Star City Rising: Roanoke Named Top Small City on the Rise

Roanoke skylineThe Roanoke Region landed on another Top Ten list this week, and this is the Top Ten that keeps on giving. The travel site SmarterTravel.com named Roanoke, Virginia as one of “America’s Best Small Cities on the Rise.” 

In the intro to the list, Smarter Travel listed such attributes as revitalized downtowns, craft beers, and the arts combined with small town charm as reasons for inclusion. 

The site cited Roanoke’s own revitalized downtown area as one reason for its ranking. The new Elmwood Park amphitheater, pedestrian plaza at the city market, and the Center in the Square were all named as factors as well. The outdoors was also a significant reason for Roanoke’s recognition. 

The Roanoke Star Overlook, Roanoke Food Tour, Twin River Outfitters, Underdog Bikes and the Roanoke River Greenway were all mentioned in the article. Roanoke joined cities such as Chattanooga, TN, Yakima, WA, Traverse City, MI, Portland, ME, and Missoula, MT on the list. 

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Trinity Packaging Corporation Expands in the Roanoke Region

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Trinity Packaging Corporation will invest $9.5 million to expand capacity at its operation in the Town of Rocky Mount in Franklin County. The project will create 25 new jobs. Virginia successfully competed against New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee for the project.
 
Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Trinity Packaging Corporation continues to grow in Franklin County, as this project is the company’s second major investment in its Rocky Mount operation in less than four years. Trinity’s history spans nearly 100 years, and we are proud that this valuable Virginia employer is on the roster of companies that continue to bolster the thriving advanced manufacturing industry in the Commonwealth. It is my goal to increase jobs of the 21st Century, and this expansion and the addition of 25 new jobs in this important sector is significant.”

“Trinity Packaging Corporation’s expansion is a great testament to the region’s skilled workforce in advanced manufacturing and in the plastics industry,” said Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “The company’s continued growth in Franklin County is evidence of its commitment to Virginia and the benefits of our business-friendly environment. We look forward to a long corporate partnership with Trinity Packaging for years to come.”
 
Headquartered in Armonk, New York, Trinity Packaging is a privately held family business founded in 1917 as a paper bag converter. In 1979, Trinity entered into the plastics market and throughout the past several decades has expanded its plastics product offerings. Today, Trinity has multiple plant locations and its products are sold globally and include flexible films for a variety of industries. The market segments Trinity currently services include lawn & garden, consumer & home goods, dry food & snacks, pet care and all other industrially packaged products in both small and large formats.
 
“We are pleased that our future growth and expansion will remain in the town of Rocky Mount and Franklin County,” said Peter Freund, President of Trinity. “We have a long history of success with the state of Virginia as a tremendous business partner and we look forward to continuing to prosper here.”
 
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Franklin County, the Town of Rocky Mount and the Roanoke Regional Partnership to help secure the project for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $65,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Franklin County and the Town of Rocky Mount with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $75,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the project. The company is also eligible to receive manufacturers’ Sales and Use tax exemptions. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity will provide funding and services to support the company’s training activities.
 
David Cundiff, Chairman of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors and member of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, stated, “Trinity Packaging has long been one the County’s most respected major employers and their stability and growth continues to fuel the community’s strong local economy. We are proud to be a part of the team assisting Trinity Packaging to prosper here in Franklin County.”
 
“The Town of Rocky Mount is pleased to support the expansion of jobs and production at Trinity Packaging,” said Mayor Steve Angle. “We value highly Trinity’s part in employing our citizens, their strong corporate citizenship, and their continued dedication to growing, expanding and staying in Rocky Mount. As we work to make Rocky Mount a destination, we value the security represented by strong industries and major employers like Trinity, and we are grateful to Dan Mills and his local staff for their efforts on our behalf.”

Virginia Named a Top State for Small Business

Virginia Gets Top Rankings for BusinessThe Commonwealth of Virginia continues to be a leader when it comes to creating a business-friendly environment for existing  companies, small businesses, and startups. 

In a recent survey conducted by online professional marketplace Thumbtack.com in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, found that Virginia ranked fourth out of all states in Small Business Friendliness. The study drew from data straight from the source: 12,000 small business owners across the country to gauge each state’s business environment from those who operate inside the system. 

“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, business owners have reaffirmed that Virginia is a premier destination for starting and running a business,” says Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of Thumbtack. “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and Virginia’s A+ grade by its small businesses shows what a welcoming and friendly place the Commonwealth is for entrepreneurs.”

The survey cited several factors that played into Virginia’s ranking, including African American business owners feeling especially supported by the state government, business owners in the state being optimistic about hiring in the next year, and the friendliness of the state’s health and safety, labor, and licensing regulations. Nationwide, the availability of training programs was a big factor in determining where business owners ranked their state. 

