Reported by Alana Austin, NBC 29 News
Things are looking up in the valley on the economic front. The Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP) hosted its annual meeting at the Best Western of Waynesboro Friday. Leaders from the region addressed a whole host of topics.
The SVP is a collaboration among public and private organizations. The idea being that working together will lead to greater success for the region. Friday, SVP members had a full agenda as leaders discussed progress made and what sectors still need work.
Over the past year, more marketing efforts and attendance at trade shows have all helped increase exposure for valley businesses.
“Our existing industry base has expanded tremendously over the past few years.” Robin Sullenberger, the CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership stated, “Getting the private sector involved in what we’re trying to do to promote economic development is critical to our success.”
Sullenberger points to the food industry as a stronghold, and advanced manufacturing and life sciences as other important fields here. But, a major issue remains. The keynote speaker, who leads Virginia’s community college system, says rural parts of the state need to boost graduation rates and skills-based training.
“The workforce portion of our promotional efforts is so critically important because without the appropriate skill sets we cannot promote the region effectively for development,” Sullenberger stated.
Leaders also addressed a transition in leadership. After 13 years with SVP, Sullenberger retires in September. Augusta County Economic Development Director Dennis Burnett will take over.
Burnett said, “I am very excited about the new opportunity. Robin has been a personal mentor to me during my time here in Augusta County; I’ve got big shoes to fill. I’m very confident we can maintain Robin’s legend and continue to take the partnership into the next level.”
Burnett says he’ll focus on advancing collaborative opportunities for the members and encouraging grassroots approaches to improving the valley’s economy.