You always hear when a company, like Ply Gem, is coming to the area or hiring more people. But you don't hear the missed opportunities, says Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Altizer. He admits our region is overlooked by companies willing to invest millions and hire hundreds.
"We are not positioned to be able to talk to businesses that want 40 or more acres and it is flat and graded and ready to go and utilities there. You go to parts of Franklin County they have everything but gas. And in some localities they don't have the land," says Altizer.
Altizer is hoping to bring seven cities and counties together to use all of their resources to attract businesses for the entire area. As Roanoke City manager Chris Morrill put it, each area has a piece to the puzzle.
"What the city brings to the table is a vibrant urban core which helps bring business, and what you will see in rural areas is room for larger businesses and manufacturing," says Morrill.
The goal moving forward is to find companies to employee hundreds of people, and put a dent in the unemployment rate. One idea is for the seven localities to split the cost of developing a piece of property.
"Buy one or two pieces of property and then invest in one of them or two of them and get a couple of sites ready to start entertaining. You figure that cost is not a cost or many government cans do single handedly," says Altizer.
Montgomery County has been tapped as an area known for attracting businesses and a growing economy. Board of Supervisor's chairman Jim Politis says they can bring their strategies for success using the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center as an example.
"They develop several small businesses and they have grown and expanded in Montgomery County," says Politis.
Bringing all of the ideas together, leaders hope to make this area competitive and not miss out on any more opportunities to grow.