Onward NRV Hosts Tour for Secretary of Commerce & Trade

Onward NRV Hosts Tour for Secretary of Commerce & Trade and VEDP CEO

Onward NRV hosted Virginia Secretary of Commerce & Trade Caren Merrick and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) President and CEO Jason El Koubi on a tour of Virginia’s New River Valley on Thursday, July 21st and Friday, July 22nd. Other tour guests included Wyatt Toehlke, Special Assistant for Policy, Commerce & Trade; Christy Morton, VEDP Senior Vice President, Policy & Strategic Partnerships; and Lindsay Barker, VEDP Senior Manager, External Affairs.

The goal of the visit was for Secretary Merrick, Jason El Koubi, and other guests to explore the region, hear from local government and business leaders, and learn more about the advantages of living and working in Virginia’s New River Valley.

Thursday’s events started off with a lunch and collaborative discussion with Onward NRV, the Roanoke Regional Partnership, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. This was followed by a Community and Higher Education Roundtable graciously hosted by Radford University. During the roundtable, Secretary Merrick and Jason El Koubi heard from the higher education leaders, local economic developers, and county/city administrators from across the NRV. The group then visited Montgomery County to tour Torc Robotics and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. They closed out the evening with dinner at the Palisades Restaurant in Giles County.

Friday began at the Inn at Virginia Tech with breakfast and a roundtable discussion with regional business leaders and elected representatives, including Delegate Jason Ballard, Senator Travis Hackworth, and Senator David Suetterlein. The business leaders shared with the Secretary reasons that the New River Valley was a great place to do business as well as important concerns about topics such as recruiting and retaining talent. The tour then headed to Floyd County, where the guests toured both the Floyd Innovation Center and Crenshaw Lighting. The Secretary and other guests closed out their visit to the New River Valley with stops in Pulaski County, where they toured of Phoenix Packaging and visited with business leaders before returning to Richmond.

Onward NRV would like to thank our partners across the New River Valley for their support and participation in this regional tour.


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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