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Hollins, Roanoke Named Princeton Review Green Colleges

Hollins Named Green UniversityThe Roanoke Region's Hollins University was recently recognized as one of the country's leading institutions of higher learning in terms of environmental responsibility. The Princeton Review, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council's Center for Green Schools, named Hollins to their annual Guide to 332 Green Colleges: 2014 Edition listing. 

This in not the first time Hollins has been recognized for their commitment to sustainability; they also made the Princeton Review's list in 2011 and 2012. 

The guide cited the school's geothermal well field and its student-designed, 2.6-kilowatt solar facility as reasons for including Hollins. The guide also praised student organizations and events like Students for Environmental Action and Campus Sustainability Day. 

Hollins also has the ambitious, long-term goal of having a completely carbon-neutral campus by 2040.

Find out more about the guide and Hollins' commitment to sustainability >>>

Also on this year's list was Roanoke College in Salem. The guide touted Roanoke's bike sharing and recycling programs, as well as its LEED Certified Lucas Hall. Students are also offered an environmental studies degree.

Find out more about Roanoke College's green programs >>>

The Princeton Review selected schools based on a survey of administrators at hundreds of four-year colleges conducted last year to measure their commitment to the environment and sustainability. The survey included questions on course offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation. 

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Roanoke Region Innovation Study Results

Gauging the Region's Innovation IndexThe Roanoke Regional Partnership gave its final presentation in the four-part Gauging the Region's Economic Success series on April 16th. The presentation covered the results of the Partnership's study on the region's Innovation Activity Index, capping the series that previously discussed Human Capital, Entrepreneurial, and Quality of Life indexes. Many Partnership investors, along with representatives from local governments, were in attendance to learn about and converse on the current state of innovation in the Roanoke Region. 

The Roanoke Regional Partnership regularly reports metrics that evaluate economic progress and prosperity. Annual data products include an economic indicator series, economic impact of the Blue Ridge Marathon, and annual report of Partnership accomplishments. The Partnership also regularly conducts research on economic development issues such as workforce, real estate, and best practices. Gauging the Region’s Economic Success is the latest offering and measures the region’s performance in four core areas that affect prosperity. The report measures against nationwide benchmarks and includes comparative analyses with peer regions selected for their similarity to the Roanoke region in size and/or character. 

The aim of the presentation is to identify where the Roanoke Region stands compared to similar localities and the nation, and to identify the steps the region needs to take to become more competitive. While Roanoke faired well against its peers, it fell behind the national average in key indicators. 

As the Roanoke Region continues to grow economically, it is important to leverage existing infrastructure, research, and talent to develop an innovation culture/economy and to attract and retain highly educated individuals.

Read all the reports from the 4-part Gauging the Region's Economic Success presentation series >>>

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Roanoke Top Ten Best Work Environment in U.S.

Workers are Happy in RoanokeSpending 40 hours a week - or more - at your job can take a toll, both mentally and physically. In fact, less than half of workers in the U.S. gave their workplace a positive overall review last year. Fortunately, you may be able to avoid the worker bee syndrome in the Roanoke Region.

According to a recent Gallup survey, the Roanoke metro area has one of the best work environments in the U.S., ranking No. 7. Gallup surveyed hundreds of thousands of Americans in nearly 200 metro areas over the past two years to create the Work Environment Index. The index is based on four factors: "Job satisfaction; whether employees felt they used their strengths at work; how employees were treated by their supervisors; and whether supervisors created an open and trusting work environment."

The Roanoke metro area came in with a work environment index score of 55.1, falling ahead of Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash. (55.0) and just behind Visalia-Porterville, Calif. (55.3). San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif. ranked first with a score of 59.1. 

Here is what the finance blog 24/7 Wall St. had to say about Roanoke:

"Unlike other metro areas with highly rated workplaces, supervisors in Roanoke were not as likely to create a trusting work environment. Less than 80% of respondents thought their supervisor did so in 2013, in-line with the average across all metro areas. However, this did not prevent residents from liking their jobs, with 90.5% of survey respondents reporting job satisfaction, among the best job evaluations among all metro areas surveyed. The job climate in Roanoke is also relatively good, with just a 5.4% unemployment rate in December last year, below the national rate of 6.7% that month."

Check out the full post - with great data analysis - on >>>

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American Airlines Service Back at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport

ROA adds flight to LGAThe first flight may have taken place on April Fool's Day, but the new American Airlines service out of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) is no joke for the Roanoke Region.

The world's largest airline resumed service at ROA with a daily non-stop flight to New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA), linking flights from Roanoke to nearly 500 domestic and international destinations. The Roanoke Region is now connected directly to the Big Apple, allowing frequent flyers to take off at 6:30 p.m. and arrive in New York at 8:05 p.m. The regional jet flying the route has 44 passenger seats available. 

