Virginia Business Highlights Regional Collaborations

New River Valley, VA – Onward NRV was recently featured in Virginia Business magazine. An article, titled “Generation Next”, describes the new wave of “super collaborators” driving economic development in and around the New River Valley.

The article details the relatively fresh economic leadership within the New River Valley and Roanoke regions saying, “many of the top positions in the region’s public and private sector economic development engines have turned over in the past couple of years. But most of the people taking their places are hardly newcomers to the region or even their organizations.”

Katie Boswell, who previously oversaw marketing for Onward NRV, became executive director of the organization last December. Thanks to the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in-person meetings are, for the time being, once again safe to resume. Boswell reflects on the benefits of being able to gather in person to strategize with other economic development engines saying:

“During much of 2020 and 2021, these new leaders couldn’t gather in person to talk through plans and strategies. “Now that things have opened up, we’re able to get together more,” Boswell says. “Our mission and our goal is to attract and retain world-class jobs and talent.”
“That would be nearly impossible without the groundwork done by former economic development officials”, Boswell and the other new leaders say.

In a shining example of early collaboration, Onward NRV, in partnership with the Roanoke and Lynchburg regions, took part in a 2018 GO Virginia-funded study. In the survey titled “Project Brain Drain: Talent Attraction and Retention,” the collaborators sought to better understand why students from 15 higher education institutes often leave the greater region after graduation. It also sought to identify ways to attract and retain college-educated professionals


(L to R) Katie Boswell, executive director of Onward New River Valley; Erin Burcham, president of Verge and executive director for the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council; and John Hull, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership, is among a new generation of regional economic development leaders forging partnerships. Photo by Don Petersen

Onward NRV strives to continue to stimulate regional job growth and investment in four targeted industries as part of the organization’s five-year economic development strategy.

Read the full article from Virginia Business here.

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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