Thrive 2027 Update: Partnership Mission Focuses on Four Priority Areas

The Roanoke Regional Partnership commissioned Ernst & Young Economic Development Advisory Services on a strategic planning process that will direct the organization’s body of work through 2027. The consultant team and Partnership staff have conducted a public survey, engaged stakeholders in interviews and focus groups, and launched a detailed competitive assessment of the regional market and its opportunities. Four major priority areas have emerged during this process.

Four major priority areas that emerged during the Thrive 2027 strategic planning process.

The Partnership plans to roll out the five-year strategy at an investor update meeting to be scheduled in August 2021. 

The information below outlines the goals within each priority area. The consultant team is currently formulating an implementation plan which will focus on measurable outcomes and tactics to support each of the four priority areas.


Goal 1: Grow the Roanoke regional economy by amplifying business recruitment and expansion efforts, strengthening technology and innovation, and generating more high-paying jobs.

1.1 Elevate business recruitment, expansion and retention activities.

Enhance business investment cultivation through strengthened partnerships, increased marketing and media relations, and a coordinated business retention and expansion initiative.

1.2 Boost the region’s reputation as a technology and innovation hub.

Create a compelling narrative and communications strategy with input from education leaders and researchers, business executives and entrepreneurs, and public sector leaders.
1.3 Contribute to the success and retention of entrepreneurial companies.

Support start-ups and high-growth firms with relevant market intelligence, business-to-business introductions, site availability insights, and more.


Goal 2: Expand efforts to attract and retain in-demand talent.

2.1 Lead talent attraction marketing efforts for a young, diverse and skilled workforce.

Leverage the Partnership’s marketing expertise and established image in outdoor recreation in a larger program promoting the region’s livability and career opportunities to out-of-market talent.

2.2 Collaborate with education and workforce development partners to better align talent programs with employer needs.

Serve as a strategic partner and connector to help businesses engage more seamlessly with education and training initiatives.

2.3 Foster opportunities for greater diversity in the region’s workforce and leadership.

Ensure diversity is reflected in communications and all efforts of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. Identify ways to foster growth of diverse leadership.


Goal 3: Advocate for the acceleration of commercial and industrial real estate development and support advocacy for infrastructure improvement and funding.

3.1 Expand and strengthen the role of the Western Virginia Regional Industrial Facility Authority as the authoritative resource on real estate supply, trends, needs, and potential.

Be the voice in proactively identifying and addressing needs for business in commercial real estate and work to develop an inventory necessary for economic development.

3.2 Serve as a thought leader on issues and infrastructure affecting economic competitiveness.

Provide data and information to shed light on needs in areas such as transportation, broadband, workforce, and other infrastructure.


Goal 4: Reinforce the region’s identity and competitive advantage as an outdoor destination, while highlighting other prominent lifestyle features and amenities, and supporting quality-of-life efforts.

4.1 Build on the success of Roanoke Outside with continued marketing and the development of sustainable funding for outdoors preservation and enhancement.

Sustain the region’s outdoors brand for business recruitment and talent attraction.

4.2 Continue to build the Get2KnowNoke brand to promote the diverse character and amenities of the region to appeal to a wider audience.

Amp up the Partnership’s livability story to include a message that appeals to a wider audience while maintaining the central core of outdoor lifestyle.

4.3 Monitor emerging quality of life concerns and serve as a regional thought leader in regards to placemaking and quality of life.

Utilize the Partnership’s research and data analytics capability to track and report on issues that can have an adverse impact on economic competitiveness and livability. The research can help inform efforts to mitigate problems, such as housing availability and affordability, and access to quality childcare, while expanding the Partnership’s reach in the broader community.

Questions? Email John Hull, Executive Director

Chorda Pharma Partners with Carilion Clinic for Emerging Pain Treatments

chorda pharma logoChorda Pharma, a Roanoke, Va.-based pharmaceuticals company, is partnering with Carilion Clinic to develop, test, and market non-opioid medications to treat chronic pain.

Chorda Pharma was founded by Rick Carliss, Ph.D., to address the growing incidence of arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, sports injuries, and other ailments among individuals requiring long-term treatment to relieve pain. Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in America, with more than 54 million people afflicted.

Common prescription medications such as corticosteroids and over the counter (OTC) treatments, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen, are not considered safe for long-term treatment of pain. Chorda Pharma’s first analgesic medication is an OTC topical cream. Clinical trials will be performed at Carilion Clinic to demonstrate the tolerability of the proprietary drug. Pending successful results, the drug will enter the market in early 2022.

