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Aug 12

Something Special

Posted on August 12, 2019 at 2:33 PM by Melinda Mayo

I had a couple of experiences last week that reminded me just how special Roanoke is, and that what we have going on here should not be taken too casually.  

Excellent Partners

I was part of a small group of economic development and technologically minded folks who traveled to Lynchburg and met with some of the same there.  The purpose of the meeting was to talk about how the regions—in this case the New River Valley, the Roanoke Valley, and Lynchburg (in State economic terms, lovingly referred to as the Go Virginia Region 2)—might partner more often to advance regional economic activities.  As the conversation progressed and we spoke of the partnerships we have in place here in Roanoke, I realized just how special the relationship is that we have with Virginia Tech and the Virginia Tech Foundation.  This partnership, which stretches back years, has included such diverse initiatives as the redevelopment of Hotel Roanoke and joint operation of the Conference Center, a school of medicine, and a world-class research institute.  We are indeed fortunate to have this partnership and the investments the University continues to make in our community.

Many Hands

I also had a visit from an out-of-state researcher who came to find out what we are doing in the area of addressing health outcomes, information he will use to write a book on this subject.  He left, in his words, “astonished and nearly speechless, his faith in the ability of people to come together and work for a common good restored.”  While here, he was able to see the collaborations that have yielded responses to access to health care, affordable and safe housing, homelessness, access to fresh produce, early childhood reading, opioid use, and much more.  During this visit, he learned how dozens upon dozens of partners have come together and collectively worked to address these issues.  He saw the impact made by those as large as Carilion Clinic and as small as an individual volunteering their time at the Rescue Mission where, not too long ago, they themselves had resided.

Making it Happen

In each of these situations I was reminded how this community and its members, big and small, many and few, come together to seize opportunities and tackle challenges.  I was reminded how comfortable folks are here with assuming leadership roles in some instances and then a supporting role in another— not much drama, not much silo building.  I was reminded that we are not a monetarily wealthy community, which requires us to be creative in how we stretch resources and leverage efforts.  Most importantly, I was reminded that in many places this is not the norm, that communities miss opportunities and find themselves unable to address issues because they just haven’t figured out the best way to get things done. We have!  And for that I am grateful and amazed each and every day in this wonderful city.

— Bob Cowell 


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