Office of Economic Development & Engagement

“Being the only four year public school located in Southwest Virginia, we have a unique opportunity to leverage the strengths of the College to impact our region.”

Chancellor Donna P. Henry

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise will serve as the support organization for the Region One Council of GO Virginia

GO Virginia, a business-led initiative to create higher-paying jobs in Virginia, has named the members of its Region One Council, which serves 13 counties in Southwest Virginia.

Also called the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in Each Region, GO Virginia was created to foster private-sector growth, job creation and career readiness through state incentives for regional collaboration by businesses, education and government, according to a news release from the group.

Learn more about GO Virginia.

A Regional Approach to Support Linking Strengths and Resources for Innovation and Growth

We serve as the gateway to the assets and resources of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise. As the only four-year public institution of higher education in Virginia’s coalfield region, we exist not only to support employers throughout the area but our economic development professionals as well. We do this the following ways:

  • Linking our community to the faculty, staff and students of UVa-Wise through strategic partnerships
  • Linking the wealth of resources available at the University of Virginia to opportunities in Southwest Virginia
  • Serving as a resource to the economic development community
  • Serving as a source of professional and leadership development

UVa-Wise is committed to two things….student success and serving our community.

Over its 60-year history, UVa-Wise has become nationally-accredited and nationally-ranked among top public liberal arts colleges in the U.S.  Since its founding in 1954, the College has been committed to improving the quality of life and economic vitality of Southwest Virginia, and it serves as a major economic engine to the region and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In 2016, an independent research firm, Trip Umbalch, conducted a study of the economic impact of the University of Virginia on Virginia’s economy.  As the only off-grounds division of UVA, UVa-Wise was included in the study.  The impressive findings are highlighted in the document.  View the full study.

Rural Tech in the U.S: South Central Appalachia TechHire

On June 27, 2016 the Administration also launched South Central Appalachia TechHire, a joint effort by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and private sector employers to develop a world-class ecosystem of tech talent in the heart of Appalachia. Together, South Central Appalachia TechHire will prepare and place over 50 individuals into tech jobs over the next year, and 400 by 2020.

Virginia Economic Developers Honor Virginia Communities

Charlottesville The Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) announced the selection of Alleghany County/City of Covington/Town of Clifton Forge; City of Lynchburg; and Arlington County as winners in three different population categories of the 2017 Community Economic Development Awards (CEDA). The awards were presented last week at the association’s Spring Conference in Charlottesville.

The communities of Alleghany County, the City of Covington, and the Town of Clifton Forge were nominated and selected in Category Three (population of 15,001 to 40,000) for their cooperation in revisiting the fundamentals of Business Retention and Expansion Activities. The new combined BRE program makes use of aggressive outreach, volunteers, and other tools to reach existing business and to remove any barriers to their continued success and growth, whether the challenges are related to finance, logistics, real estate, workforce, or access to markets. These activities are all plugged into a system of comprehensive quantification that allows for tracking advancements. The CEDA Committee applauded the communities for first, working across jurisdictional boundaries to bring this inventive program to life and secondly, for embracing a fundamental tenet of economic development and rebuilding those efforts from the ground up.

The City of Lynchburg’s Lynchburg Innovation Week was the recipient of the award in population Category Four (40,001-100,000). Over three days during June 2016, a variety of interested parties gathered into the Riverviews Artspace to engage the public with interactive content and to have meaningful conversations about Lynchburg’s economic development future. Additionally, a nine-week entrepreneurial training program culminated in a pitch night at which $40,000 was given to five different businesses, all of which now have open storefronts. Lynchburg Innovation Week represents the confluence of innovation and homegrown business assistance and for that reason was chosen by the CEDA Committee.

The CEDA award in Population Category Five (>100,000) was presented to Arlington’s Startup Arlington program. As one of the Country’s major technology hubs, Arlington has made significant efforts to go beyond its reputation as a “government town” to compete with such recognizable, branded places as the Silicon Valley and Austin Texas. To foster this effort, Startup Arlington was envisioned as a nationwide competition for emerging or growing companies in the technology sector to compete for the ability to live and work in Arlington for three months at no cost. Startup Arlington is a collaborative effort among public and private partners and the end results include tech sector growth, excitement among the entrepreneurial community, and overall great PR and buzz. Startup Arlington was chosen by the CEDA committee for its collaborative spirit and its creative holistic prize package.


The 2017 CEDA entrants represented all geographic regions of the Commonwealth, and the ten applicant communities ranged from large in population, urban areas to large-in-area, rural regions. “The field of entrants was very competitive this year,” said CEDA Chair David Manley (Joint IDA of Wythe County). “Because there were some exceptional projects that deserve to be recognized, the CEDA Committee decided to present two honorable mention awards.” Submitting in Population Category Four, Roanoke County received an honorable mention for its Site Selector website. The County’s Department of Economic Development launched the website to serve as a one-stop for businesses in the area, site selection consultants, real estate professionals, and other interested parties. The second honorable mention award went to Opportunity Southwest Virginia for its placemaking initiative called Rally Southwest Virginia in Virginia’s coalfield region that has now expanded across 19 counties and three cities-stretching from Lee to Montgomery Counties, catalyzing sustainable growth in the participating communities.

The CEDA awards are designed to recognize outstanding communities in the Commonwealth for their efforts in advancing the economic viability of their community through economic and community development programs. VEDA is following the format developed by the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) and will submit its eligible winners to SEDC to be considered by that organization for a southern states regional award. This is the eleventh year for VEDA’s Community Economic Development Awards.

“The work of the committee is admittedly difficult each year because of the high caliber of the entries and this year was no exception, having received 13 quality nominations. Two of Virginia’s four winners last year went on to win at the SEDC level – truly a testament to the high performance economic development efforts going on across our state,” said Manley. Entries are judged on factors including innovativeness, transferability, community commitment, and the benefits derived from the initiative. To see copies of each of the selected Community Economic Development Awards submissions link to

VEDA is a member-based professional association committed to providing training and development; networking opportunities; and serving as the voice of the economic development community, creating economic opportunity and prosperity for the Commonwealth of Virginia. VEDA’s membership is comprised of more than 550 economic development professionals and related industry professionals from across the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information about VEDA visit the website at

If you are interested in learning more about how we can support you and your organization, please reach out to us.  We are eager to find ways to encourage economic development in Southwest Virginia!