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81 Reasons to Connect was presented by Jay Foster, President of SoftSolutions, Inc., to a meeting of the membership of the NewVa Corridor Technology Council (NCTC) on November 19,2009, in Blacksburg, …

81 Reasons to Connect was presented by Jay Foster, President of SoftSolutions, Inc., to a meeting of the membership of the NewVa Corridor Technology Council (NCTC) on November 19,2009, in Blacksburg, Virginia. "81" refers to Interstate 81 which connects locales in what is defined as the NewVa Corridor Technoloy Council Region.
One of the purposes of the presentation was to explore the possibilities for fostering a technology industry by creating a regional brand and identity.

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  • GOOD MORNING! Thank you for the warm introduction. It’s great to see such a large turn-out so bright and early in the morning! As Ed mentioned, I pretty much grew up in Christiansburg, graduated from CHS, I’m actually a 3 rd generation Hokie, and have lived in Roanoke for the past 18 yrs. In other words, I’m very familiar with the commute up the mountain. Actually, let’s do a quick check – HOW MANY drove up from Roanoke this beautiful November morning? How many of the rest of you have driven DOWN to Roanoke for an NCTC event? OK!!! Clearly we are in the midst of a truly REGIONAL organization!
  • Obviously our main theme this morning is REGIONALISM. Specifically…
  • Let’s take another quick Poll – how many folks believe that NOVA REGION currently provides more economic opportunities that our Region does TODAY? OK… How about Richmond – how many people believe they provide more ECONOMIC opportunity exists in our NCTC REGION? OK… How about Danville/Martinsville? NOW we’re talking!!! Let’s look at the numbers – at least thru 2000. The last time we tracked the USA employment growth rate was ABOUT 30 yrs. Ago. Hmmm. Notice we’ve NEVER beat it, just kept up with it.
  • Here is another view from back in 2000 – unfortunately just the ROANOKE MSA. How did it rank? There are about 400 MSAs, and we ranked 250 – the lower 50%! Now, if this were collegiate football, surely SOMEONE would be looking for a new coach!!! Right?? I believe that is actually one of our problems – who is responsible for driving our REGIONAL economic strategy? Clearly we need to replace them!
  • One the positive side, let’s take a look at some of the great TECHNOLOGY regions in our country, I believe there are some common traits/patterns that the Successful ones share… Presence of a major Research University Access to Capital Strong Networks Supportive infrastructure Obviously, just like a good business model, there are patterns or formulas that lead to thriving regions. I would summarize most of these traits under a simple umbrella of REGIONAL COOPERATION – which takes strong, effective leadership. Do you think folks in Chapel Hill get upset when Raleigh is shown as the RTP? What about Foster City/San Mateo when San Jose gets the visual for Silicon Valley? Actually, there was quite a bit of leadership back in the mid-1990s that resulted in the New Century Region – let’s recognize some of the folks here this morning – Ray, Ed, Ken, Mary, others?? There was a LOT of hard work to launch the New Century Region – this breakfast meeting (and NCTC) is a direct result of that leadership. We certainly owe these folks a round of applause for helping us get to this point!
  • Richard Florida did some interesting research and determined there are some new drivers that go along with this NEW Economy. Basically, the ‘new’ economy is the knowledge-based economy. It is an economy driven not by agriculture or industrial production, but by innovation and intellectual property. This new form of ‘Capital’ comes from what Florida calls the Creative Class. Florida also found that this Creative Class tends to find where they want to live BEFORE the find where they want to work. QUALITY OF LIFE is important. That’s very good news for us! If there is one thing we’ve DEFINITELY got – it’s a Great Quality of Life. WE know that. The problem is that those Creative Class types that are leaving the rat race and grind of worn out regions do NOT…
  • That brings us to the mission of 81 Reasons to Connect – we are a group of UNPAID volunteers that came out of a Creative Class workshop held in Roanoke. We are a mix of both Roanoke and NRV members – several of our folks were able to make it this morning – please raise your hands. Please network with these folks afterwards or exchange biz cards. Our focus is actually pretty simple – we just want to raise awareness on why REGIONALISM and specifically packaging up the incredible assets that we have between the NRV and Roanoke can help us attract more Creative Class professions. With those professionals, we believe we’ll see an economic engine come to LIFE! Existing companies can growth faster, new companies can be launched, venture capital will be attracted to the region – and the positive cycle continues to get re-enforced. Florida talks about the 4 T’s – things like Talent, Technology, Tolerance, and Territorial Assets.
