The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL50

VALLEY LIFE

Business

50 2020 VALLEY LIFE

The outdoors vibe has also helped grow small
businesses. Roanoke Mountain Adventures,
UnderDog Bikes and Twin River Outfitters are all
startups that have bloomed because of Roanoke's
hiking-biking-paddling scenes.
The recreation industry is boosting the local
economy in surprising ways, too. Events like
the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon and the
newly landed Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 raise
Roanoke's recognizability. As today's workforce
increasingly seeks jobs based on where they want
to live, the region's breathtaking vistas and clean
creeks have become something of a currency -
but only if people know they exist.
"Livability ... is more and more a part of the
equation," says Doughty. "If you'd asked me this
20 years ago, I would have said, 'No, that doesn't
really matter.' There's now more of an emphasis
on work-life balance and our area is conducive
to this."
That has helped attract new talent to Carilion
Clinic, an organization that, with Virginia Tech and
Radford University, is powering a transformation of
Roanoke. In 2019 alone, Carilion announced a $300
million expansion of its flagship hospital, Roanoke

Virginia Tech Carilion
School of Medicine and
Research Institute

DAN SMITH

universities in a 60-mile radius of Roanoke; creating
workforce training programs in high schools, Virginia
Western Community College and the Roanoke
Higher Education Center; and working with area
governments to identify buildings and land suitable
for interested industries. The establishment of
business startup support groups such as the
Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council's RAMP
and The Advancement Foundation's Gauntlet
Business Program are also key.
Perhaps the biggest boon has been a regional
rebranding that has taken root over the past
decade.
"Ten years ago, when someone asked about
Roanoke, people said: 'It's an old railroad town.'
Now they say: 'It's an outdoors town,'" explains
the Partnership's Doughty. "That's really changed
how we look at our own community."
That outdoors identity has helped spark eight
straight years of growth in the tourism industry.
In 2017, the region collected some $850 million
in travel expenditures, according to the U.S.
Travel Association. The number of hotel rooms,
restaurant tables and craft brewery barstools has
only risen since then.



The Roanoker - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - January/February 2020

The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Intro
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - 3
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The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - 5
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The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL1
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL2
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL3
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL4
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The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL43
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The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL46
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL47
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL48
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL49
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL50
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL51
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL52
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL53
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - VL54
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