The Roanoke Region of Virginia made yet another nationally recognized list as one of the 10 Unique Zoom Towns You’ll Want to Move to in 2022 by Rent.com. So what is a Zoom town? In the article, they refer to it as a community experiencing consequential population increases as remote workers and digital nomads move to town.
Most sources specifically reference Zoom towns as a community that has seen a significant population increase in the wake of the pandemic, with the shift occurring largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The notable move toward remote work is expected to have significant economic implications. Pre-pandemic only 10% or less of the population worked remotely full-time, but those statistics are rapidly changing.
Towns listed in the article were recognized for their livability-related amenities and low cost of living. Remote workers have the luxury of moving anywhere in the country, which gives a clear advantage to outdoor destinations where biking, hiking, skiing, paddling, or other outdoor activities provide an easy escape regardless of COVID status.
The Roanoke Regional Partnership’s decade-long effort to brand the Roanoke Region as an outdoor wonderland has paid dividends during the pandemic as people flee larger cities for clean air, open spaces, and affordable housing. The article in Rent.com is just one of many national features in the past several months highlighting this phenomenon.
ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (July 27, 2021) – Stik-Pak Solutions Inc., a contract packaging firm, cut the ribbon on an expansion that will create 52 new jobs in Franklin County.
The company’s $10 million investment includes a 50,000 square foot building and new equipment. The company currently employs 60 people in Franklin County, having already created more than half of the 52 jobs anticipated in the expansion announced in 2019. The project will accommodate a future expansion to 100,000 square feet in the coming years as demand for the company’s product grows.
“Today, Stik-Pak Solutions celebrates its new facility and all the hard work of the management team and associates who now number over 60 strong, said company CEO, Kennon Marshall. “This group of hard-working individuals who hail largely from Franklin County are what make Stik-Pak successful.”
“On behalf of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors, I congratulate Stik-Pak on its new facility in the Summit View Business Park and we look forward to working with the company for many years to come,” said Board Chairman Ronnie Thompson.
Stik-Pak Solutions is one of three announced tenants in the Summit View Business Park. The 550-acre project includes numerous recreational and event-related amenities, such as a self-service, 24-hour library, multi-use trails, event space/festival grounds, in addition to fully-served business and industrial sites.
Stik-Pak Solutions was established in the Franklin County Commerce Center in 2013. The company provides contract packaging solutions in a variety of flexible pouch options. The company serves the food industry and is SQF 2 certified, FDA registered and certified USDA Organic.
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.
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.
ECONOMIC GROWTH AND INNOVATION
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.
TALENT ATTRACTION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
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.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
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.
PLACE MAKING AND LIVABILITY
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.