The Virginia Tech Roanoke Center and the city of Roanoke will host a joint conference titled Implementing Lean: Operational Excellence for Local Government March 3 and 4 at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.

The two-day conference, open to any organization seeking to improve services to its customers and facing budget challenges, is designed to provide management and leadership tools to local government, corporate, and nonprofit organizations.

Over the past three years, more than 200 Roanoke city employees have completed process-improvement and "lean" training at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center.

"We've implemented lean in our own organization, both operationally and as part of a culture change," says Chris Morrill, city manager. "We're so pleased to partner with Virginia Tech, which has brought the academic and leadership expertise, to bring in experts from around the country to talk about the importance of creating a culture of continuous process improvement."

City employees who have completed training have begun implementing process-improvement strategies throughout city government, Morrill says. Results of the city's projects will be shared at the conference. These include a reduction in paper forms – from 13 to five in animal control – as well as a significant drop in the time needed for new employees to gain access to city computer systems – from an average of six days to zero.

"This unique partnership between a senior land grant institution and a local government entity has produced positive results in eliminating waste, streamlining processes, and empowering employees," says Kay Dunkley, director of the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center.

The event brings together speakers representing government, health care, manufacturing, academic institutions, and small business. Presenters include Teresa Hay McMahon, executive director of the Iowa Lean Consortium; Jim Chrisinger, continuous improvement director for King County, Washington; Andrew Kleine, budget director for the City of Baltimore; and Jeff Fuchs, executive director of the Maryland World Class Consortia. Local presenters include Chris Perkins, Roanoke’s police chief, Mike Parish, vice president for quality and patient safety at Carilion Clinic, and Eileen Van Aken, management systems engineering professor and associate department head in the College of Engineering.

As a six-time All-America City, Roanoke is a vital hub for education, industry, and transportation in southwest Virginia. With a population nearing 100,000, its diversity is reflected in more than 100 different cultures making up its population. Once known primarily as a "railroad town" by local historians, the city’s business community and government is streamlining operations in terms of staffing and work practices to adapt to a changing economic landscape. The city turned to the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center for initial training and, given its success, relies on Virginia Tech to identify new areas needing improvement and opportunities for training, Dunkley says.

Last-minute registration is still open. To learn more email Erin Burcham  or call 540-767-6145.

Dana Cruikshank contributed to this report

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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