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Mar 08

Regionalism and Strength from Within

Posted on March 8, 2021 at 1:49 PM by Melinda Mayo

In my last post I discussed the way our organization responds to the Strategic Plan prepared by the City Council, specifically focusing on the core values we adhere to as we conduct our business and deliver public services.  With this post, I will focus on the framework within which we act.

Regional Game Changers

As a City organization, we have joined a multitude of regional organizations to advance on a number of long-term “game-changers” for our area.  These include focusing on healthcare and well-being, biotechnology, outdoor-based tourism, technology, and advanced manufacturing.  Our partnerships include the Roanoke Regional Partnership, Roanoke Innovates, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, Western Virginia Industrial Facilities Authority, Western Virginia Broadband Authority, the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program, and many others.  Combined, these are the partnerships and initiatives that will carry our regional economy and quality of life into a prosperous future.  

Strength from Within

While we, along with our partners, advance on regional, long-range objectives, we must also focus on more immediate concerns, and support the ability for each of our residents, households, businesses, and neighborhoods to access as much opportunity as practical.  This includes ensuring the services we deliver are as effective, efficient, and equitable as possible.  This also requires us to identify where weaknesses or disparities might exist, and then seek solutions to address these.  Examples include current disparities in health outcomes, resulting in great differences in life expectancy of residents based upon the zip code for the area where they reside.  Much of this disparity is due not to a lack of access to medical care, but rather to poverty, educational attainment, poor housing conditions, and other social determinants of health outcomes.  Another example is the disparities we see in access to affordable healthy food. Entire neighborhoods in our City are without easy access to a full-service grocer.  

These challenges are met with additional collaborations with the likes of Carilion Clinic, the United Way, LEAP, and many others.  Initiatives such as the Financial Empowerment Center, LEAP Mobile Market, and our neighborhood target projects are a few examples of our organizational response at this level.  Success in these areas will help ensure that as many residents as possible benefit from the regional, long-range objectives noted previously.

In the next post, I will build upon this framework and our core values by describing more specifically how we as an organization take action, as I focus on the strategies deployed in our daily work.

-- Bob Cowell


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