In a separate ranking, using different methodology, CNBC ranked Virginia as one of the Top 10 States for Business, putting the Commonwealth at Number 8. Using 56 measures of competitiveness based on input from business groups, economic development experts, companies, and state governments. The state received the highest marks in the categories of workforce, technology and innovation, business friendliness, and education.

Overall, these two studies show Virginia is on the right track when it comes to attracting business, and the Roanoke Region is a major benefactor. With support from the state in the realms of licensing, incentives, workforce development programs, and the ease of registration, the region’s business climate is as competitive as ever.

Blue Ridge Marathon Brings Largest Economic Impact to Date

Blue Ridge MarathonThe Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon brought over a half million dollars into the local economy, according to a new report released by the Roanoke Regional Partnership

In a study conducted following the race on April 26, the data shows the marathon, half marathon, and Star 10K generated $521,000 in economic impact. Over the past five years, the race has contributed more than $2 million to the local economy. 

See the full press release below, and visit blueridgemarathon.com for more details:

Race Brings Largest Economic Impact to Date

Blue Ridge Marathon, Half Marathon, and Star 10K create $521,000 economic impact

ROANOKE, Va., (June, 2014) ­– More racers from out of town brought more money into the Roanoke Region’s economy during the fifth annual Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, half marathon, and Anthem Star 10K. “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” hosted 1,594 runners who generated over $521,000 in economic impact according to a new study. Over the past five years, the event has contributed more than $2,000,000 to the local economy.

A post-race survey determined the April 26 races created $322,200 in direct new sales activity, plus an additional $199,126 in indirect and induced spending for a total of $521,326 – up 9 percent over 2013. Activity surrounding the event will also support 6.1 jobs in the regional economy over the period of one year.

The economic impact is larger this year as a result of increased participation by runners from outside the Roanoke Region. The race drew runners from 38 states – in addition to the District of Columbia – and six countries: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. The number of runners participating from outside the region grew by 6.4 percent over 2013; average visitor spending increased by over 21 percent among those traveling at least an hour and a half.

“The results of this year’s study demonstrate that we’re meeting our goal of becoming a destination event. It also reinforces awareness of the Roanoke Region’s outdoor amenities and reaffirms that our growing reputation as an outdoor destination leads to economic development,” said Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “This study doesn’t count money spent by our own residents, it only factors in money spent by visitors, people from outside our region.”

The Partnership and Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission prepared a participant survey to measure the event’s economic impact. Respondents were asked to report the amount spent on fuel, meals, lodging, miscellaneous retail purchases and admissions while in the study area.

Along with national interest in the race – buoyed by exposure in Conde Nast Traveler, Runners World, and Daily Burn – local interest grew as well. A new 10K race option, starting location, and post-race concert in conjunction with the Down by Downtown Music Festival, brought the community out to Elmwood Park. The race was also once again broadcast live by WDBJ-7, who reported large viewership throughout the race.

”For WDBJ7, the 2014 Blue Ridge Marathon was a success on several fronts,” said WDBJ-7 General Manager Jeffrey Marks. “Our viewers saw compelling coverage, our advertisers were able to support a large community event and more than 50 of our employees and volunteers enjoyed putting the coverage together.”

More than 44 percent of all survey respondents reported staying in town for at least one night. Approximately 35 percent stayed between one and two nights. The average length of stay among overnight visitors was 1.81 nights.

About 48 percent of all respondents reported traveling with family or friends, up from 46 percent in 2013. Respondents were asked to report the number of non-participants that traveled with them. The average size of the travel party among overnight visitors was 2.3, up from 2.1 in 2013. Day-trip visitors traveled with an average of 1.4 others per participant, up from 0.9.

The race course started in downtown Roanoke and climbed to the top of Mill Mountain and Roanoke Mountain along sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway for a total elevation change of 7,430 feet, making it America’s toughest road marathon.

“As the event continues to grow, it is becoming much more than a race; it’s a destination, bucket-list race that attracts visitors while providing an avenue for community residents to become more healthy and active. More than 30 organizations and sponsors, and 475 volunteers, understand what this event means to our community,” said Eshelman.

“We’ve been a proud member of the Roanoke community since 1987 and promoting wellness is a core value” said Anthony Conversa, vice president of sales and marketing for Foot Levelers. “Supporting the Blue Ridge Marathon is a natural fit and as we grow together we’ll have the ability to help more and more people live healthy, active lifestyles.”

The 2015 races are set for April 18.

To view the full economic impact report, visit www.blueridgemarathon.com/economicimpact2014