It was a pleasure to moderate a really interesting Virtual Community Conversation on Economic Resilience and Responses to COVID-19 on Wednesday, June 23, 2020. Our guests included both economic development practitioners from across Virginia as well as Virginia Tech experts on various dimensions of resilience. Our panelists included:
- Beth Doughty, Executive Director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership
- Stephanie Landrum, CEO of Alexandria Economic Development
- Buddy Rizer, Executive Director of the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development
- Charlotte Baker, Assistant Professor, Population Health Science, Virginia Tech
- Chris Zobel, Professor, Business Information Technology, Virginia Tech
We had a lively, hour-long conversation full of local insights, emerging research ideas, and difficult questions. What emerged to me as key themes were the near-term importance of shifting the focus of economic development from expansion/growth into more of a triage and retention mode. What I also heard, which is unsurprising, is that the Washington DC metro will likely be buffered, at least a bit, from the real depths of the economic fallout because its professional services base and close relationship with the Federal government remain comparatively strong. While many of those workers have remained gainfully employed throughout quarantine, most have largely stayed home (which is a good thing!) and have not frequented Main Street businesses in the same ways they had previously. So, what continues to be a great challenge is coming up with ways to keep those Main Street businesses alive while workers continue to work from home.
By the way, a colleague found this immensely rich resource recently. It’s a one-stop shop for all things ED and COVID. There are some great overviews of Federal, State, and local policies, as well as some creative ideas about how localities are responding to these challenging times.
This panel was part of the Vibrant Virginia initiative here at Virginia Tech. For more on Vibrant Virginia and upcoming projects, please visit us here.
Yesterday was a first for me. We held a virtual happy hour to say farewell to two colleagues, Thomas Skuzinski and Wenwen Zhang. I wish them both well with their moves northward.
I need some lessons on where to look at the camera, but this was a fun change of scenery and a great opportunity to talk about the Vibrant Virginia book project (click on pic to link to video). Thanks, WFXR Roanoke!
I hope you will consider submitting a proposal to my upcoming edited book (with Dr. Sarah Lyon-Hill) on the urban-rural continuum in Virginia. Practitioners and academics are asked to consider this call for chapters: “Vibrant Virginia: Engaging the Commonwealth to Expand Economic Vitality” Proposal deadline 2-15. https://lnkd.in/eKrMSXA
It’s always fun to celebrate the accomplishments of colleagues and today was no different. Dr. Shalini Misra was promoted to Associate Professor this spring. Fellow colleagues from the School of Public and International Affairs here at VT helped to mark this important milestone with a celebratory lunch.
I was recently awarded funding to support my work with the amazing folks at Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development in our collective efforts on Vibrant Virginia, which engages and supports university faculty in exploring community and economic development in urban and rural Virginia. Vibrant Virginia examines the nexus within and among the regions of the Commonwealth with an eye towards highlighting opportunities for community stakeholders from all sectors (government, education, industry, and non-profit) to address the challenges that they face.
The +Policy Fellowship is an awesome opportunity to leverage the Vibrant Virginia work by helping us to place policy considerations front and center in our interdisciplinary project. I am thankful to be one of three people who were awarded funding for the +Policy Fellowship to embed me in the Vibrant Virginia project and use my policy expertise to increase the visibility and importance of this type of policy research at the university. More here.
In a new article with colleagues from Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development, we explore why many Small and Medium Manufacturers in one rural region of Virginia are not taking advantage of the many workforce development and technical assistance resources available to them. Using a survey and interviews, we find that constant and consistent outreach to SMMs, regular engagement in social and economic networks, and a diverse array of services tailored to rural SMMs’ needs will play key roles in developing productive partnerships between SMMs and resource providers. More here.
I’m really looking forward to participating in this workshop next week (9/24/18-9/26/18) in Leipzig, Germany at the Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde. Along with my colleague, Dr. Thomas Skuzinski, I will be talking about ways we might help frame an international comparison of cities after decline. More to follow!
I’d always thought that the hooding ceremony for a PhD advisee would be a professional highlight and on Sunday, May 13, 2018 I found that to be 100% true. I was honored to hood my first student, Dr. Andrea Hamre. Though I was not technically Dr. Hamre’s chair — I was merely a stand-in for her actual chair, Dr. Kris Wernstedt, who is presently in Tanzania on a Fulbright — the feeling was still enormously rewarding. What a fun way to metaphorically pass the torch on to the next wave of scholars! A heartfelt congratulations to my own advisee, Dr. Caitlin Walter, who also graduated (though she did not walk, and hence no picture) on Sunday.
I’ve been witness to two successful capstone defenses here in Alexandria this past week. The first, by James Garman (not pictured, sorry!), explored cost externalities associated with pervious pavement. The second, by Bryan Steckler (picture below), examined the West Philadelphia Scattered Site Model, which has been used to redevelop vacant properties in residential neighborhoods. Congratulations to both James and Bryan!