Mid-Size Metros Need Curated, Integrated Strategies to Survive and to Thrive

John Hullby John Hull, director of  market intelligence

Size matters when it comes to a metro area because size helps determine whether a metro is growing and on the path to prosperity, if it is stagnant … or even worse, declining. Research released last fall by the Brookings Institute comparing economic performance of the largest metros to mid-size and small metro areas shows large metros are talent magnets drawing large pools of workers by virtue of diverse amenities and a high level of opportunity. Brookings’ work shows small and mid-size metros trail the 100 largest metros in rates of growth in employment, personal income, and labor force participation.

This isn’t to say mid-size metros and smaller metros do not have a place in the modern economy. The Roanoke Region’s experience in the last 24 months illustrates significant potential.

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Don’t Miss GO Fest, Oct. 13-15

go fest outdoors roanoke festival

Mark your calendars now: The Anthem GO Outside Festival, which connects outdoor enthusiasts to the things they love, is back Oct. 13-15 at River’s Edge.

The festival includes more activities than you can do in three days – camping, biking, boating, races, geocaching, and more.

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Starr Hill: One More Connection Between Beer and the Outdoors

starr hill roanoke brewery craft beer

Beer and the outdoors just seem to go together. The region’s outdoor amenities have been cited multiple times by breweries choosing the Roanoke Region as a place to do business.

The latest in this line of announcements is Starr Hill, a Charlottesville-based brewery, which is opening a Pilot Brewery and Side Stage at The Bridges in Roanoke.

It is the first satellite taproom for Starr Hill and will feature a 5-barrel brewing system with a capacity of making at least 50 limited release batches each year. It is slated to open this fall.

“Roanoke is going to be a great fit for Starr Hill with our shared history and culture of experiencing music and life outdoors in the beautiful Blue Ridge,” said Jack Goodall, marketing manager for Starr Hill Brewery.

The brewery is just one more in a string of craft beer successes for the Roanoke Region. The Roanoke Regional Partnership helped lure Deschutes Brewery and Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits to the region. Both will open East Coast headquarters with taprooms and distribution here.

The region is ripe for smaller operations as well. In 2016, Twin Creeks Brewing opened in Vinton, while Chaos Mountain Brewing and Big Lick Brewing announced expansions. Established regional breweries such as Parkway Brewing, Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers, Sunken City, and Flying Mouse Brewery have also experienced growth.

From locations near the greenway or Appalachian Trail to label artwork that features regional outdoor hot spots to open air settings with live music, each of the breweries has some connection to the outdoors. These businesses are also major supporters of outdoor events, including the Blue Ridge Marathon and Roanoke GO Outside Festival.

A lot of what draws this type of business to the Roanoke Region is the beer culture and connection to the outdoors. It’s part of a wider economic development strategy that the Partnership has been pursuing for years.