Finding safe alternatives to traditional OTC and prescription-based pain relievers, like opioids, is an industry priority. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, addiction to opioid pain relievers has contributed to a national public health emergency, with 10 million patients misusing prescription opioids in the past year and over 70,000 drug overdose deaths.

“Chorda’s partnership with Carilion is an important milestone, allowing us to leverage Carilion’s considerable expertise in research, clinical care and the health care industry,” said Dr. Carliss. “Our topical medication contains an active ingredient recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective. We believe that it will fill a gap that currently exists between prescription and other OTC pain relievers. We look forward to working with Carilion’s leadership to develop commercial opportunities for non-opioid pain medications.”

“Carilion’s partnership with Chorda Pharma shows our commitment to investing in and collaborating with local, small businesses offering innovations that improve the quality of care,” said Carilion President and CEO Nancy Howell Agee. “Opportunities like this with Chorda demonstrate how our regional efforts to nurture and grow small health science companies are coming to fruition.”

Julia Boas Named Director of Marketing

Julia Boas has been named director of marketing for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. Boas has worked the last seven years as the director of events and events marketing at the Roanoke Outside Foundation, a non-profit created by the Roanoke Regional Partnership in 2013.

“Boas has an amazing ability to do a lot with very little and does not take no for an answer. She is able to leverage partnerships to create high-caliber events that exceed expectations,” said Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership and director of the foundation. “She’s an incredibly hard worker, often remaining in the shadows while others receive credit for her efforts. She’s all about making the Roanoke Region a better place, and her capacity to organize a mountain of details under extreme pressure will serve her well in any position.”

“Julia’s communications and marketing expertise has served the Roanoke Outside Foundation well, resulting in a high level of growth in the foundation’s events,” said John Hull, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “I am excited to continue working with Julia as she transfers her passion, energy and expertise toward marketing strategies aimed at attracting jobs, investment and new residents to the Roanoke Region of Virginia.”

Under her leadership, the Blue Ridge Marathon was built into an internationally recognized event with a $6.9 million economic impact to date and 10 to 15 percent increased participation every year (pre-COVID). GO Outside Festival became a national event, attracting top outdoor manufacturers and retailers, and growing in attendance from 15,000 to 40,000. Go Cross Cyclocross Race, in only three years, became a UCI event putting Roanoke on the international cycling map attracting professional athletes from around the world. Each event has increased in overall attendance, athlete registrations and economic impact every year under her management.

“We’ve been able to change the narrative of what it means to be a ‘Roanoker’ both within our own community and on a national level.” says Boas. “The outdoors is now one of the number one things that people associate with the region…events like the Marathon and GO Fest were created as tools to tell that story. I’m excited to take these strategies and put them toward our overall mission at the Roanoke Regional Partnership.”

In this role, she will continue to develop the talent attraction and retention brand Get2KnowNoke and harness Roanoke Outside’s livability narrative to increase visibility and build an economic sector in outdoor recreation, outdoor business, and adventure tourism. Boas will also work on strategic communication plans focusing on growth in established target sectors and assisting with development of fledging sectors such as innovation, technology and life sciences in the Roanoke Region.

Prior to working for Roanoke Outside, Boas worked in the outdoor industry for almost a decade with experience guiding adventure excursions, planning outdoor related events, promoting, management and customer service. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina. She was honored with the Roanoker Magazine 40 under 40 distinction in 2020 and selected by Virginia Business as one of the 100 Virginians to Meet in 2020.  

The Roanoke Regional Partnership, founded in 1983, is the public-private economic development marketing and strategy organization supported by Alleghany, Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke Counties, the cities of Covington, Roanoke, and Salem, and the town of Vinton as well as more than 200 businesses. The organization has worked with its partners to create more than 19,000 primary jobs and $19 billion in investment by attracting companies such as Orvis, Altec, McAirlaids, Bimbo Bakeries, Cardinal Glass, Balchem, Eldor, Mack Trucks, Traditional Medicinals, Constellation Brands and others to the region.

Attracting Business and Talent by Investing in Our Community

The Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Outside Foundation celebrated a major win in March, awarding 14 grants through Project Outside.

Funds raised during the latter part of 2020, will support outdoor projects including greenway repairs for section damaged by flooding, machines for trail work, installing a new river access ramp, tools for volunteer trail workers, development of outdoor program for underserved youth, disc golf course improvements, and support for outdoor businesses impacted by the pandemic.

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