2019 VSCPAs’ Virginia Economic Expectations survey – Southwest Virginia
John Reynolds, CPA
Senior accountant, financial performance & analysis analyst
How long have you been living in your region? What are your favorite parts about the region?
I have lived in Blacksburg since 2011. My favorite parts about living here are hiking to local sites (The Cascade Falls, McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth); going to Virginia Tech sporting events and the large number of local restaurants in the area per capita.
Working in this area is great, the commutes are reasonable with minimal traffic, and you get to interact with world-class professionals without all the stress of a big city.
What local industry do you think has potential for growth?
The local tech industry is prepared to take off. There are a number of high-growth startups in the area, which are showing true promise and drawing talent to the area. A number of companies are looking to double and triple their workforce over the next year with high-paying skill career paths. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council among other groups really has facilitated a culture of collaboration and innovation in the area.
What’s the biggest challenge to doing business in your area?
Distance and the result on our ability to aggregate skilled workforces. This part of the state has significant geographical disconnect from many of the major metro centers. This distance means you truly need to grow and retain or recruit into the area quality talent.
How is the economy faring in your part of the state?
Moderately to reasonably well considering the headwinds we have historically seen in the deeper Southwest parts of the state. The energy and textile industries were large drivers of employment and have fallen off. In my local area the health-care, technology and educational sectors are big drivers of economic stability and growth moving forward.
Photo by Don Petersen