, copy, photos, and graphics. Requires working with team members who provide/create data. Websites include:
Write and work with contributors to create e-newsletter content for the RRP Investor Insider (monthly Investor newsletter), Roanoke Outside Weekend Update (bi-weekly on Wednesday mornings), Get2KnowNoke, Developer’s Insights (email marketing to consultants/developers/brokers), and event-focused newsletters.
Represent RRP at various community after-hour and weekend events, not to exceed two per month.
Write and create content for social media by creating 10 unique posts per week across Roanoke Regional Partnership, Get2KnowNoke, and Roanoke Outside brand channels.
Shoot and edit videos and reels.
Provide support to staff as needed on marketing projects.
Manage special projects as assigned.
And other duties as assigned.
Proficiency in Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite products.
Familiarity with databases and email management programs.
Familiarity with WordPress sites.
Experienced and skilled in graphic design.
Familiarity in social media content creation and best practices (Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, Twitter)
Background knowledge in Google ads preferred
Excellent writing and presentation skills.
Basic understanding of marketing principles and advertising techniques.
Strong organizational skills and ability to prioritize.
Self-motivator with ability to approach job responsibilities from an entrepreneurial perspective and operate with minimal supervision.
Proficiency in capabilities of the Internet.
Understanding of the mission and goals of the RRP.
Commitment to continuous improvement in all job responsibilities.
Strong networking abilities with demonstrated ability to build connections and productive working relationships.
$20-25 per hour, not to exceed 30 hours per week
Cell phone stipend
Paid entry into after-hour events, races, festivals, etc.
Wombat Camper, a local business that manufactures small, overland-style campers, will unveil its first camper at the festival that brought their business to Roanoke: the Roanoke GO Outside Festival.
Wombat campers are made in Roanoke, VA, and come fully equipped for any camping excursion, on or off the road. Similar to a teardrop camper, the product is compact. What makes Wombat Camper unique is the degree of capability in maneuvering a wide variety of terrain combined with simplicity to transport when going on camping excursions. It will make its debut on Friday, October 14, at the Roanoke GO Outside Festival in Elmwood Park where attendees can tour the camper, talk with the manufacturers, and even purchase one of their own.
Avid travelers themselves, Wombat Camper owners Julie and Brad Meilak were looking for a camping vehicle that fit their lifestyle. After failing to find one on the market, they decided to design and build their own. “We love to travel,” Julie said of the inspiration to start this business. “We have traveled pretty much by any means possible, but for us, traveling by camper seemed to combine flexibility and comfort the best. So, we decided to take our ideas and experience and use them to design a camper that both looked good and had all the functionality to take us wherever we wanted to go.”
In deciding where to make their home base, the Meilaks wanted a small city with proximity to outdoor recreational opportunities like hiking, camping, and mountain biking. After travelling to Roanoke from Pennsylvania to attend the annual GO Outside Festival, the Meilaks agreed this was the perfect place to start and grow their business. “We love how Roanoke connects with the outdoors in and around the city with mountain bike trails, the Greenway, Explore Park, and, of course, GO Fest,” Julie said of the decision.
Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding with the Roanoke Regional Partnership and founder of GO Fest, met the Meilaks in 2018 when the company exhibited at GO Fest. “The Meilaks contacted me asking for a place to park their prototype overnight and I said why not in the middle of the festival” says Eshelman. “GO Fest is a fantastic celebration of our region’s outdoor culture and brand. The event attracts outdoor businesses, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and has proven to be a space for innovation. Wombat Camper is a perfect illustration of the forward momentum that can come from a celebration of authentic brand identity.”
The Roanoke Regional Partnership and the City of Roanoke assisted the couple in finding a space in the region for Wombat Camper to call home. Partnership staff also made connections with service providers. “Having the opportunity to meet the Meilaks and assist them in establishing Wombat Camper as new members of the region’s growing outdoor business industry was truly a pleasure,” said John Hull, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “Wombat Camper is an excellent example of how the Roanoke Region is a magnet for talent capable of supporting business ventures of all sizes and stages of development.”
The Meilaks have spent countless hours over the past few years designing and prototyping their flagship camper, and while they did not plan for it, unveiling their first completed camper at the event that brought them to town could not be more fitting. “We are so happy to finally bring it to market and show it to the people attending GO Fest. We hope it is something that people will be proud to say, ‘That’s made in Roanoke!’”
For media inquiries, please contact Pete Eshelman, Roanoke Regional Partnership director of outdoor branding, at 540-392-6989 or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Julie Meilak, Wombat Camper co-owner, at 267-218-4234 or email@example.com.