Virginia Ranked the #7 Most Innovative State

NEW RIVER VALLEY, VA — The Commonwealth of Virginia was ranked the no. 7 most innovative state by Forbes. Advanced technology has greatly developed in Virginia and is expected to continue flourishing. In the original article, Forbes notes:

“[Virginia] is noteworthy for having the highest share of technology companies in the country. It ranked second for projected STEM job demand by 2020.”

Rackspace Web Hosting, Located in the VT Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, VA, boasts an open, laid-back work environment for their IT professionals.

Virginia’s New River Valley names Information Technology as one of the targeted industries for the region. Optimal office space, cutting-edge resources, and access to talent make the NRV an excellent fit for technology-related businesses. The lower cost of living and sophisticated culture in our collection of down-to-earth small towns make the region a great fit for people interested in working in IT.

Cover photo features the interior space at Qualtrax, a compliance software company located in Downtown Blacksburg.

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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.

Qualtrax Featured in Virginia Business

Qualtrax, a compliance software company in Montgomery County, VA, was featured in Virginia Business earlier this month. Qualtrax, which originated as a subsidiary of what is now Christiansburg’s FoxGuard Solutions has grown to 33 employees. Almost of half of whom were added this year.


Located in Downtown Blacksburg, Qualtrax preserved much of a former Masonic Lodge building. While they may call a historic building home, the new company has many modern amenities including a game room and a spot for employee slippers.

Read more from Stephenie Overman of Virginia Business. If you’re interested in rocking slippers to work, Qualtrax is currently hiring.


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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.

Area Development: British-Based D3O Opens North American Hub in Blacksburg, Virginia

D3O, a British-based impact protection company and market leader in protective wear and shock absorbing materials, opened a operating base in Blacksburg, Virginia. Located within the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, a research park for high-technology companies, the new D3O office, part of the company’s expansion in North America, will serve as the regional hub for sales, marketing and development functions.


Bill VanMullekom, SVP D3O LLC, said: “This move firmly marks our commitment to delivering the best in impact protection technologies to our customer base across North America.


Read the full article on Area Development.


Onward NRV Works to Reach Radford Alumni

Onward NRV Executive Director Charlie Jewell, joined by Award-Winning IT Professor Jeff Pittges, took a 2-day trip to Northern Virginia last week to help Radford University alumni reconnect to Virginia’s New River Valley.

By partnering with the RU Alumni Association, Jewell was able to deliver a 2-minute pitch in front of guests at the RU alumni networking event held at The Goal in Reston, VA. This event was an excellent opportunity to launch and give away some of the NRV branded boxes, which were handcrafted by St. Pierre Woodworking in Floyd, VA and contained goodies representing the NRV. Jewell also scheduled meetings with alumni business leaders to educate them on Onward’s work to attract and grow the four targeted industries for the region.

The goal was to help communicate the business advantages, job opportunities, and lifestyle amenities in the region to RU alumni. The outbound marketing was also meant to increase awareness of the advantages specifically in Information Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Food & Beverage Processing, and Unmanned Systems.

The idea to reach out to alumni was born of the research on the four targeted industries. Many business leaders noted that they are satisfied with their current employees, but harbor some concerns about finding enough employees when it comes time to expand their businesses. Therefore, Onward wants to reconnect with alumni living outside the area that may want to move back in the future in order to communicate what the region has to offer them.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: For those searching for a beautiful 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.

NRV #10 in High-Tech Employment Concentration

New River Valley, VA – The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford MSA (commonly known as Virginia’s New River Valley) is the 10th most concentrated metro for number of jobs in high-tech industry, according to an analysis by Select USA. Of jobs in the NRV, 24.5% are in the high-tech industry. According to the analysis, high tech jobs are those that, “rely heavily on a skilled and educated workforce, act as innovative producers in our economy, and create and utilize advanced technologies.”


Because of the current base of technologically advanced jobs in the NRV and the region’s suitability for hosting this job market, Information Technology is one of the target industries of focus for the NRV. Our focus on Information Technology can be broken down into 4 sub-categories: Software Development, IT Support Services, Cybersecurity, and Digital Creatives. High-tech jobs also fall under other targeted industries in the NRV like Unmanned Systems and Advanced Manufacturing.


Virginia’s New River Valley has some of the best access to talent in tech industries. Considering it is a great place to live with a more affordable, down-to-earth culture, and exceptional access to research and innovation, the NRV is a natural fit for growing high-tech companies.


For more information about the Select USA high-tech industry study, click here.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: For those searching for a beautiful 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.

Visitors from VEDP stand at the Falling Branch Corporate Park on a beautiful day.

