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UVa-Wise economic development director appointed to Rural Jobs Council

Shannon Blevins
Shannon Blevins

Shannon Blevins, director of economic development at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, has been appointed to serve on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s newly created Rural Jobs Council. 

"Rural regions across the country have unique opportunities and specific challenges in job creation,” Blevins said. “I'm honored and excited to serve on the Rural Jobs Council and to represent the College and Southwest Virginia."

UVa-Wise alumni and State Senator Phillip Puckett and former state senator and former senior lecturer at UVa-Wise William Wampler were also appointed to the Council.

“We are pleased that Governor McDonnell appointed Shannon Blevins to serve on the Rural Job Council,” UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna Henry said. “UVa-Wise has been an economic development engine in the region for decades, and having Shannon represent us and our region on such an important council will benefit both Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth.”

The Council has been established to build upon the success of the Governor's Commission on Job Creation and Economic Development and to continue the Administration's focus on Virginia's rural communities. The Council consists of legislators and leaders in the business, manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare industries.  The group will make recommendations to address the challenges to economic growth in rural Virginia and develop a statewide rural infrastructure plan to include transportation, education, and community development.

The Council is responsible for identifying impediments to job creation and opportunities for job creation in rural Virginia, recommend strategies to improve K-12 education and the workforce pipeline, produce a comprehensive and meaningful Economic and Infrastructure Policy for Rural Virginia and to make recommendations to improve the tax and regulatory environment in the Commonwealth.

"I am pleased to announce that these community and industry leaders have agreed to serve Virginia on this newly created Rural Jobs Council,” the governor said. “Virginia's rural communities are the heart and soul of our Commonwealth and we must do everything we can to bring jobs and opportunity to these regions.  I am confident this group will develop thoughtful recommendations and a solid infrastructure plan for rural Virginia."

A copy of Executive Order No. 57 is available at


Members of the Governor's Rural Jobs Council


       .         Shannon Blevins, Director of Economic Development, UVA at Wise

·         David Brash, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Rural Strategy, Wellmont Health System, Lebanon


·         Delegate Kathy Byron, Lynchburg


·         Elizabeth Crowther, President, Rappahannock Community College, Saluda


·         Katie Frazier, President, Virginia Agribusiness Council, Richmond


·         Timothy Heydon, CEO, Shenandoah Growers, Harrisonburg


·         Rebecca Hough, Co-Founder and CEO, Evatran, Wytheville


·         Thomas Hudson, President, Virginia Coal Association, Richmond


·         Delegate Danny Marshall, Danville


·         Ned Massee, Chairman, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Richmond


·         Delegate Don Merricks, Martinsville


·         Martha Moore, Vice President for Government Affairs, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Richmond


·         Delegate Israel O'Quinn, Abingdon


·         Bill Parr, Parr Properties, Cape Charles


·         Senator Phil Puckett, Tazewell


·         Delegate Margaret Ransone, Kinsale


·         Nicole Riley, State Director, National Federation of Independent Business, Richmond


·         Senator Frank Ruff, Clarksville


·         Brett Vassey, President and CEO, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Richmond


·         William Wampler, Executive Director, New College Institute, Martinsville


·         Delegate Onzlee Ware, Roanoke