NRV number 17 best college town

NRV Named #17 Best College Town by AIER

VIRGINIA’S NEW RIVER VALLEY – The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford MSA (known as the New River Valley) was ranked the number 17 best college town in America (2017) by the American Institute for Economic Research. The NRV is home to over 40,000 students thanks to Virginia Tech, Radford University, and New River Community College.

NRV best college town
“It should come as no surprise that Virginia Tech supplies Blacksburg with high levels of innovation. In terms of bars and restaurants, ask any Tech student and they’ll tell you to head downtown to T.O.T.S., Gillie’s, or Sharkey’s for some amazing brews and grub. The MSA of Blacksburg also includes Radford University, a key player in the regional economy.”

AIER compiled the Best College Town results based on economic, demographic, and quality of life data points. Each “college town” has a population of less than 250,000.

AIER also gave the NRV the number 3 ranking for bars and restaurants.

Virginia Tech and Radford University often receive accolades and top rankings for their academic programs and fun atmospheres. Most recently, Virginia was ranked as the #15 Best College Tailgate in the U.S.

For more info about the other college rankings, visit AIER.

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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.

NRV No. 11 Best Place to Work in Manufacturing

NEW RIVER VALLEY, VA – The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford Metro Area, commonly known as the New River Valley, was ranked the No. 11 Best Place to Work in Manufacturing by smartasset in their study this year. Data on 483 metro areas was considered and ranked according to six factors:
  • Manufacturing as a percent of workforce
  • Job growth from 2012 to 2015
  • Job growth from 2014 to 2015
  • Income growth from 2010 to 2015
  • Income growth from 2014 to 2015
  • Income after housing
  Advanced manufacturing can be found throughout Virginia’s New River Valley. The region is home to several major employers including Volvo (Pulaski County), Corning Inc. (Montgomery County), Celanese (Giles County), Kollmorgen (Radford), and Hollingsworth & Vose (Floyd County). Plus, training programs at New River Community College directly support the skills needed to work at companies in our region.  
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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.

NRV Among Top Affordable Metros Attracting YPs

NEW RIVER VALLEY, VA- Virginia’s New River Valley (The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford MSA) ranks among the top metros that are attracting young professionals while maintaining an affordable cost of living. According to PEW, the NRV is among 10 metros that are growing almost as quickly as other well-known, attractive cities for young people like Silicon Valley or Austin, TX, but have more affordable costs of living.  

Still Affordable, But Attracting Young Professionals

These metro areas ranked high for affordability, education, and growth in young professionals.
Columbus, INBismarck, ND
Midland, MIMorgantown, WV
Bloomington, ILCedar Rapids, IA
Idaho Falls, IDNew River Valley, VA
Sioux Falls, NDRochester, MN
The data comes from the American Community Survey and was analyzed by Stateline.
Virginia’s New River Valley, has a unique opportunity for young professionals. Our region enjoys the upscale amenities residents might find in larger urban areas (like public transit and fine dining), while maintaining the perks of low-cost living and small-town charm (like low traffic, and access to outdoor recreation).   The presence of Virginia Tech, Radford University, and New River Community College elevate the importance of education in the region and provide excellent amenities in arts and culture and opportunities for young people and businesses alike to interact with the universities and benefit from their services.  
The NRV was also ranked a top destination for college graduates based on eight economic and quality-of-life factors that AIER found to influence migration patterns of college grads ages 22-35 among 260 metro areas, large and small. A few of the factors contributing to the New River Valley’s high ranking included its favorable labor market conditions, affordable housing rents, ability to get around without a car, and density of people with a college degree.
YPs can find plenty of support in the NRV with clubs and networking opportunities such as Up on the Roof, Blacksburg YPs, The Newcomers Club, and more.   Plus, the NRV is home to a myriad of festivals and burgeoning local music scenes that keep up with the times while remembering the roots of SWVA throughout history. For more activities and insight on what it’s like to live in the NRV, check out the Live Here tab!  
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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.
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.

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.

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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.

Entrepreneur Month Workshops in the NRV

Date:  November 9, 2016

New River Valley Economic Development Alliance

New River Valley, VA – This November, the New River Valley, along with communities all across America, are celebrating National Entrepreneurship Month by hosting community workshops.  These workshops aim to educate and empower individuals interested in starting or expanding their small businesses in the region, and will be led by local business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Learn more about how you can join a local entrepreneurship workshop and launch your next big idea in the New River Valley!

