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Overview

A Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is a document and ongoing planning process designed to bring together the public and private sectors in the creation of a regional economic roadmap. This roadmap is designed to diversify and strengthen regional economies. This CEDS document assesses regional economies, establishes regional goals and objectives, and outlines an action plan of priority projects.

This document, the 2023 Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Annual Update, outlines annual progress made in implementing the strategy and on any revisions made to the Goals and Objectives and/or to the Prioritization Criteria along with the 2023 Project Package.

2007

On January 25, 2007, the Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) adopted the 2007 Update to its Strategic Plan, which called for the development of a regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the Roanoke Valley – Alleghany region and for the pursuit of the region’s designation as an Economic Development District by the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA). Throughout much of 2008, a committee composed of both public and private sector interests representing the member governments of the RVARC worked diligently to define the region’s goals and priorities.

2008-2010

A regular ongoing economic planning function was initiated for the Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Region in 2008. In keeping with the regular update cycle prescribed by the EDA, annual reports have been published since the 2009-10 Fiscal Year.

2017

In January 2017, the EDA designated the Roanoke Valley – Alleghany region an Economic Development District (EDD). This designation enhances our ability to obtain grants from EDA. A key function of EDDs is to develop, maintain and assist in implementing a regional CEDS and support local governments in short-term planning activities.

The EDD designation supports the RVARC work on the CEDS. This strengthens the capacity of localities, institutions of higher education, and other eligible recipients to undertake and promote economic development programs. The designation creates more opportunities to work with EDA and its Federal partners such as HUD, EPA, ARC and FHWA on initiatives that require large amounts of funding from more than one source. Project grant applications listed in the CEDS may also receive higher scores since they are listed as a priority in a regional economic development plan (for example the VDOT Smart Scale funding).

Regional Data

The Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Region is in the western portion of Virginia and consists of the Counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, and Roanoke, the Cities of Covington, Roanoke, and Salem, and the Towns of Clifton Forge and Vinton. The Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Region has a land area of approximately 1,633 square miles. It is bounded to the west by Greenbrier County, West Virginia, Monroe County, West Virginia, Giles County, Virginia and Montgomery County, Virginia, to the south by Floyd and Franklin Counties, to the east by Bedford and Rockbridge Counties, and to the north by Bath and Rockbridge Counties.

Population

Several localities within the Roanoke region experienced an increase in population since 2010. The population for the RVAR CEDS area increased 3.0% compared to a 9.5% increase in the Commonwealth over the same period.
Alleghany County*
-5.96% change

2010

78%%

2021

60%%
Botetourt County
2.05% change

2010

60%%

2021

70%%
Craig County
-5.01% change

2010

78%%

2021

60%%
Roanoke County**
5.69% change

2010

60%%

2021

50%%
City of Covington
-4.56% change

2010

78%%

2021

60%%
City of Roanoke
3.95% change

2010

50%%

2021

60%%
City of Salem
2.82% change

2010

78%%

2021

60%%
Town of Clifton Forge
-10.06% change

2010

60%%

2021

50%%
Town of Vinton
-0.43% change

2010

78%%

2021

60%%
RVAR CEDS Region
3.01% change

2010

60%%

2021

70%%
Virginia
9.45% change

2010

78%%

2021

60%%

Source: American Community Survey 2021 and US Census of Population, 2010.
* Excludes Town of Clifton Forge population.
** Excludes Town of Vinton population.

Gross Domestic Product

The Bureau of Economic Analysis produces quarterly and annual estimates of Gross Domestic Product. The gross domestic product estimates the value of the goods and services produced in a county, metropolitan area, state, or nation. It can be used to compare the size and growth of county economies across the state and nation. The growth rate of GDP is the most popular indicator of the nation’s overall economic health.

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Alleghany + Covington

Rank 61
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Botetourt County

Rank 49
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Craig County

Rank 104
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Roanoke City

Rank 15
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Roanoke County + Salem City

Rank 22
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Virginia (millions)

Rank -
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2022.