  • Our focus is on TERRITORIAL ASSETS. First of all, let’s take a look at what we are calling the 81 Corridor. Just raising awareness on a sense of identity/place is one simple thing we can accomplish today. Let’s take a look at just some of the Territorial Assets that exist between mile markers 109 and 146 – roughly a 35 mile stretch of Virginia’s I-81 cooridor. Let’s take a look at one of the KEY assets of the new economy – institutions of higher education… We are LOADED! How many people have seen a visual of these assets put together??
  • Research & Development is another key asset – once again, most of us here are aware of the growing influence of VA Tech and the Carilion Clinic – but what about the rest of the country? Again, how many people have seen marketing materials that highlight Hokie Stone with the downtown urban amenities of Roanoke?
  • Job opportunities are another key. This is especially critical with a trailing Spouse – something that Cory has done some excellent work with – being the trailing spouse that he is! How many prospective employees come into our region and get an appreciation of the OVERALL high-tech employment opportunities we can offer? I was reminded of this last week – I was at a trade show in Toronto with a software partner that is located in up-state NY. They located in a TINY town (more like a village) about an hour outside of Albany. I was talking with their lead trainer, who commutes 300 miles round trip from his home and shares a rented house with another employee during the week. They are having serious challenges hiring people. They have a terrific product and a great team – but when new recruits come for a visit, after the 2 nd day, they say, ‘there’s no way in hell I’m living here’. Contrast that with a place like RTP or Austin or Seattle! Unlike that little village of 2,000 people in upstate NY, At this point, we have ALL the goods, we’ve just not done a good job of marketing and branding…
  • I’d say most of us would agree that it’s the OUTDOOR assets that we really rock on. Just think of the range of options – from VA Tech football, to Mill Mountain, to McCoy Falls, to the Cascades… Perhaps our biggest asset of all is this guy right here – COACH BEAMER!!! THIS GUY has probably done more for putting our REGION on the map than ALL other groups combined! Actually, if we could get Coach Beamer to be our Head Economic Developer – I’d imagine he’d have this expression a lot right about now… How in the world could we be ranked 250??? when we’ve got this kind of talent on our team???
  • It comes down to 2 great regions that are separated by one small mountain. Like any good business leader, I believe Coach Beamer would look at our core strengths… and say, ‘what will it take to combine these strengths’?? Surely the whole is greater than the sum of the parts!
  • What would be the pay-off for becoming a nationally known REGION? What kinds of things (other than the Creative Class) would be attracted here? Here’s one that’s probably near and dear to all of us! What are some other GREAT advantages that could come from a unified REGION? What are some TOP BENEFITS that people want to throw out?
  • There are plenty of models across the USA on how to do this right…
  • Actually, we don’t need to look that far. Our next door Region is doing an outstanding job. They have consolidated their 4 counties around the city of Lynchburg to act as a single, unified REGION. (CHECK the Time - tell story of Wayne Strickland??)
  • I don’t know about you, but I’ve talked about this enough over the years! I’m ready to see something tangible happen to move us forward. There is plenty of things we can DO once we are crystal clear on what we want to BE… I do NOT believe REGIONALISM will come from the public sector. I believe it will come from people like you and me – that have an enlightened self-interest to see more economic opportunity come to our region. Let’s set the expectations and hold each other accountable. And just like with a good business success, let’s enjoy the ride along the way.

Transcript

  • 1. 81 Reasons to Connect – Regional Strategies for Success
  • 2. Presentation Overview
    • How are we doing as a Region?
