GO Virginia

Onward NRV Partners to Conduct “Brain Drain” Study

Virginia’s New River ValleyOnward New River Valley partnered with Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance and Roanoke Regional Partnership to conduct the “Stopping the Brain Drain” study sponsored by the GO Virginia initiative. Economic Development All three organizations, GO Virginia Region 2, collectively analyzed the region’s capacity for talent, strengths and challenges of developing talent, and opportunities to improve current strategies. The survey included over 100 higher education professionals, business representatives, and young professionals through focus groups in addition to more than 1,100 postsecondary students and alumni through an online survey. Across then region, in a variety of industries, common themes quickly became apparent. Residents of the region had a significant amount of positive feedback about living and working in the area. Outdoor recreation, cost of living, affordable housing, safety, and education were the top five reasons to live and work in the New River Valley. However, there are some challenges to living here, especially as a young professional. Lack of cultural diversity, dating opportunities, and local retail and dining options were all barriers for talent to stay and/or come to the region. Businesses reported some of their needs as:
  • Access to a larger talent pool
  • Professionals with 5 to 7 years of experience
  • Specialized skills, specifically in information technology and engineering
  • Entry level applicants with soft skills
While only 18% of students are currently looking to stay in the region, there is a large untapped market, about 26% of students, who are unsure if they want to stay in the region or look elsewhere. When it comes to engaging talent, this group will be the primary target moving forward. In line with the results of the study, Onward NRV is working on several initiatives to engage and retain talent. Earlier this year, the organization promoted James Cabler to Director of Business Engagement, a new position, to focus on helping businesses connect to higher education assets. Additionally, Onward NRV is developing a summer internship consortium program, launching in 2020, to help students build meaningful connections to the businesses and communities in the region. A series of videos is also being created, with plans to be released later this year, featuring local employers and in-demand careers within the targeted industries. Lastly, enhancements to the Virginia’s New River Valley website, www.theNRV.org, will include a regional job board along with a digital relocation guide. As the New River Valley, continues to grow and develop, Onward NRV, will use the data to help inspire and drive forward our mission of attracting and retaining world class jobs, investment and talent.
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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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