Onward NRV Hosts Secretary Brian Ball and VEDP CEO Stephen Moret

Onward NRV hosted the Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) CEO Stephen Moret to tour Virginia’s New River Valley on Monday and Tuesday, November 5-6.

Attendees also included Cass Rasnick, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development; Jason El Koubi, Executive Vice President for VEDP; Christy Morton, Vice President of External Affairs for VEDP; and Christine Bell, External Affairs Associate for VEDP.

The guests’ focus was on receiving input about the needs of the communities and businesses in Virginia’s New River Valley. The visit featured two roundtables: one for county/city administrators, economic developers, and higher education leaders; and one for local business leaders.

The roundtable discussions allowed local leaders to give direct feedback on what they need to continue to be successful in the NRV. This helps state leaders better serve our region.

The visit kicked off on Monday with a tour of Red Sun Farms in Dublin, a great opportunity for guests to better understand Food Processing & Agribusiness in the NRV, one of the region’s Targeted Industries.

Next was lunch at the Pete Dye River Course in Fairlawn and a regional presentation from Charlie Jewell, Executive Director of Onward NRV, before the communities and higher education roundtable.

Guests then toured Qualtrax and heard from CEO Amy Ankrum. This provided a look inside Information Technology in the NRV, one of the region’s Targeted Industies. It also gave the opportunity to discuss what IT Companies need to continue growing in the NRV.

Secretary Brian Ball at Qualtrax Blacksburg

The last stop for Monday was the roundtable for business leaders in the NRV. The companies represented included: Appalachian Power Company, Block.one, Carilion Clinic, Celanese, Citizens Telephone Cooperative, CowanPerry PC, SGS Polymer Solutions, Union Bank & Trust, Volvo Trucks, and Wolverine Advanced Materials.

Tuesday kicked off with a breakfast at The Inn at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and ended with a tour of Hollingsworth & Vose in Floyd. H&V is a great example of Advanced Manufacturing in the NRV, one of the region’s Targeted Industries.

Secretary Ball expressed his thanks on Twitter and appreciation for the Onward 2023 five-year strategy:

“Great day yesterday Onward NRV – such a collaborative spirit in this region and a strong plan to encourage continued growth- not to mention the natural beauty! Thanks to local community and business leaders for spending time with us.”

The tour was an excellent opportunity for local leaders in the NRV to have the chance to speak with the state teams face-to-face and in a welcoming environment. It’s important for Onward NRV and our local communities to discuss our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with our state leaders so they know how to help the NRV and our targeted industries continue to strategically grow.


Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

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