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City Manager's Blog

Learn about the City of Roanoke from the City Manager's point of view.

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Jul 13

Why Local Matters

Posted on July 13, 2020 at 2:56 PM by Melinda Mayo

There have been a number of instances in the past couple of weeks that highlight the value of local decision making and action.  This week’s post discusses a few.

Banks and Credit Unions

This Sunday, The Roanoke Times published an article on loans that were issued as part of the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a lifeline for many small businesses and nonprofits during the early part of the COVID-related shutdown.  Sixty percent of the total loans processed were through banks and credit unions with headquarters in Richmond, Danville, Blacksburg, or right here in Roanoke.  While every loan was greatly valued by the recipients, it especially rewarding to know that, in most cases, these loans were made by neighbors helping other neighbors right here in our area.

Artists

In the best of times most artists struggle to earn a living plying their trade. COVID has made this especially challenging as performing arts venues, museums, and events have all essentially closed or ceased to be scheduled. Still, local artists have collaborated with others in meaningful and creative ways that have included live virtual concerts, virtual galleries and, just this past weekend, a group of local artists who came together to create a street mural proclaiming the need to “End Racism Now.”  Our local artists continue to create and find ways to challenge us and help us process all that is going on in the world.  Even in these challenging times, they continue to contribute to the vibrancy of our community.

School Board

Many challenging decisions have had to be made over the last several months.  Perhaps none as daunting as when and how to return area children to school.  Though guidance has been provided by the CDC and the Governor, in the end the decision will be made as it should be—locally, by our school board, and by people who live in our neighborhoods and have children and grandchildren in our public schools.  Challenging as it is, I can think of no better group to make this decision than our local school board members working in collaboration with parents and teachers.

Community Priorities

Over the next several months there will be a number of critical decisions about the priorities of our community and what we spend tax dollars on.  Some of these decisions will relate to funds associated with supporting the community’s recovery from COVID and working to make it more resilient to similar shocks in the future.  Other decisions will relate to how we conduct policing, economic development, and community development in our City.  Each of these will be addressed in the City’s Strategic Plan and then in the annual budget.  Again, I can think of no better way to ensure these decisions are truly beneficial to our community than by locally elected officials engaging with the citizenry, making these decisions.

While national banks have their place and artists with global appeal are certainly entertaining, and the federal and state governments are critical to the success of our community, nothing is more essential than local folks solving local challenges and seizing upon local opportunities.  The value of these cannot be overstated, and it is essential this emphasis remain strong as we grapple with what might lie ahead.  It is these local institutions and actions that make our Star City strong!

— Bob Cowell


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