Blacksburg growth: How Virginia Tech, county leaders are preparing

Virginia Tech, Montgomery Co. leaders discuss effects of expansion

By Tommy Lopez - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

BLACKSBURG, Va. - After announcements this week involving growth in computer science and information technology in the New River Valley, 10 News is asking Virginia Tech and Montgomery County leaders about what they’re doing to prepare for the changes.

IT expansion
The information technology company 1901 Group is expanding, investing $4 million and adding 580 jobs over the next three years at its Blacksburg location. Gov. Ralph Northam announced the news Thursday.

The company will build a new 40,000-square-foot space in a new building at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

The company’s founders are Virginia Tech graduates and want to bring the expansion to Blacksburg -- where it all began -- as opposed to investing in their northern Virginia location.

“People are excited and enthusiastic,” said Dana Pittman, senior vice president of human resources. “Blacksburg offers a quality of life, a lower cost of living, access to thousands of students that we see can be the future of IT.” 

The company provides cloud services, among others, and works on setup, storage, maintenance and security. It has mostly federal government contracts.

Montgomery County
Montgomery County officials are excited and are planning for the growth.

“That's a great problem to have,” said Chris Tuck, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, of the people moving to the area. “It's kind of like winning the lottery and complaining that you have to pay taxes. You're happy to win.”

There are already projects underway involving school expansion and handling traffic, and the continued growth could mean more initiatives are coming in the future.

“Yes, there are going to be some challenges, but we believe we're ready to meet those challenges,” Tuck said.

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech will welcome 2,000 more computer science students to Blacksburg over the next five years. The announcement came with the news Tuesday that its Innovation Campus in northern Virginia helped Amazon decide to put a second headquarters there.

Officials said plans to handle more students have been in the works for years.

“We're going to be building other buildings to meet the needs of a growing enrollment,” said Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski. “As part of the planning process, we've mapped out a suggested path. That's what the campus master plan is. It's a road map to get us where we want to achieve our broader goal of growth.”

He said the push for increased enrollment, the expansion of other campuses and putting infrastructure in place to handle the growth, among other objectives, have been a part of President Tim Sands’ focus for the last four years.

More than two years of work went into the recent update of the master plan earlier this month. The plans include new classrooms and new dorms, including one that’s going up this summer.

The school plans to address many of the challenges that come with expansion, including where the best locations are for new buildings and how to handle traffic.

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