Emory & Henry College, Longwood University, the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development, and Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Community Viability program are hosting two economic forums that will link rural communities to Virginia’s economic resources.

The 2011 Economic Resources for Rural Virginia forums will be held on Thursday, May 19, at Emory & Henry College and on Tuesday, June 7, at Longwood University. Both sessions will begin at 8:45 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m.

Elected officials, economic developers, local government employees, business leaders, and members of the community are encouraged to attend one of the sessions. Participants will gather information on Virginia’s incentives and resources for rural economies, discuss opportunities available for expanding a community’s broadband infrastructure, explore links to support and expand a region’s manufacturing sector, learn the process of building a creative economy, and network with higher education institutions that offer training and intellectual resources to local leadership.

“Emory & Henry College is eager to be involved in this partnership-building forum” said Tal Stanley, director of the Appalachian Center for Community Service at Emory & Henry College. “These workshops build on the college’s historical mission and ongoing efforts with and for the people and places of Southwest Virginia. The economic forum promises the opportunity to focus on more effective strategies for sustainable economic development for our region, at the same time as looking to the people of our region to be the leaders and visionaries in that effort.”

Local officials are already searching for resources to support economic development initiatives within Virginia counties and cities.

“Emphasis must be placed on the need for each community to fully assess its strengths and weaknesses and then develop a proactive plan to build its economic power base,” said Otis Brown, vice rector of Longwood University. “Business as usual is a thing of the past.”

Attendees will hear speakers representing the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Carroll and Smyth counties, Prince Edward/Farmville Electronic Community, Virginia Tech eCorridors Program, Virginia Manufacturers Association, GENEDGE Alliance, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Fort Lee and the Virginia Logistics Research Center, and the Virginia Community College System. 

Jesse White and Josh Levy, both of the University of North Carolina Office of Economic and Business Development, will use the 2010 report, The Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership, to explore Virginia’s opportunity to link to its colleges and universities.

At the Emory & Henry College session, representatives from the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission, Virginia Tourism Corporation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development will share insight into resources for a creative economy. 

The forum is free, but registration is required and must be completed by Friday, May 13, for the Emory & Henry College session and by Wednesday, June 1, for the session at Longwood University. For more information or to register, contact Martha Walker at (434) 766-6761.



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