New River Valley, VA – Stephen Moret, the new President and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, visited Virginia’s New River Valley earlier this month to better understand the area’s economic development assets.
Over a two-day visit hosted by the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance, Moret dined with eight business executives; visited major employers in the manufacturing and technology sectors; held a round table with officials from Virginia Tech, Radford University and New River Community College; met with local economic development officials from eight localities; and shared his vision for economic development with almost 100 regional stakeholders at the Alliance’s quarterly luncheon.
One of the major employers Moret visited was the Volvo Trucks USA assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia. The 1.6 million-square-foot manufacturing facility is not only the largest Volvo truck manufacturer in the world, but is also the largest employer in Pulask County. Marcus Thompson, “Inspiration Manager” and senior leader on the Volvo Trucks North America team, led the tour and introduced Moret to several workers who had all been with the company for 15+ years.
Rounding out the tour, Thompson led Moret around the nearly-complete Customer Experience Center and explained that crafting both a perfect employee experience—employees have implemented 30,000+ new ideas at the plant and weekly food carts offer rotating perks like liege waffles or Italian ice—and top-notch customer experience is key for this Volvo facility.
Moret also met with Meghan Goodman, Senior HR Manager, University Recruiting, at Rackspace in Blacksburg, Virginia. Goodman led Moret on a tour of the company’s satellite office in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, pointing out climbing walls, latte stations, and natural landmark-themed break-out rooms, and explained that Rackspace’s key to success lies in its recruiting wins at Virginia Tech and Radford University.
With highly competitive IT programs at both Virginia Tech and Radford, Goodman explained, the New River Valley is an easy fit for Rackspace. Additionally, employees at the Blacksburg office tend to be long-tenured, with many transferring out of Blacksburg to San Antonio or San Francisco for a few years, but returning to establish their families and careers in the New River Valley.
At the end of his visit, Moret addressed almost 100 regional stakeholders at the Alliance’s quarterly luncheon and shared his vision for economic development in the Commonwealth. “Since 2009, when Virginia was the #1 Best State for Business, we’ve fallen steadily in the rankings,” he admitted. “Now,” he explained, “it’s time to bounce back.” Moret’s plans include increasing the Commonwealth’s marketing and adverting budget, focusing on bringing new jobs to Virginia in the technology and advanced manufacturing sectors, and building better partnerships between localities, regions, and VEDP.
Regarding his time in the New River Valley, Moret was highly complimentary. “This region is perfectly situated for a big IT or manufacturing project,” he told the luncheon attendees. Between an excellent quality of life, excellent higher education assets, and a collaborative business community, he explained, the region is a perfect fit for companies looking to expand their offices to smaller metro areas.
Looking to the future for both the Commonwealth and the New River Valley, Moret reminded the group, “Economic development is a team sport” – and we’re all key players in winning the game.
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.