Chamber provides public comment on I-81

The Roanoke Regional Chamber provided the following comments on the I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan at the October 25 public meeting hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment.

On behalf of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and the organizations we serve, thank you for the opportunity to comment on the ongoing I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan. Improving I-81 has been a longstanding policy goal for our members, and we appreciate the efforts of the administration, elected leaders, and transportation advocates to make this initiative a top priority.

Interstate 81 is the artery of western Virginia that connects our communities to economic opportunities around Virginia, the United States, and the world. Significant improvements to the corridor are immediately necessary to foster future growth.

Data shows that I-81 has the highest proportion of incident related delay compared to all other Virginia interstates, presenting unique safety and reliability challenges. We appreciate the work that has been conducted to identify incident hotspots and potential solutions along the corridor. With multiple contributing factors in these problem areas, the most effective solutions will be a combination of capital and operational improvements.

Twenty-two out of thirty-three identified projects in the Salem district have been recommended for funding at this point. While we understand that projects must be prioritized based on funding capacity, I would like to re-iterate the Chamber’s support for projects proposed in the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization’s recent “TED” study, which identifies and prioritizes investment in projects that will advance regional economic goals.

The Chamber recognizes that existing revenue is not sufficient to support needed improvements on I-81. Areas in Virginia with the highest level of interstate investment rely primarily on regional funding. The Roanoke Regional Chamber supports a regionally dedicated fund for infrastructure improvements in the I-81 corridor.

As Senate Bill 971 progressed through the 2018 General Assembly, we supported amended language to assess the economic impact of truck-tolls on manufacturing, agriculture, and logistics sector companies. The final analysis will be an important consideration as tolling concepts are developed.

The latest inclusion of auto tolls and I-81 commuter passes does seem to make the financing structure more equitable among all users of the corridor. As the placements of toll gantries are mapped out, we urge the Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to avoid interference between the New River Valley and the Roanoke Valley, including Botetourt County, where regional economic connections continue to develop and grow.

We look forward to analyzing the new concepts presented in the most recent iteration of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan to understand how toll rates and gantry locations will impact our local businesses and broader regional economy.

Our goal is to support improvements to I-81 that will make the road safer and more reliable for all users – including businesses moving goods and services, commuters traveling to and from work, students driving to one of the thirty colleges or universities routing the corridor, and visitors exploring Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Again, thank you for making this initiative a priority and for the opportunity to offer feedback on behalf of the Roanoke regional business community.

Volunteers needed for “JA in a Day”

Leadership Roanoke Valley (LRV) alumni and Junior Achievement (JA) are teaming up again to impact our community! Volunteer for “JA in a Day” on Wednesday, November 14 from 8 a.m. to noon in third grade classrooms across Roanoke City. There is a required one-hour training prior to November 14, which you will coordinate with JA after signing up. You do not need to be a LRV graduate to participate. If you are interested, please email Ruth Cassell at ruth3of5@gmail.com.

About JA in a Day

Imagine spending an entire school day with a classroom full of students who are excited to have you there, and are anxious to learn how to be successful in the global economy. JA in a Day is a special Junior Achievement delivery method that facilitates the partnership
between a business and an elementary school. Like all JA programs, business volunteers help educate and inspire youth about the connection between education and success in the workplace, and give them hope for the future.

JA in a Day is different from other JA programs only in that the entire JA elementary school program is covered in the course of one day in the school. At the end of the school day, the students will have completed all five JA lessons and will have earned their JA certificate. Normally, this process would take five weeks to complete. Curriculum, training and support is provided by Junior Achievement.

Why should you attend Small Business Awards?

By: Cally Smith, Vice President of Membership & Brand Strategy

If you have spent any amount of time at a Roanoke Regional Chamber event, you have most likely heard about the Small Business Awards. This event, much like other Chamber events, is your opportunity to make connections with the business community. What you might have missed is what makes this event truly special. Here are five reasons why Small Business Awards is my favorite Chamber event:

1. Humble beginnings – The Small Business Awards ceremony started in 1986 as a lunch program with less than 50 attendees. Fast forward 30 years, and this event is the Chamber’s most attended banquet program with nearly 600 attendees each year.

