The Art of Regional Economic Development

From Diane S. Akers, President, The Blacksburg Partnership, for the Building a Region series on Handshake 2.0:

Blacksburg, Virginia at night To your question, "To foster its regional economic development, what are the three most important traits a rural region needs to develop in order to have a chance at attracting a high-tech Global 1000 company – or two or three – to establish headquarters, a division, a product development laboratory, or a research facility in its locale?", here’s my response:
Today, economic development is more than attracting industries or luring retailers. Economic development includes leveraging our natural resources, sports and even the arts to benefit our community.
At The Blacksburg Partnership, a non-profit, independent economic development organization formed by the Town, business and university communities to enhance the long-term vitality of Blacksburg, Virginia, we’re looking at new ways to generate economic activity in the Town. And that includes the arts.

The Blacksburg Partnership has created the Blacksburg Partnership Collaborative for the Arts. We envision Blacksburg as a year-round arts and cultural destination, implementing a strategy that uses the Virginia Tech Center for the Arts and regional arts projects as catalysts for economic and community development. This includes:

  • Development of local arts-related retail space, including an artist’s market with studio and sales space.
  • Creation of an arts destination – to have our region, with Blacksburg as the hub, be recognized as a top arts destination.
  • Creation of a downtown square to generate an opportunity for the display, sales and performance of all the different genres of arts. This space can be a place of public gathering and an economic generator for downtown businesses.
  • Facilitating access to high-speed Internet, particularly targeting the area defined as the Blacksburg Arts District to increase the attractiveness of downtown locations for technology-based companies.

We all know the arts can enhance quality of life. We're thinking about what the arts can do to spur economic development.


Related Handshake 2.0 posts that may be of interest:

Blacksburg Makes the List – Lots of Them by Z. Kelly Queijo

Gotta Have It – Brand New Map of the New River Valley of Virginia from the NRVEDA

Presenting the NRV Hub
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