Build It & They Will Come? I Don’t Think So

This month’s Blue Ridge Business Journal contained an article entitled Mall Brawl: Re-Emergence of Shopping, and I just had to comment.  I couldn’t help myself!  The article was about the re-emergence of, well, shopping, and how consumers are still choosing the convenience of malls and so, in response, the mall owners are revitalizing their properties.  I’m all for redevelopment, and I will wholeheartedly agree that the New River Valley is in prime position for explosive growth.  I like the Business Journal’s product, and they have certainly been good to me, as well.  But there’s a glaring omission in the article – which I hope you’ll read here – and I just had to respond. 

It’s true that the New River Valley is a fast-growing area of Virginia, and that we’ve just been named one of the Top-10 fastest growing Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in the country.  In the whole wide US of A!  But just because the area is poised for growth doesn’t mean that we’re going to keep talented people here if we don’t make a concerted effort to provide opportunities for them – opportunities in real estate, in social activities, in the arts and in employment.  It’s a problem that my bud Stuart Mease over at Roanoke is working on with young professionals, and is making tremendous inroads with, but there’s so much more to be done. 

This is an exciting time to be a member of this wonderful community, but it’s also a time when we really need to focus on what our initiatives really are.  Are we interested in really creating a synergy between our sense of community and the tremendous pool of talent we have here at Virginia Tech, Radford University, Roanoke College and others, or do we want to stay a sleepy little town in Southwest Virginia?  I’d guess that if we keep letting that talent leave, there’ll be no need for these retail centers.  Guess I’ll keep shopping online until we find out …

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