2. Missed Connections – So I know we constantly talk about networking (I know I’m kind of over that word too) however this event is a lot different. Every single year I meet new people at Small Business Awards – whether you consider yourself a networking novice or a networking expert you will find kindred spirits and quite possibly that elusive contact you have been trying to connect with for weeks.

3. American Hustle – Roanoke is home to some incredible entrepreneurs. From multigenerational family businesses to one person shops with a big dream, the Small Business Awards has them all. Learning about the exceptional work these business owners are doing makes it easy to be proud of your hometown. Many of our nominees have been participating in the Small Business Awards for 10+ years. This night is our opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and put them in the spotlight.

4. We Heart the Arts – Our region is home to a vibrant community of arts and culture organizations. The Small Business Awards ceremony pays homage to this community and our other not-for-profit organizations by highlighting them alongside the small businesses. I’m so glad I don’t have the difficult job of choosing a winner among these remarkable organizations … unfortunately there cannot be an 18-way tie.

5. 5 Star Review – My favorite thing about Small Business Awards is the way businesses are selected to participate. This year, business leaders in our region identified nearly 300 businesses as deserving of being named the 2018 Small Business of the Year. I love seeing businesses build each other up by taking the time to say “you deserve to be recognized,” and that is what Small Business Awards is all about.

The good news is, you still can make the Small Business Awards your favorite Chamber event too. Make sure you experience this event with us on November 1 by registering today. You know you need dinner anyway….

Thank you for your support!

Happy Chamberversary

Happy Chamber anniversary to these members. Thank you for your membership renewal this month.

  • American National Bank & Trust Co.
  • Belk Department Store – Tanglewood Mall
  • Big Lick Boomerang
  • Bowers Holiday Village
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia
  • Butler Parachute Systems Group, Inc.
  • Cancun Mexican Restaurant & Grill
  • Coca – Cola Bottling Consolidated
  • Colonial Title & Settlement Agency, LLC
  • Commonwealth Tool Specialty, Inc.
  • Covenant Real Estate Services
  • Cox Communications
  • Croy Contracting
  • Daniel S. Chitwood, Certified Landscape Architect
  • Earth Environmental & Civil
  • ETS – Executive Talent Search
  • Family Service of Roanoke Valley
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Frank Chervan Inc.
  • G & H Contracting Inc.
  • Hamlar – Curtis Funeral Home
  • Hanging Rock Golf Club
  • New Vista Montessori School
  • Otis Elevator Co.
  • PMI Payroll Management
  • PowerSchool
  • RGM Properties
  • Richard Macher Properties, LLC
  • Roanoke Accident Support Services
  • Roanoke Catholic School
  • Rob Dean Law – Criminal Defense
  • Robert Young’s Auto & Truck, Inc.
  • Spectrum Design, PC
  • Sprint
  • Target Marketing, Inc.
  • Team Nurse
  • Tech Squared, Inc.

Promote your business in Valley Life

As you think about your advertising plans for the upcoming year, we are delighted to continue our partnership with LeisureMedia360 to produce the 2019 edition of Valley Life.

By combining the strength of our Chamber membership with the strength of LeisureMedia360’s award-caliber editorial and strong distribution plan, you receive the best of both worlds. The 2018 edition received rave reviews from our members, as well as readers of The Roanoker.

In 2019, distribution will again include insertion into the Insider & Newcomer Guide, plus newcomer mailings, mailings to individual requests by the thousands and much more. In addition to local distribution, Valley Life will reach thousands of readers out of market who can learn about you before they even arrive in our area. This builds terrific awareness and branding for your organization.

There are participation levels for every budget, with NO advertising rate increase. Advertisers can select the special feature section where their ad appears, with excellent Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer reach. Special feature sections include Business, Neighborhoods, Health Care, Education and more. PLUS, as a chamber member you are eligible to take advantage of lower “member rates” for advertising in Valley Life. Click here to learn more.

Sales close on November 16, 2018. For more information about advertising, please contact Julie Mayer at 540.819.8375 or jmayer@leisuremedia360.com.