Richmond, VA – Virginia’s New River Valley was featured in a recent article titled, “A New Frontier for Tech Talent,” in the Q3 edition of the Virginia Economic Review. The article focuses on how IT companies are finding success locating in more rural small metros in Virginia, including the NRV.
Here is what the article had to say about Virginia’s New River Valley:
1901 Group CEO and founder Sonu Singh had a vision. Some 13 years ago, Singh began thinking about what the second Industrial Revolution would look like in IT; in other words, how an assembly-line philosophy might apply to enterprise IT services. “The origin of our company, the essence of our firm, is about automation, is about streamlining, is about continual improvement,” Brendan Walsh, senior vice president of partner relations for 1901 Group explains.
To run a company where such continual improvement would be possible, Singh needed a place that would satisfy a three-part equation: “access to talent, high quality of life, and low cost of operations,” said Walsh. Singh found it in Blacksburg, home of his alma mater, Virginia Tech.
In addition to Virginia Tech, the New River Valley serves as home to Radford University and New River Community College. These institutions contribute a steady pipeline of talent for innovative area companies. The region offers magnificent mountains, eclectic small-town vibes, arts and culture, and a business-friendly, academically enriched environment. Rich in outdoor activities and breathtaking views, residents of the region enjoy a high quality of life at a reasonable cost.
A decade after its founding, 1901 Group provides IT infrastructure monitoring and management, application migration to the cloud, and cybersecurity services for major clients, including federal agencies. While headquartered in Northern Virginia, it employs 200 people in Blacksburg, with plans to hire up to 580 people there over the next four years. The company recently broke ground on a 45,000-square-foot Enterprise IT Operations Center.
It joins nearly 200 other tech- and research-related companies in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, collectively employing more than 3,000 people. Another is Block.one, a Hong Kong-based provider of high-performance blockchain solutions. Blacksburg is one of Block.one’s key global locations and has provided the company with a rich source of talent in software development, product management, information technology, and other areas. The company has built a close relationship with Virginia Tech, donating $3 million to the Department of Computer Science to help students build blockchain skills. Block.one’s co-founder and CTO, Dan Larimer, is a regular guest lecturer who advises the university on the emerging blockchain-focused curricula. Larimer is a Virginia Tech alumnus, too.
“It isn’t a hard sell at all to get people who grew up or went to school in this area to come back,” says Alec Siegel, managing partner of Blacksburg recruiting firm Siegel Link. He ticks off the advantages: affordable houses, fantastic schools, outdoor recreation, the energy from Virginia Tech and Radford University, and access to developable sites in charming downtowns in communities like Radford and Pulaski.
It’s easy to keep great people, too, Walsh says. “If you develop and grow the talent, if you invest in your people and develop that skillset, you want them to stay with you and stay in that area. It’s common-sense management.”
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.