Earlier this year, the Office of Senior Fellow for Resource Development was asked to conduct research on the concept of regional economic development in order to become familiar with the concept and examples of its implementation in the United States. To this end, the office assembled a team of researchers led by a postdoctoral associate, Michael S. Keeney, PhD, CPAP ’12, and three SPIA graduate students, Faluke Aishanjiang, MURP student; Sarah Halvorson-Fried, MURP student; and Shahidur R. Talukdar, CPAP doctoral student.

In addition to studying the overall concept, the team identified a basic framework for how regional economic development could be implemented in the Roanoke and New River valleys and beyond. The work is based on interviews with practitioners in other regions, a community asset inventory (including analysis of industry clusters, demographics, and infrastructure), and an analysis of best practices in regional economic development.

In the report, the team concluded that collaboration and marketing across a broader region would be beneficial for regional development. This strategic action should focus on shared resources and problems including workforce needs, business needs, infrastructure investment, and quality of life on a regional scale.

This research is continuing through focus groups and interviews with business leaders across the region and Commonwealth to better understand barriers to, and resources required for, business growth and prosperity.