Income

Data available on income trends in the region indicate that the median income is increasing for almost all localities in the region.

It is important to note that median household income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount. It is considered by many to be a better indicator as it is not affected as much by unusually high and low-income values.

Alleghany County
10.4% change

2015

78%%

2021

60%%
Botetourt County
20.7% change

2015

60%%

2021

70%%
Craig County
36.0% change

2015

78%%

2021

60%%
Roanoke County
23.3% change

2015

60%%

2021

50%%
City of Covington
18.7% change

2015

78%%

2021

60%%
City of Roanoke
21.4% change

2015

60%%

2021

50%%
City of Salem
32.8% change

2015

78%%

2021

60%%
Town of Clifton Forge
-3.9% change

2015

60%%

2021

50%%
Town of Vinton
25.5% change

2015

78%%

2021

60%%
Virginia
24.0% change

2015

60%%

2021

70%%
United States
11.4% change

2015

78%%

2021

60%%

Source: American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates 2021.

Education

Expected growth rates for occupations vary by the education and training required. While all employment in the Roanoke Valley, VA PDC is projected to contract 0.3% over the next ten years, occupations typically requiring a postgraduate degree are expected to grow 0.2% per year, those requiring a bachelor’s degree are forecast to contract 0.1% per year, and occupations typically needing a 2-year degree or certificate are expected to contract 0.2% per year.

Employment by occupation data are estimates are as of Third Quarter 2022. Education levels of occupations are based on BLS assignments. Forecast employment growth uses national projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics adapted for regional growth patterns.

Annual Average Projected Job Growth by Training Required

0.2%

Postgraduate degree $121,100

-0.2%

Long-term OJT, no exp, no award $52,900

-0.1%

Bachelor’s degree $84,200

-0.8%

Moderate-term OJT, no exp, no award $46,500

-0.2%

2-year degree or certificate $46,800

-0.4%

Short-term OJT, no exp, no award $32,500

-0.2%

Previous work experience, no award $55,600

-0.3%

All Levels $54,000

Source: JobsEQ®, http://www.chmuraecon.com/jobseq
Copyright © 2021 Chmura Economics & Analytics, All Rights Reserved.

Workforce Development

The Western Virginia Workforce Development Board has chartered three Virginia Career Works Centers in Virginia Local Workforce Development Area III in Covington, Roanoke and Rocky Mount. Each of these Centers provides a full range of individual and business services.

In early 2019, the Board completed the review and modification of the Local Workforce Plan for the region. This process included a review of local and regional labor market information to reaffirm and/or modify the target industries and in-demand occupations in the area and a review of any pertinent changes to structure, performance, and programming of the Board. The proposed modifications were submitted to the Virginia Community College System, as the WIOA Title I Fiscal and Administrative Agent for the Commonwealth of Virginia and are expected to be approved through 2020. These modifications included the addition of the Education sector to the target industries for the region and the consolidation of Health and Life Sciences, as well as Manufacturing and Food and Beverage Manufacturing. The Local Plan modifications also included a greater alignment with the regional economic development priorities set forth by the Roanoke Regional Partnership. The below table details revised workforce demand analysis for the region.

Workforce Demand Analysis
Industry ClusterTotal Jobs (2018)Projected Jobs Change (2018-2021)Projected Job Growth (2018-2024)Location Quotient (2018)Competitive Effect (2018-2024)
Existing Target Industries
Healthcare22,2662,31910%1.33-241
Manufacturing17,5373192% 1.28 104
Construction11,790-155-1%1.10 -999
Transportation & Warehousing8,8213234% 1.11-752
Financial Services2,4231848%0.65 -57
Emerging Target Industries
Food and Beverage Manufacturing1,122164 15%1.79 130
Life Sciences2,929953%1.26-148
Information Technology4,640155 3%1.28 -265

Source: Virginia Career Works, Blue Ridge Region, 2019.

