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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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Sep 24

Roanoke Means Business

Posted on September 24, 2019 at 9:05 AM by Melinda Mayo

Each month I have the opportunity to host a breakfast for a handful of local businesses.  This breakfast, which started with my predecessor, enables me to meet with folks running businesses and organizations large and small, new and old, and to hear from them how things are going.

Large and Small

The breakfast allows us to inform businesses and organizations of the services the City provides through our Economic Development Department, and to check in with them for a better understanding of their successes and challenges.  I am always amazed at the diversity of the businesses and organizations we have in our community.  I have welcomed businesses that consist of a sole owner and those employing thousands.  Not surprisingly, though the scale may differ, the challenges faced by large and small are no different.  Challenges in securing talent, maintaining customers, and keeping up with the pace of change and innovation is mentioned by everyone, every month.  This is one of the reasons we are so involved with the Roanoke Regional Partnership in supporting their talent development efforts, and with RAMP in their efforts at business acceleration and mentoring.

Near and Far

One of the other things I enjoy in hosting the breakfast is learning how our local businesses and organizations operate at a hyper-local scale—for example, where restaurants are serving food prepared from produce grown on farms surrounding our city—and at an international scale.  Businesses here sell their products and services the world over, making us an integral part of the global economy.  This diversity is shared by the business operators themselves with folks born and raised here running their business, and others having traveled far to set up shop here in Roanoke.  In more than one instance, I have heard harrowing tales of refugees making their way from places as distant as Afghanistan or Vietnam who today are proud business owners in Roanoke.  I am grateful we are such a welcoming community. 

New and Legacy

It is also amazing to meet the folks that only recently started their business, and observe the initiative and grit it takes to do what they are doing.  Alongside them, I have hosted businesses that are multi-generational selling their wares for 100 years or more.  I marvel at their ability to remain relevant as the world around them changes in dramatic ways.  

These business and organizations, large and small, local and international, new and legacy, are a part of what makes Roanoke successful and adds immeasurably to its vitality and diversity.  I am pleased to host a few of them each month, so that I can enjoy their stories and learn from them.  If you would like to learn more about the opportunity to receive a business visit or about this breakfast, please contact Lisa Soltis in the Economic Development Department.  I look forward to meeting you!

-- Bob Cowell



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