Date: March 22, 2017
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 is a vibrant community that’s home to two state universities, Virginia Tech and Radford University, and a diverse industry base ranging from large international corporations to small technology startups. The region is designated the Blacksburg-Christiansburg Radford Metropolitan Statistical Area and encompasses the counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski and the city of Radford.
The New River Valley Economic Development Alliance is a public/private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to market the New River Valley, to foster job creation, facilitate new investment and to improve the quality of life in the region.