Labor Force

Human capital is one of the single most important assets a community can offer prospective businesses. The lack of human capital is also one of the hardest economic development deficiencies a community could ever seek to overcome. Data have already been presented suggesting that key working age cohorts are decreasing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data provided in Table 14, all localities except the cities of Covington and Roanoke have experienced a decline in the size of their respective labor forces over the past 5 years. It should be noted that the 2021 participation rates were severely impacted by the COVID pandemic and resulting restrictions on business operations and had not fully recovered in 2022.

Alleghany County
-2.7% change

2018

78%%

2022

60%%
Botetourt County
-2.1% change

2018

60%%

2022

70%%
Craig County
-3.5% change

2018

78%%

2022

60%%
Roanoke County
-2.6% change

2018

60%%

2022

50%%
City of Covington
-1.3% change

2018

78%%

2022

60%%
City of Roanoke
-3.6% change

2018

60%%

2022

50%%
City of Salem
-4.2% change

2018

78%%

2022

60%%
Virginia
-0.9% change

2018

60%%

2022

50%%

Source: Local Area Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023. *Average calculated based on monthly data.

Unemployment

All localities within the RVAR CEDS region saw their average annual unemployment rates decrease from 2018 to 2022. The annual unemployment rate decreased in all of the localities from 2018 to 2021 except the City of Roanoke. Table 15 provides historical annual unemployment rates from 2017 to 2021.

Alleghany County

2018

50%%

2019

45%%

2020

60%%

2021

55%%

2022

40%%
Botetourt County

2018

50%%

2019

60%%

2020

60%%

2021

60%%

2022

60%%
Craig County

2018

78%%

2019

60%%

2020

60%%

2021

60%%

2022

60%%
Roanoke County

2018

65%%

2019

60%%

2020

60%%

2021

60%%

2022

60%%
City of Covington

2018

78%%

2019

60%%

2020

60%%

2021

60%%

2022

60%%
City of Roanoke

2018

50%%

2019

60%%

2020

60%%

2021

60%%

2022

60%%
City of Salem

2018

78%%

2019

60%%

2020

60%%

2021

60%%

2022

60%%
Virginia

2018

50%%

2019

60%%

2020

60%%

2021

60%%

2022

60%%

Source: Local Area Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021.

Economic Structure

It is necessary to understand the nature, structure, and trends of the region’s economy to determine its strengths and weaknesses. There are several data sources that are used in analyzing the local economic structure of the region. The following section will seek to describe regional trends in the industry clusters for the entire RVAR CEDS region. An outline of the region’s largest 25 employers is provided below. It will assist with understanding the local economy and demonstrates that most of the region’s largest employers are in the industries of government, healthcare, education, banking and insurance, and retail.

  1. Roanoke Memorial Community Hospital
  2. HCA Virginia Health System
  3. Roanoke County School Board
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  5. Wells Fargo Bank
  6. Wal Mart
  7. Carilion Services
  8. Roanoke City School Board
  9. Kroger
  10. City of Roanoke
  11. M.W. Manufacturers
  12. U.P.S.
  13. County of Roanoke
  14. Franklin County School Board
  15. Alliance Group Rock Tenn
  16. Altec Industries Inc
  17. Advance Auto Parts
  18. Postal Service
  19. Botetourt County School Board
  20. Lowes’ Home Centers
  21. Food Lion
  22. City of Salem
  23. City of Salem School Board
  24. Yokohama Tire Corp.
  25. Integrity Windows Inc.

Data includes all localities within Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission region. Source: Virginia Employment Commission, Economic Information & Analytics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), 3rd Quarter (July, August, September) 2022.

Industry Clusters and Snap Shot

It is necessary to understand the nature, structure, and trends of the region’s economy to determine its strengths and weaknesses. There are several data sources that are used in analyzing the local economic structure of the region.

The following section will seek to describe regional trends in the industry clusters for the entire RVAR CEDS region. An outline of the region’s largest employers is provided below. It will assist with understanding the local economy and demonstrates that most of the region’s largest employers are in the industries of government, healthcare, education, banking and insurance, and retail

Largest Employment Sector — Health Care and Social Assistance with 28,636 workers.