The Entrepreneurship Option

When: Thursday, November 10, from 6 – 8 pm

Where: New River Community College, NRV Mall Site, 400 New River Road, Christiansburg, VA 24073

Cost: $10

Register: http://bit.ly/entrepreneurship112016

New River Community College is teaming up with VT KnowledgeWorks to offer a one-night entrepreneurship workshop.  This workshop will help participants understand what it takes to embark on the entrepreneurship path and is open to anyone considering starting their own business.

Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, will share his knowledge and experience on a variety of topics including things to consider before starting a business, common misconceptions about small businesses and fundamental characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs.  He will also offer individualized attention to answer questions and advise attendees of the session.

Register in advance at http://bit.ly/entrepreneurship112016.

 

Entrepreneur Express

When: Wednesday, November 16, from 9 am – Noon

Where: Pearisburg Town Hall, 112 Tazewell Street, Pearisburg, VA 24134

Cost: Free

Register: www.vastartup.org

In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the New River Valley Regional Commission, the Virginia Department of Small Business & Supplier DiversityOpportunity Southwest Virginia and the Roanoke Small Business Development Center have partnered to host a FREE training event. The Entrepreneur Workshop connects small business owners, and those thinking about becoming entrepreneurs with programs and resources to help move their plans forward.  The program includes interactive discussions and exercises covering key elements of business practices and will be presented by Virginia’s small business support partners.

Advanced registration is required.  Please register at www.vastartup.org.

If you have any questions, please contact Patrick O’Brien at the New River Valley Regional Commission at 540-639-9313.

About Us:

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.

NRCC Students Primed for Careers in Advanced Manufacturing

NEW RIVER VALLEY, VA— This past month, the New River Valley Alliance was invited to tour New River Community College, along with Radford University’s President Brian Hemphill and several other community and business leaders. The tour and discussions focused on how NRCC prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing and technology.

New River Community College emphasizes real-world experience, and one of its goals is to develop curricula that enable students to find jobs in their field here in the New River Valley.  Not only does the college invest in the latest manufacturing technologies, but it also partners with local businesses to tailor programs to an employer’s specific needs (i.e. if there is a particular material that companies want future employees to be skilled in using, the business often donates samples of the material to NRCC to use).

In the Machine Technology program, John Somervell, Assistant Professor of Machine Shop Technology, teaches a group of 35 to 40 students each year the techniques required for a twenty-first century machinist.  It’s a tight space filled with simulators, lathes, and milling machines, and John explained that he can’t place students fast enough.  Although he advises students to complete their two-year degree to earn higher wages, some inevitably leave the program early for full-time employment—their skillset is that high in demand.

The program equips students to become machine tool operators—lathe operators, drill press operators, inspectors and tool crib attendants—all positions that employers like Federal MogulKollmorgenMoogWolverine Advanced Materials, and other New River Valley employers need.

The Instrumentation and Control Automation program, on the other hand, prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing at employers like CelaneseAmerican Electric PowerHollingsworth & Vose, andTechLab.  With a starting salary well into the $50 to 60k+ range, Instrumentation is popular at NRCC with over 150 students enrolled in the two-year program (55 students in their final year).

Much of the Instrumentation program’s success is due to Montie Fleshman, Professor of Instrumentation Technology, who piloted several innovative flex courses that incorporate both online and classroom teaching.  Since students can now access recorded lectures online, incompletion rates dropped from 30% to 3%.  Montie also dialogues with employers to develop new labs that meet workforce needs.  As a result, New River Community College created a state-of-the-art mechatronics lab which teaches students how to combine electronics, mechanics, and computing into a streamlined process—a skillset that most advanced manufacturing and engineering employers look for in today’s graduates.

Advanced Manufacturing today requires that students learn a mix of electronic, mechanic, and computer science skills—whether testing a gas turbine or producing advanced materials for the automotive industry.  From teaching students the newest in techniques and technologies to introducing them to local employers looking to expand their workforce, New River Community College primes students for successful careers in advanced manufacturing.

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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.