If You Build It, They Will Come: Remote Work and In-Migration Accelerate

roanoke region of virginiaWhile we’re not building a baseball field among the cornstalks, we believe the same principle applies to building community. In order to attract top tier businesses, you need high quality talent. And to get that talented workforce here, you must have placemaking and livability measures in place. How do you know if you’ve “built it?” Just look at the numbers.

In-migration to our region is at a 10-year high and remote work is increasing according to the data— signs that the region’s talent attraction and placemaking strategies areMap of East Coast indicating migration having positive impacts. IRS data from 2020 show 1,069 people—another 10-year high—moving to the Roanoke labor supply area (a 60-minute radius). The largest influx is from Lynchburg/Campbell County, but over 300 moved from the Washington D.C. metro area and over 200 moved from Hampton Roads to the Roanoke Region 2020.

Mostly due to the pandemic, remote work has become more popular (and possible) than ever. A national 2021 Business Response Survey done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that between July and September 2021, 13 percent of all U.S. private sector jobs involved teleworking full time, and nine percent involved teleworking some of the timeAbout 10 percent of jobs advertised on Indeed.com now offer remote work or work-at-home benefits. 

Now that folks are no longer tied to the city where they work, many are looking to live elsewhere. So why not here?

We’re continuing to tell the story of the Roanoke Region through our talent ambassador program, targeted marketing campaigns, and sharing examples of collaboration and community. Our region is flush with rivers, mountains, lakes, and trails for residents to enjoy all year long, and we’re directly building community through events like the Experience Conference, Blue Ridge Marathon, Go Cross (live streamed globally this past year), and the annual GO Outside Festival. Additionally, the region is invested in collaborative workspaces to accommodate those who work remotely but want to get out of their homes.

The numbers look good. The region has built it, so the people are coming. New 2021 data released by the US Census Bureau estimate that 13 percent of workers living in the Roanoke MSA are working at home, an increase from five percent of workers in 2016. But the work isn’t done. For 2021, this compares to 18 percent of all US workers and 22 percent of workers in Virginia. Mid-size markets lag compared to larger metros with larger service-based sectors and technology sectors, but Roanoke’s strong performance for a market its size shows the region, and its infrastructure, can support remote work.

Remote workers and those in the gig economy continue to be a priority for the Partnership, so we, along with our community partners, will continue to build—we’ll build on the success we’ve had and continue to put our region on the map. If you can live and work anywhere, we believe the Roanoke Region is the best place to do it.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership Visits Region; Receives Whirlwind Tour

Group of people smiling for the camera outside on a sunny dayHow do you condense eight localities, hundreds of businesses, several higher education institutions, great restaurants and breweries, tons of recreational assets, and southern hospitality into a two-day visit?

This past month, six economic professionals from Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) paid a visit to the Roanoke Region for a familiarization tour, or “fam tour,” to get to know this community and all it has to offer businesses and potential residents. These visits are an opportunity to show off the region’s business assets, livability, and natural beauty so we can be top-of-mind for businesses looking to relocate or expand.

VEDP representatives had the chance to meet and chat with economic development staff from the Cities of Alleghany, Roanoke, and Salem, Counties of Botetourt, Covington, Franklin, and Roanoke, and the Town of Vinton.

They paid visits to Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke College, and Mountain Gateway Community College, hopefully gleaning a better understanding of the partnerships forming and pipelines being created to support both local industry and higher ed institutions.

They toured available commercial real estate in the region, both shovel-ready sites and buildings, to get a feel of the size and types of businesses we can accommodate. As for the jobs these new businesses could create? VEDP met with the local workforce development board to learn about the talent already here in the region, initiatives in place to attract more, and programs that can support their future workforce.

People posing around giants letters that spell out "LOVE"

Of course, the itinerary included stops at both the Center for Industry and Technology and Roanoke Center for Research and Technology to demonstrate the region’s robust technology and innovation infrastructure.

Sprinkled throughout these visits were stops at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, favorite restaurants, local breweries, a distillery, and our vibrant downtowns.

How do you tell the story of our region in just two days? The short answer: you can’t. However, with the help of our partners in local government, workforce development, technology, education, and hospitality, we feel like we generated a suitable Cliff’s notes version to keep the Roanoke Region top of mind at the state level.

Roanoke Regional Partnership and Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board Seeking Proposals for Web-Based Talent Portal

The Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board (GRWDB), in partnership with the Roanoke Regional Partnership (RRP), is seeking competitive proposals from qualified sources to create, develop, and assist in the implementation of a regional web-based talent portal for the Greater Roanoke Region. The region includes the Counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Franklin, and Roanoke and the Cities of Covington, Roanoke, and Salem.

Proposal submissions may be submitted either electronically or by physical mail. All proposals must be received electronically or in-person at the GRWDB office no later than 12:00 PM (noon) EST on Monday, October 10, 2022.

Click here to view the full RFP.

Building Strong Partnerships for a Prosperous Future

Five people smiling and posed in front of large window with mountains in the backgroundThere’s a reason it is called the Roanoke Regional Partnership. It takes local and regional partners working together with state agencies to boost quality of life, recruit and develop a local workforce, and build community wealth. The past few weeks have been a shining example of building and maintaining those strong relationships. Recently, the Partnership hosted the Honorable Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) CEO Jason El Koubi on a regional tour. In June, the Partnership also hosted VEDP project managers in several different sector teams representing technology, services, products, and lead generation.

These tours are important to the region in several ways. They’re opportunities to share information on regional strengths such as industrial diversity, location, speed-to-market real estate solutions, and workforce development programs. They also provide the Partnership an opportunity to market itself on the livability and quality-of-life amenities this region has worked tirelessly to curate. And of course, these tours open a two-way dialogue with decision makers. This visit with Secretary Merrick was an excellent opportunity for public and private leadership to share ideas and perspectives on a wide range of matters.    

The tours encompassed everything from industry and workforce roundtable discussions, meetings with leadership, tours of prepared sites to enjoyment of recreational amenities and discussions surrounding market assets and strengths.

Economic development is a team sport, and it involves a wide range and mix of partners at the local, regional, and state levels including the public and the private sectors. Everyone has a seat at the table. The Roanoke Regional Partnership and its leadership are actively engaged in productive relationship building to further the aims and pursuits of regional economic development.

Previous, current, and future successes cannot come to fruition without the support of the Partnership’s public and private investors. An example of that is the recent Thrive 2027 campaign. The $3.6 million campaign goal was surpassed by over $400,000, a testament to the work and relationship building the Partnership brings to the economic development table. Please visit www.thriveroanoke.com to learn more about the Partnership’s strategies and tactics and to join the ranks of investors helping to grow the region.