Second Largest Sector — Retail Trade with 17,445 workers.

Third Largest Sector — Manufacturing with 17,391 workers.

Highest Location Quotient Sectors

Management of Companies and Enterprises — (LQ = 1.74)

Manufacturing — (LQ = 1.30)

Health Care and Social Assistance — (LQ = 1.21)

Health Care and Social Assistance —(LQ = 1.21)

Sectors with Highest Average Wages

Finance and Insurance —$88,527 average wage per worker.

Management of Companies and Enterprise — $85,911 average wage per worker.

Wholesale Trade — $80,258 average wage per worker.

Sectors with Best Job Growth (last 5 years)

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation — +669 jobs

Health Care and Social Assistance — +492 jobs

Manufacturing — +287 jobs

Projected Employment Change (next 1 year) —Decrease by 515 jobs

Fastest Growing Sector (projected next 1 year) — Accommodation and Food Services with a +0.7% growth rate

Strongest Job Growth Forecast (next 1 year)

Accommodation and Food Services — +87 jobs

Health Care and Social Assistance — +27 jobs

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services — +26 jobs

Occupation Snapshot

Largest Major Occupation Group
Next-Largest Occupation Groups
Highest Location Quotients (LQs)

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations — LQ = 1.33

Production Occupations —LQ = 1.24

Community and Social Service Occupations — LQ = 1.18

Occupations with the Highest Average Wages
Management Occupations
$111,400

Title

80%%
Legal Occupations
$104,900

Legal Occupations

65%%
Computer and Mathematical Occupations
$88,500

Computer and Mathematical Occupations

50%%

Source of Occupation Employment Data:

  • Estimated via industry employment data and industry/occupation mix by JobsEQ.
  • Industry employment data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, updated through 2022Q2, with preliminary estimates to 2022Q3.

Enplanements

Enplanements are the number of passengers boarding commercial air carriers. The data provides insight into short run changes in economic activity. However, such data should be used with caution since airline scheduling and ticket prices obviously affect air travel. Air travel is highly elastic, meaning slight changes in price lead to sharp changes in demand. Table 20 shows annual enplanements at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport increased by 67.39 percent from 2020 to 2021 reflecting the dramatic decline and subsequent rebound in passenger traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

YearEnplanementsPercent Change
2010316,4786.35
2011320,9611.42
2012315,877-1.58
2013310,295-1.76
2014305,496-1.55
2015300,181-1.74
2016305,2121.68
2017309,3411.35
2018330,0636.70
2019361,1319.41
2020145,061-59.8
2021242,81467.39

Source: Federal Aviation Administration, CY 2021 Commercial Service Enplanements Data

Regional Housing Supply and Demand

Housing is a fundamental need for residents and the economic development community has a role to play in creating and maintaining a housing market that meets the needs of the region’s population.

Housing affordability and availability also impacts the ability of businesses to attract and retain employees. The localities in the region need affordable, quality housing to attract and retain employees and maintain quality of life for all residents. Three major housing studies are summarized below. These studies identify key data and issues along with recommendations that can help guide local policymakers in addressing housing supply and demand in the region.

Alleghany Highlands Region (2019 Study)

Issue — Lack of new housing development is due to supply constraints, not demand.

Findings — Viable sites for single-family and multifamily housing exist; local officials support new development; employer involvement is crucial in housing strategy.

Recommendations — Focus on a few sites for immediate development; identify alternative uses for less adaptable buildings; promote sites to potential investors

Botetourt County (2016 Study)

Issue — Limited readily available sites for new housing development.

Findings — Demand for new housing likely exceeds supply; rental housing market is stronger; lack of affordable housing.

Recommendations — Rezone certain properties for development; increase townhome zoning for affordability; explore adaptive reuse of historic buildings.

Regional Housing Market Analysis (2020 Study)

Issue — Slow population growth, aging housing stock, affordability challenges, and insufficient housing options.

Findings — Mismatches in housing prices and income levels; regulatory and financing barriers.

