Roanoke Region Has Lowest Cost of Living in Virginia

The numbers are in and the Roanoke Region again ranks as the top of the list when it comes to cost of living. 

Numbers released by the Council for Community and Economic Research for the second quarter of 2014 rank the Roanoke metro area as having the lowest cost of living index in the state. With an index of 90.9, costs in Roanoke are 9.1 percent lower than the national average of 100. Roanoke is the 60th lowest cost metro market in the country, and is in the top 25 percent of metros nationally. 

The numbers put Roanoke well below the national average for costs and ahead of similarly sized metro markets in the South such as Richmond (100.2), Asheville (105.5), and Chattanooga (95.1). New York City ranked highest in cost of living with an index more than twice the national average (217), followed by Honolulu, HI in second (167.5). 

Roanoke has significant comparative advantages in housing, transportation, and grocery costs.

Cost of Living Index, 2014 – 2nd Quarter
  Composite Grocery Housing Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc. 
Roanoke 90.9 91.5 88.8 98 90.3 97.7 89.4

The Cost of Living Index measures regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services, excluding taxes and non-consumer expenditures, for professional and managerial households in the top income quintile. It is based on more than 90,000 prices covering 60 different items for which prices are collected quarterly by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and university applied economic centers in each participating urban area.

The composite index is based on six component categories – housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services. 

Compare costs for yourself with our Cost of Living Calculator

Region’s Craft Brewers Rake in Beer Cup Awards

Virginia craft brewersThe craft beer industry is enjoying a renaissance in the U.S. unlike anything seen since Prohibition, and Virginia is one of the states at the forefront of the movement. The Commonwealth’s best brewers gathered this past weekend at the 2014 Virginia Craft Brewers Fest to celebrate the state’s craft beer culture and salute the best brews in VA.

The Roanoke Region has been an active participant in the recent explosion of small, craft breweries opening across the country. Over the past few years, nearly 10 breweries have opened in the area, putting Roanoke on the map when it comes to Virginia’s beer destinations. But it is not just quantity that people are looking for when considering a craft brew, they are looking for quality. Several breweries from the region entered the third annual Virginia Craft Brewers Cup competition – held in conjunction with the  Brewers Fest – and held their own against the top brewers in the state.

Salem’s Parkway Brewing took Gold in the Porter category and Silver in the Kolsh and Blonde Ale category, Smith Mountain Lake’s Sunken City earned two Silvers and a Bronze, while Chaos Mountain took a Silver and a Bronze. 

Below are some of the highlight awards from the competition:

Vienna and Oktoberfest 
Gold: Devils Backbone Outpost – Vienna Lager 
Silver: Sunken City Brewing Company – Sunktoberfest 
Bronze: Lost Rhino Brewing Company – RhinoFest 

Kolsch and Blonde Ale 
Gold: Champion Brewing Company – Killer Kolsch 
Silver: Parkway Brewing Company – Bridge Builder Blonde 
Bronze: Capitol City Brewing Company – Capitol Kolsch 

Light and Amber Hybrid Beer 
Gold: Bull and Bones Brewhaus – Appalachian Alt 
Silver: Sunken City Brewing Company – Steemboat Beer 
Bronze: Champion Brewing Company – Stickin’ in my Rye 

English, Scottish, and Irish Ale 
Gold: Apocalypse Ale Works – Heavy Red Horseman 
Silver: Midnight Brewery – Not My Job 
Bronze: Old Bust Head Brewing Company – Bust Head

Gold: Parkway Brewing Company – Raven’s Roost Baltic Porter 
Silver: Old Ox Brewery – Black Ox 
Bronze: Port City Brewing Company – Porter 

Gold: Apocalypse Ale Works – 6th Seal 
Silver: Chaos Mountain Brewing – Coco Borealis 
Bronze: Three Notch’d Brewing Company – Oats McGoats Oatmeal Stout 

India Pale Ale 
Gold: Starr Hill – King of Hop 
Silver: Port City Brewing Company – Monumental IPA 
Bronze: Sunken City Brewing Company – Red Clay IPA 

Belgian Strong Ale 
Gold: Chaos Mountain Brewing – Agents of Chaos 
Silver: Apocalypse Ale Works – Lustful Maiden 
Bronze: Blue Mountain Brewery – Marsedon 

Check out all the winners >>>

Two Roanoke Region Counties Honored for Digital Government

Roanoke Takes Top Digital HonorsTwo counties in the Roanoke Region are turning heads for their success in utilizing technology and innovation to govern more efficiently and effectively. 

Roanoke County and Franklin County were both recognized in the “Up to 150,000 Population” category in the 2014 Digital Counties Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties. The annual survey rates and ranks hundreds of U.S. counties based on demonstrating technological success int he areas of citizen engagement, policy, data, and operations.

Roanoke County was named the top ranked county in the “Up to 150,000 population” category, while Franklin County was ranked 7th in the same category. The survey cited projects around GIS, radio, and governance as the reason for besting other counties from Florida, California, New York, and Michigan. 

Read an excerpt below:

The county’s GIS portal showcases mapping services spanning from property tax applications to voting maps and 3d views of the land.

Roanoke County showed that when it comes to governance, its policies reveal a level of maturity impressive for an organization their size. “This is big city stuff,” the county said.

The Roanoke Valley Radio Communications System serves agencies across the county, and a data-driven approach to crime and safety program (DDACTS) reduced violent crime by nine percent, and reduced reported crashes by 13 percent.

In total, nine Virginia counties were ranked by the survey.

See all the winners and read the rest of the story >>>

Carilion Named Fourth Best Hospital in Virginia

Carilion Roanoke Memorial HospitalThe U.S. News & World Report has named Roanoke’s Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hosptital the fourth best hospital in Virginia in their latest rankings. 

CRMH was named a top ten hospital in the publication’s 2013 ranking, but jumped into the Top 5 in 2014, receiving high marks for “patient safety, demonstrating commitment to reducing accidents and medical mistakes.” U.S. News also named ten adult specialties at Carilion as on par with nationally ranked U.S. News Best Hospitals:

  • Cardiology and Heart Surgery
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology & GI Surgery
  • Geriatrics
  • Gynecology
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology & Neurosurgery
  • Orthopaedics
  • Pulmonology
  • Urology

“These high performing services treat the chronic conditions that cause the most harm in our communities,” said Carilion President and CEO Nancy Agee in a memo to employees. “This is more evidence of our commitment to improve the health of our region.”

Agee also cited improvements made in the last year – including advancing the use of electronic medical records, improving ambulatory care, and a commitment to coordinated care – to the improved ranking. 

See the full U.S. News & World Report rankings >>>