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Vibrant Virginia 1.0 Conversations

Vibrant Virginia invited faculty, and faculty-mentored graduate students to participate in regional community and economic development engagement events in each of the four key regions of the state (Southwest, Southside, Hampton Roads, and Northern Virginia). These conversations provided Virginia Tech faculty and stakeholder partners with an opportunity to share learnings from their experiences with current and prior economic and community development activities. As part of the event, participants had an opportunity to discuss and celebrate their accomplishments and highlight successes in each region. The conversations looked beyond current activities and dived into brainstorming on future partnerships, projects, and public policies to address the challenges in each region.

The Vibrant Virginia team held their first conversation in St. Paul, VA on June 12 & 13, 2018. Community stakeholders and Virginia Tech faculty held a discussion on how the university may serve as a better regional partner in the areas of Education & Workforce Development, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Agriculture & the Environment, and Community Development. For more information on this conversation please read the following news update: Southwest Virginia Regional Conversation.

The Vibrant Virginia team traveled to Hampton Roads on February 11-13, 2019 for its second community conversation. Community stakeholders and Virginia Tech faculty held a discussion on how the university may serve as a better regional partner in the areas of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Food Processing; Unmanned Systems; Manufacturing and STEM; and Coastal Policy and Resilience. Learn more about outcomes here: Hampton Roads Regional Conversation.

For their third conversation, the team traveled to Southside Virginia in June, 2019. The four conversations were spread between Farmville, Danville, South Boston, and South Hill between June 3-12 and covered the topics of Education Pipeline, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and Forestry, Advanced Manufacturing, and IT. Learn more about the outcomes here: Southside Virginia Regional Conversation.

Most recently, the Vibrant Virginia team traveled to Northern Virginia on November 4-6, 2019 to discuss Innovations in Workforce Development and Affordable Housing in the region. Outcomes from this conversation can be found here: Northern Virginia Regional Conversation.

If you would like to participate in the event or learn more about the development of conversation, please send an email to Sarah Lyon-Hill at sarahlh@vt.edu.  

Connections Made

Carl Zipper (VT Powell River Project) and Dr. Peter Sforza (VT CGIT) are exploring a joint project related to land cover and land use.

→ OED is working with Mike Quillen (EX VT BOV, GOVA R1 chair) to encourage VT’s participation in the Appalachian Homestead Initiative. Jonathan Everett, in VT’s Real Estate program, already has a class project underway to support this initiative.     

→ Sandy Ratliff (VA Community Capital) has connected Reed Kennedy (VT Pamplin) with SWVA businesses that offer projects for Pamplin’s introductory consulting class.

→ OED and Dr. Mike Schwarz (VT Seafood AREC) successfully collaborated on a $3 million US EDA grant for the construction of a new AREC facility in Hampton.

→ Eva Doss (Launch Place) has since served as a judge for several VT Apex events. 

→ Dr. Karen Ely Sanders (VT College Access Collaborative) and several school superintendents have explored VT participation in regional events for high school students.

→ OED, VT-CENI, VT Seafood AREC and the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School (Matthews, VA) are working on a GOVA application to serve the aquaculture industry.

→ VT ICTAS and MAAP raised awareness about their work in Hampton Roads, finding collaborators for VRIF and GOVA proposals.

→ Stakeholders in NOVA learned about workforce development programs already going on in Blacksburg, which could easily be transferred to assist NOVA residents.