VEDP Visits Virginia’s New River Valley

Sixteen team members from Virginia Economic Development Partnership, hosted by Onward NRV staff, visited Virginia’s New River Valley from August 23-24 to learn more about the region’s communities and targeted industries.

A group from VEDP prepares to tour the Phoenix Packaging facility in Pulaski County, Virginia

With an aggressive schedule, the team was able to make 15 stops on their short tour.

Robotic manufacturing arm at New River Community College in Pulaski County, Virginia

For Advanced Manufacturing, visits included a tour of Phoenix Packaging in Pulaski County and a tour and lunch at New River Community College to see the training programs in Electronics Technology, Instrumentation and Control Automation, and more.

The group was only willing to leave the 3D printers and unmanned robotics to view open sites in the NRV suited for manufacturing companies. (Former GE/Fairchild Building in Giles County, NRV Commerce Park in Pulaski County, Falling Branch Corporate Park in Montgomery County)


To learn more about Information Technology in the NRV, the group toured Rackspace to learn about existing industry and Radford University’s ARTIS lab, which provides a top-knotch learning environment for students who leave ready to enter the workforce.

Sign on the window of Radford University Artis Lab in Radford, VA

The group was also able to see suitable sites for IT companies such as the Floyd Innovation Center and Wheatland EcoPark in Giles County.

Outside the Floyd Innovation Center in Floyd County, VA.

Information about Food and Beverage Processing manifested in a tour of the Virginia Tech Food Science and Technology facilities including the Sensory Evaluation Lab, Food Safety Pilot Plant, the on campus brewhouse, and more.

A tour and wine tasting at Chateau Morrissette in Floyd County gave VEDP an inside look at existing industry in the NRV as well.

Outside of Chateau Morrissette in the mountains of Floyd County, VA.

The beauty of Virginia’s New River valley was not overlooked. The traveling during to tour allowed for beautiful scenic routes and stops at mountainous overlooks. A delicious breakfast at the Pete Dye River Course in Radford, VA provided an additional view of the New River. Meals during the tour were catered by Prestons at the River, The Blue Door Cafe at Draper Mercantile, The Palisades, and The Floyd Country Store.

The tour ended with a visit to New Rivers Edge Outfitters, which gave the crew a taste of the outdoors and a look at what living in Giles County and the rest of the New River Valley is like: A Natural Fit.

New RIvers Edge Outfitters
COO of Qualtrax, and IT Company in Blacksburg, VA, in Virginia's New River Valley.

NRV 3rd Among Metros with High Ratio of IT Graduates to Jobs

NEW RIVER VALLEY, VA- The Blacksburg metro, known locally as the New River Valley, recently ranked 3rd out of 25 among metros with high ratio of IT graduates to IT jobs. This ranking was published in the July/August edition of Expansion Solutions Magazine based on information in 2015 when the New River Valley had 1,000 IT graduates, putting the ratio of graduates to jobs at 1:1.


The New River Valley is home to three higher education institutions that offer a range of degrees in IT, including:

  • Virginia Tech: Department of Computer Science, Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Business Information Technology Department
  • Radford University Artis Information Technology Department
  • New River Community College Information Technology Department

The New RIver Valley has a growing IT industry. According to data from The Bureau of Labor and Statistics, from 2011-2016 the New River Valley as a whole has nearly 2,000 IT employees, marking a significant increase of 35% since 2011, which is well above both the state (3%) and national (12%) averages.


Bike with Rackspace logo for employees to ride around the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center

This puts IT companies in a place to thrive in Virginia’s New River Valley. Currently with 154 IT establishments, the NRV is becoming an IT hub that benefits from a lower cost of living and better quality of life for employees. Onward NRV, the region’s economic development organization has identified IT as a target industry for the New River Valley and is collaborating with leaders from business, government, and higher education to support and grow the sector in the region.


Overall, the IT industry offers a range of occupations and high average earnings. The presence of multiple higher education institutions, which offer programs and graduates in various technology related subjects provides a regional advantage. Based on recent job growth, industry presence, and related criteria, the IT sectors of focus for the region are Software Development, Cyber Security, IT Support Services, and Digital Creative Firms.


Female 1901 Group employee at computer with a mountainous backdrop.

Some current IT companies and major employers in the New River Valley include Qualtrax, Rackspace, FoxGuard Solutions, Citizens Cooperative, and Modea.


For more information about IT in the NRV visit the Targeted Industry Page on our website. For any additional questions, feel free to contact Onward NRV.


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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.

Stephen Moret Visits Virginia’s New River Valley

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.

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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.