|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Regional Innovation Program||1||$499,833|
Roanoke, VA - The City of Roanoke has a total population of 330,918 (2010 U.S. Census) and is the largest municipality in western Virginia. According to the Alleghany Planning District Commission it is the principal location for the region and serves as the center for western Virginia's legal, financial, healthcare, insurance, retail, transportation, and cultural sectors. In addition to the sectors listed, the region remains strong in both manufacturing and distribution, with a significant presence of automotive, steel, and food production and warehousing facilities. The region has been hard hit in the past two decades with companies relocating outside of the U.S. looking for reduced labor and costs. The Roanoke economy has been impacted by significant job displacements. The proposed investment would assist in the construction of a production and distribution facility that would help replace jobs lost from other manufacturing, production, and distribution companies in the Roanoke area.
In February 2017, EDA invested $1,514,280 in Public Works funds to the City of Roanoke to fund the construction of a road extension and improvements to surrounding infrastructure. Within the 12 months prior to the date of the city’s application, roughly 690 jobs were lost with the closing of several company headquarters. This trend continued into the manufacturing industry with the closing of the Home Shopping Network’s distribution center which will eliminate an additional 350 positions. The EDA investment supports the construction of 3,375 linear feet of the 26-foot wide Blue Hills Drive extension. The Blue Hills Drive extension project is located in the eastern portion of the City and is adjacent to US 460, 3.6 miles from US 220 and I-581, and 7.2 miles from I-81, all of which are major transportation corridors serving the northeastern and southeastern U.S. and the Port of Virginia. Additional project elements include landscaping, sidewalks, and lighting with other components. This investment will provide a direct road connection and utility access to the proposed 49-acre site of the Deschutes brewery as well as to an ancillary site owned by the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op in Heritage Point.
The EDA investment is anticipated to create 154 jobs and leverage $95,000,000 in private investment in a sustainable food industry. Deschutes Brewery will provide not only significant local job opportunities and a degree of supply-chain and spin-off impacts, but also serve as a major boost to local tourism. The tourism component of the impact meshes with the larger city economic development strategies, also including active recreation, as the site is proximate to the developing regional trail and park system. Long-term plans include product export to Europe. Finally, Deschutes executed an agreement with the City of Roanoke to target hiring from the city’s most distressed areas, ensuring the positive impacts extend to the city’s poorest communities.