The Roanoker - January/February 2018 - VL56
expects to see $300 million dollars invested at Summit View
The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority has installed at
least 80 miles of underground fiber optic lines capable of carrying high speed broadband internet, making it accessible to business zones. "Localities are confident in its potential to make our
business communities attractive to new companies, as well as
allowing local businesses to increase their competitiveness," said
Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea about broadband during his 2017
State of the City Address.
Another major boost could be reforms in Washington that
lower corporate tax rates. Optical Cable Corporation welcomed
White House Counsel Kellyanne Conway and National Association of Manufacturers president Jay Timmons to Roanoke last fall
for a town hall meeting on that issue. CEO and President Neal
Wilkin says OCC would welcome a tax break: "Whether it's reduced regulation or tax reform or other pro-business activities,
that really helps OCC ... and the community."
Small business is still the cog that drives economic development. Witness QualiChem, which took home the Chamber's Small
Business of the Year Award in 2016. The Salem-based company
manufactures water treatment chemicals and metalworking fluids. QualiChem President Glenn Frank came back to Roanoke in
2000, overseeing a company that has grown from six employees
and $600,000 in annual sales to one with $42 million in sales last
year and 80 employees, almost 60 in Salem. If there's any hiccup
says Frank, it's that in a valley with a low unemployment rate
sometimes it is more difficult to find qualified workers.
Roanoke County administrator Tom Gates, now in his fourth
56 | 2018 VALLEY LIFE MAGAZINE
QUALICHEM: COURTESY OF QUALICHEM
QUALICHEM WON THE 2016 BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD FROM THE ROANOKE CHAMBER.