“American Airlines last operated in Roanoke in the mid‐1990s when it offered service to and from Raleigh‐Durham," said Airport Commission Executive Director Jacqueline Shuck in a press release. "We’re delighted to have American back at the Airport and particularly pleased to add this flight to our destination map—it offers travelers from Roanoke direct, efficient access to the business center of the world. You can reach New York City easily and make the most of your time when taking this flight. “The new service is a positive sign that airlines have confidence in the strength of the Roanoke‐Blacksburg market.”

Check out a video from the first flight below: 

See the full press release >>>

ROA offers more than 50 scheduled flights daily, providing nonstop service from Roanoke, Va. to nine major cities. All major U.S. airlines fly out of Roanoke‐Blacksburg Regional Airport daily including American Airlines/US Airways, United Airlines and Delta. Allegiant Air also provides service on full‐sized jets with frequent flights to Florida.

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New Study Shows Roanokers Rank High in Health and Wellness

Gallup Well-Being Index

New study confirms Roanoke continues to be healthier than many of its competitors and is succeeding in its quest for better health. 

Roanoke is ranked in the top 25 percent of metros nationally for having a low percentage of residents who are medically obese and in the top 35 percent of metros for having residents who regularly eat fresh fruits and vegetables, according to new figures from the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index. The study ranks metropolitan areas on the prevalence of obesity, frequency of exercise and eating fresh, whole foods, the rate of health insurance coverage, and on feelings of well-being. 

Roanoke’s overall score puts it in the top third of metros nationally for health and wellness overall.

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Roanoke Valley Governor's School Math Madness Gets National Attention

Your shot at Warren Buffet's billion dollars may be over, but one quest for the perfect, or at least better, bracket is putting the national spotlight on one Roanoke Region school. CBS News featured a math program at the Roanoke Valley Govenor's School focused on the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. 

Picking up on a story by local affiliate WDBJ-TV, CBS News ran the story on the homepage of their website. The piece features the unique way the Governor's School implements the real-world applications of linear algebra using the NCAA tournament as a bracket as a learning tool. 

"I'm not a big basketball fan, but, teaching seniors in the spring, you have to have something that's exciting that's also educational to keep them motivated, and this seems to work," Linda Gooding, the classes instructor told CBS. "It's really applying math in a fun way for something that they all are interested in - the March Madness"

The students are tasked with picking the best brackets based on mathematical models, the same process students at Davidson, Georgia Tech, and Princeton use to predict their brackets. The brackets are then compared and pitted against the others in the class. The winner is awarded an A, and has bragging rights among their classmates. 

The Roanoke Region is known for its Acclaimed Higher Education with over 25 colleges and universities in the area, but now the high school STEM teachings of the region are also drawing national attention. This innovative way to teach the material, while also keeping it fun to hold students' attention is what puts the Roanoke Region on the cutting edge of education. 

Read the story and see the video on >>>

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Delta Sky High on Roanoke Region

Roanoke Featured in Delta Sky MagazineIf you fly Delta Airlines this April, you may find some familiar faces in the seat back pocket. Delta's in-flight entertainment magazine Sky profiled the Roanoke Region for the upcoming issue, which features Richard Branson on the cover. 

Split into three parts over 30 pages, the profile features the best the Roanoke Region and the New River Valley have to offer in the realms of business and tourism. Beautiful photos of the area are spread throughout, interspersed with "My Roanoke" sidebars featuring quotes from locals such as Carilion Clinic CEO Nancy Agee, Roanoke Mayor David Bowers, musician Nicole Yun, and Robert Kulp and Mike Whiteside of Black Dog Salvage . 

The feature begins by touting the region's rebound from the Great Recession and its diverse economic turnaround in a section titled "Virginia in the Vanguard." Roanoke's health care industry, higher education, branding of the outdoors, and other factors, were cited as reasons for the region's resurgence over the past decade. 

The second segment of the profile focuses on the tourism industry, outdoor access, and cultural amenities of the region. Along with recommending a trip up Mill Mountain and a ride on the greenway, author Jenny Kincaid Boone lauded the growing craft beer and farm-to-table restaurant scenes, proving Roanoke is ahead of the cultural curve. 

Keep an eye out for the issue during your next trip. 

Check out the full article here >>>

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Parkway Brewing Plays Bracket Buster

Get Bent It’s not just the University of Virginia Cavaliers who are busting brackets this March, the Roanoke Region has a Cinderella story of its own. Salem’s Parkway Brewing rode a wave of community support to propel its way into the final four of Blue Ridge Outdoors’ MicroBrew Madness tournament.

The BRO bracket pitted the top 32 microbrews in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic against each other in a March Madness style tournament. At just over a year old, Parkway was one of the youngest breweries in the bracket, but this diaper dandy went on quite the run, making it all the way to the semifinals with several upsets along the way. Parkway’s flagship brew, Get Bent IPA, was chosen to represent the brewery in the IPA regional of the bracket, which was based on online reader votes.