    • Richard Florida’s Creative Class concepts
    • 81 Reasons to Connect Vision
    • Territorial/Regional Assets - Strengths & Opportunities
    • Questions and Discussion
  • 3. Question: How are we doing as a Metro-Region?
  • 4. Question: How are we doing as a Metro-Region?
  • 5. Why do some Regions become truly GREAT? Seattle, WA (Technology Corridor) Raleigh, NC (RTP) San Jose, CA (Silicon Valley) Boston, MA (Route 128 Corridor)
  • 6. Models for WINNING in the new economy Creative Class professionals are the dynamo behind successful economic growth in today’s knowledge-based economy. Regions that can attract & retain these highly skilled workers will succeed. Regions that cannot attract these professionals will continue to struggle. As noted by Richard Florida (2002), this Creative class of workers place significant emphasis on their Quality of Life when choosing where to locate and work. It’s about PLACE .
  • 7. Vision - Mission ‘81 Reasons to Connect’ seeks to identify and communicate the economic and social benefits of a combined Roanoke and New River Valley Metro-Region that will be recognized as a preferred destination for Creative Class professionals. We will be presenting the top Reasons to Connect at a Regional Summit scheduled for March of 2010 at Radford University We need your help in developing and communicating this critical vision!
  • 8. Virginia’s 81 Corridor – Creative Class Assets Radford U VA Tech Roanoke College Hollins U
  • 9. 81 Corridor – Creative Class Research & Development Assets Center for Research & Technology VA Tech Corporate Research Center Riverside Centre for Research and Technology Smart Road
  • 10. Creative Class Professional Employment Opportunities
  • 11. 81 Corridor – Outdoor Recreational assets
  • 12. We need YOUR help to take our Region to the next level Roanoke MSA
    • Counties
      • Giles
      • Montgomery
      • Pulaski
    • Independent Cities
      • Radford
    • Pop: 158,328
    • Per Capita: $17,184
    • Counties
      • Botetourt
      • Craig
      • Franklin
      • Roanoke
    • Independent Cities
      • Roanoke
      • Salem
    Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford MSA (New River Valley = NRV) Pop: 296,532 Per Capita: $20,390 Combined Metro Pop: 454,860 Per Capita: ? Phds per Capita: ? College Students: ?
  • 13. What are the benefits of a unified Region? With 500,000 citizens (over 700,000 if we tap into Lynchburg MSA) Transform Roanoke Regional from a small hub serving Roanoke to being THE Major air transportation center West of Richmond and North of Greensboro Focus all key corporate travelers and higher Ed travels to fly through Roanoke Attract low cost carriers that will accelerate the growth/expansion of Roanoke Airport
  • 14. Proven Models that work – from across the USA REENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA Vi sion 2025 – How Greenville, South Carolina Proposes to Use Creative Class Theory and Smart Growth to Develop Their Economy In tandem with smart growth is the priority of many regional economies to attract and retain the flow of human creative capital. Greenville is one city that has recently investigated this kind of growth strategy Population of 56,006 people, urbanized area population of 379,616 Situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains midway between Atlanta and Charlotte, the city’s downtown would have been a natural stop for travelers making the trip on I-85
  • 15. LOCAL Models that work – what is holding us back?
  • 16. What we can ALL do to make a difference
    • Promote & Support REGIONAL Organizations such as the NCTC
    • Support Funding for a Regional Marketing identity/branding piece
    • Join us in encouraging Economic Development Agency & Local Government officials to form joint commissions that align our Regional Identity:
      • Smart Way Bus & more mass transit options across the Region
      • Upgrades to the Roanoke Regional Airport
      • High-speed fiber ring between Roanoke & VA Tech
      • VA Tech/Carilion Research Initiatives
      • Joint Planning Commission initiatives
      • Joint Chambers of Commerce initiatives
      • Intermodal Transportation Center at Dixie Caverns
    • Become a Regional Ambassador!