AIER Ranks the New River Valley a 2017 Top College Destination

Date:  February 15, 2017

New River Valley, VA – The New River Valley is among the top college destinations in the country, according to the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).  The Institute recently ranked the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as the #17 college destination in the U.S. among other college town MSAs with populations less than 250,000.  The New River Valley’s Cost of Living (No. 5) and Economic Activity (No. 4) were two factors that contributed to its high ranking.

AIER’s annual College Destinations Index analyzed 269 MSAs with colleges and universities around the country and ranked them based on several factors related to social and cultural life, as well as post-graduation work opportunities.  According to AIER:

“The ‘college experience’ is about more than simply attending a top-notch university.  The city or town where the school is located also is important.  The people the students meet, the places they go, and the jobs they may hold are essential supplements to formal education.”

This “college experience” is what makes the New River Valley such a unique place for students to study, work, and play.  Home to four different colleges and universities—Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM)New River Community CollegeRadford University, and Virginia Tech—the region mixes small town charm and unparalleled outdoor amenities with world-class research and work-study opportunities.

Collaboration and partnership with local industries are the hallmarks of New River Valley colleges and Universities.  Some of these partnerships include:

*  Radford University’s ARTIS Lab enables Information Technology students to work hand-in-hand with local business partners to solve real-life problems in IT, data management, and cybersecurity each semester.

*  New River Community College partners with local companies in both its Machine Technology program and its Instrumentation and Control Automation program to work with the materials and machines that are most in-demand for graduates of its programs.

*  Virginia Tech’s successful Cooperative Education Program enables undergraduate students to gain real-world, full-time, career-related work experience during college.  The College of Engineering’s program allows students to pursue co-ops at local, New River Valley employers like Luna Innovations, Wolverine Advanced Materials, Corning, Polymer Solutions, Aeroprobe, and among others.

*  VCOM’s Appalachian Outreach program pairs students with allied healthcare professionals to provide wellness screenings, free clinics, and other programs to provide both practical experiences for students and much needed medical care for underserviced communities.

Outside of the classroom, students can hike over fifty miles of the Appalachian Trail, bike over eighty miles of singletrack or greenways, boat at Claytor Lake, or canoe or kayak the second oldest river in the world—all within the New River Valley.

The region is also a hub for arts and cultural events.  Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center showcases talent like the Munich Symphony Orchestra or the Philip Glass Ensemble, and the Floyd Country Store upholds the history and evolution of Appalachian music at its weekly Friday Night Jamboree.  Numerous restaurants like 622 North, pictured above, provide intimate performance venues for local or regional musicians.

With ten towns and one city forming the backbone of the New River Valley, popular shops, restaurants, and coffee houses serve any number of regional students, faculty, and staff.  Nestled in the college downtowns of Blacksburg and Radford, two historic, independent theaters—The Lyricand the Radford Theater—offer movie buffs an ever-changing selection of independent movies, documentaries, special screenings, and film festivals throughout the year.

With resources like these, it’s easy to see why the New River Valley was ranked one of the top college destinations in the U.S.  To learn more, visit the AIER College Destinations Index 2017.


Virginia’s New River Valley: For those searching for an inspiring place to live and do business, Virginia’s New River Valley provides both an eclectic small town atmosphere and an innovative, collaborative business community with a loyal, highly skilled, and educated workforce. Offering the best of both worlds – magnificent mountains, cutting-edge research, arts, entertainment, and education – it’s 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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