Recommendations — Use zoning to encourage housing diversity; create affordable housing trust funds; prioritize development of publicly owned sites; coordinate regional investment in infrastructure.

Annual Home Sales

Observations — Incomplete data on home sales in some areas; however, average home prices have risen, and sales have increased despite the COVID pandemic.

SWOT Analysis Overview

The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis is a strategic planning tool used by organizations to ensure that there is a clear objective informed by a comprehensive understanding of the region’s capabilities and capacity. The analysis identifies the region’s competitive advantages – those assets that make the region special or competitive in the national and global economies – and contrasts them against internal or external factors that impact the regional economy. Analyzing what the region already possesses that could be leveraged better to build the capacity for growth, including competitive cultural, economic, technological, intellectual, and physical assets, is critical to developing the regional economy.

The CEDS Strategy Committee participated in a SWOT analysis during its April 1, 2020, meeting. Committee members were asked to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for the region.

Strength

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

Accomplishments

The localities represented in the CEDS process remain committed to the process and to making smart investments that will stimulate economic growth throughout the region. The committee, local governments, and local partners have been successfully implementing projects from the previous CEDS project listings.

  • • Alleghany County -Jackson River Trail Phase I – V
  • • Alleghany County – Alleghany Outdoors opened
  • • Alleghany Highlands Chamber – Alleghany Highlands Visitor Center
  • • Botetourt County – Upper James River Water Trail – Phase I & II
  • • Botetourt County – Gateway Center/Exit 150 Market Feasibility Study
    and Redesign
  • • Botetourt County -Shell Building in Botetourt Center at Greenfield
  • • Botetourt County – Glen Wilton Public River Access
  • •Botetourt Greenfield -Vista Park Water Systems and Tinker Creek Interceptor
  • • Clifton Forge -Masonic Theater Renovations
  • • Clifton Forge -Business Incubator
  • • Clifton Forge -Business Park access road
  • • Clifton Forge -School of the Arts
  • • Covington and Clifton Forge -Downtown Revitalization Strategy
  • • City of Roanoke – Amtrak passenger rail platform
  • • City of Roanoke – Roanoke Acceleration Center
  • • Roanoke County – Explore Park infrastructure and camping facilities
  • • Roanoke County – Gateway Center/Exit 150 Market 419 Town Center Plan
  • • Roanoke Valley Broadband -Authority established; Phase 1 complete
  • • Roanoke Valley Greenway Plan
  • •Salem -Apperson Drive Stormwater Improvements
  • • Vinton -Roland E. Cook & William Byrd School Redevelopment
  • • Vinton -Vinton Motors, Gish Mill & Former Vinton Branch Library Redevelopment
  • • Vinton -Reopening of Rosie’s Gaming Emporium
  • •Vinton -Ice-rink re-installation at Lancelot Sports Complex
  • •Western VA Regional Industrial Facility Authority -Wood Haven Technology Park

Metrics and Performance Measures

The Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is a dynamic document overseen by the RVAR CEDS Strategy Committee, which is responsible for its ongoing update and monitoring. This committee produces an annual report for the US Economic Development Administration, detailing the region’s progress and updating the list of priority projects. To evaluate the effectiveness of the CEDS process, several metrics are used:

Committee Composition and Compliance

The RVAR CEDS Committee adheres to relevant EDA regulations regarding its composition, including diverse representation from the private sector, elected bodies, and various organizations. Public participation is encouraged, with meeting details published online.

Organizational Representation on the Committee

Currently, 17 different localities and organizations, not counting individual private sector businesses, are represented on the CEDS Committee.

Community Organization Inclusion

Projects in the CEDS process originate from a wide range of sources. Presently, there are projects from 19 different localities and organizations.

Collaboration in Project Development

The CEDS emphasizes projects that are collaborative and involve multiple partners for implementation.

Impact on Employment

The projects recommended in the CEDS are expected to create jobs, but more work is needed to forecast employment increases accurately.

Private Sector Investment

Tracking private sector investment is challenging, with most projects still in development and lacking committed private funds.

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