"We were pleasantly surprised to be included in the bracket and humbled to make the final four with such distinguished breweries," said Parkway Brewing Owner Mike "Keno" Snyder. "We appreciate our passionate supporters and look forward to providing great beer for years to come." 

In the opening round, Parkway took down Black Mountain, North Carolina’s Pisgah Brewing Company IPA. Pisgah IPA was named the best beer in NC by the Daily Meal last year, so this opening round victory set the tone for the rest of the tournament. In the round of 16, Get Bent went up against the Hoptimization IPA from 3 Brothers Brewing out of Harrisonburg, Va. Previously in BRO, Harrisonburg was voted as the “Best Beer Town” in the Blue Ridge, mainly based on the popularity of 3 Brothers, so this was another tough matchup for Get Bent, especially given the in-state rivalry. Parkway again came out on top, a testament to the community support behind the brewery and its craft beer.

Now, in the round of eight, Parkway faced another upstart Virginia brewery; Three Notch’d 40 Mile IPA out of Charlottesville. Although 40 Mile gave Get Bent a run for its money, Parkway was able to outlast the competition to win the IPA Regional and advance to the Final Four, taking on the winner of the Lager regional.

Alas, this is where the Cinderella Story ended for Get Bent. Going head to head with one of the most award-winning breweries and award-winning beers on the East Coast was too much for the little brewery that could. Parkway went down to Devils Backbone Vienna Lager, who had run rampant through the Lager Regional, taking down Hi-Wire in the opening round, then a couple of major craft breweries in Oskar Blues and Heavy Seas. A fierce round of voting ended with Devils Backbone advancing to the finals. In a bit of a moral victory, DB did go on to take the title, topping Highland Brewing Gaelic Ale in the finals.

Congrats to Parkway Brewing on their fine performance and to all the Roanoke Region’s craft brew enthusiasts who voted in the tournament. 

See the final bracket >>>

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Ardagh Development Wins CiCi Award

CiCi Award to ArdaghWhen Ardagh Group announced they were locating a new state-of-the-art metal can manufacturing facility in Roanoke County, it was a big win for the Roanoke Region. Now, the Ardagh announcement is winning awards of its own. 

Ardagh's project received a 2014 CiCi (Corporate Investment & Community Impact) Award from Trade & Industry Development magazine. In August, the Luxembourg-based food and beverage metal and glass packaging company announced it would be investing $93.5 million and creating nearly 100 jobs in the Roanoke Region. It is the largest manufacturing investment in Roanoke County's history and the largest new business announcement in Virginia in 2013. 

Trade & Industry Development granted Ardagh one of 15 Community Impact Awards, citing not only the initial corporate development, but also the larger impact of choosing to locate in the Roanoke Region. As the result of the announcement to locate their new plant in Roanoke County, one of their major suppliers, Netherlands-based Canline Systems, also chose to open a new facility in Roanoke County to be closer to its major customers. 

"The Ardagh Group project is on schedule in the Hollins area with significant building renovation work nearing completion,” says Jill Loope, Roanoke County director of economic development. “Blaine Construction, contractor for the project, says that approximately 85 percent of the renovations are complete with a target finish of May 2014. Equipment installations are also well underway with plans to be fully operational by the end of the year. A grand opening ceremony is planned for October with details to follow in the near future."

Ardagh Group Site Under Construction


"The Community Impact category of Trade & Industry Development magazine’s 9th Annual CiCi Awards not only highlights 15 U.S. companies that announced economic development projects during 2013, but celebrates programs that will make a big impact on their respective communities as well. The Community Impact Awards also recognize the local and state economic development agencies that work in lockstep with their communities to attract this kind of development.

Every Community Impact Award recipient has a great story behind the project. And behind the project are hundreds or even thousands of people who stand to benefit, each with their own stories as well." 

Read more about the 9th Annual CiCi Awards >>>

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Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Leads Way in Brain Awareness Outreach

VTCRI Brain Awareness WeekThe Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute was recently recognized by the Dana Foundation for its work on public outreach during Brain Awareness Week (BAW). The executive director of the VTCRI, Michael Friedlander, Ph.D., was interviewed for the Alliance’s blog, specifically focused on last year’s successful events put on by the VTCRI during BAW.

Dana was especially impressed with the children’s outreach programs including the “Mythbusters: The Truth About Your Brain” event for middle and high school students in partnership with the Science Museum of Western Virginia, and the creativity around “Food for Thought: Chefs Celebrate Brain Awareness Week,” which challenged local restaurants to create dishes using brain-healthy ingredients.

Read the full interview with Dr. Friedlander >>>

The Dana Foundation sponsors public brain awareness activities in cities around the globe and is one of the main organizations supporting brain research through grants, publications, and educational programs.

Brain Awareness Week is March 10-16, but the VTCRI will be holding events and programs through March 27.

You can find a list of upcoming events on their website >>>

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