2018 VSCPA Survey: Southwest Virginia
Tamara R. Greear
Thrower, Blanton & Associates PC
How would you describe the economic climate in your part of the state?
The current economic climate in Southwest Virginia is somewhat pessimistic. While there has been a marginal improvement in the region with some of the deregulations on the coal industry since the beginning of 2017, there is still very little progress towards a steady or growing economy.
What is your region doing well to retain/attract businesses?
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, along with the workforce development programs of the various community colleges in the region, are working diligently to provide education and training that will develop a workforce that can adapt to a changing economic environment. The biggest challenge is knowing what the appropriate skills will be in an area that must generate new forms of business and industry, but has yet to establish what businesses can be best developed for sustainable growth in the region.
What’s the biggest impediment to doing business in the area?
There is not just one big impediment, but a combination of contributors. The natural terrain of the area provides challenges to affordable and efficient transportation/transit of goods and services and basic communication through a lack of high-speed Internet and cellular service. Such challenges make attracting and retaining new businesses difficult at best, and impossible to an extent. The other significant impediment is a lack of a diverse skilled labor force ready to meet the challenges of any business.
What major economic development project in your region are you most excited about?
There is not a specific economic development project in the region that excites me as our region is struggling to develop new opportunities in an extremely distressed economy that has for too long been dependent on one primary industry/product for survival without a forward-thinking vision that would sustain our region in times of downturn or distress.
I am, however, optimistic about the regional efforts that are emerging, such as groups like GO Virginia [an economic development initiative], just to mention one … This is a positive move outside of what tends to be a “town by
town” attitude to the realization that we are one community in this together.
What is the No. 1 item on your tax reform wish list?
I’d say start with reducing the tax brackets for individuals to no more than perhaps 4 brackets not exceeding 35 percent, and also reducing the corporate tax bracket to somewhere around 15-20 percent.
Photo courtesy Thrower, Blanton & Associates PC
Overview story summarizing VSCPA survey:
VSCPA MEMBERS WEIGH IN ON THE STATE OF THEIR REGION …