Regional cooperation in western Virginia has come a long way from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when Salem and Roanoke each built their own civic center, just four years and seven miles apart from one another.
A 2013 report compiled by the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission found that, despite the conventional wisdom, regional governments do work together on a regular basis. In fact the report, released biennially since 2003, cited 105 examples of governmental cooperation.
What’s that cooperation and collaboration produced? A growing network of greenways. A beefed-up tourism marketing campaign based around “Virginia’s Blue Ridge.” Economic development projects, including a near miss with Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and a win with Red Sun Farms, which will employ 200 people in a regional industrial park. More significantly, the various partnership give the region a leg up when competing in an increasingly global economy.
Despite its title, the commission’s “report card” offers no grades on efforts to cooperate. I tried to bring some of that critical perspective to my cover story on regional cooperation for the September issue of Roanoke Business. Read it here.