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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Franklin County joins new regional authority

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Elected officials from Franklin, Botetourt and Roanoke counties, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton held a signing ceremony last week to create the Western Virginia Regional Industrial Facility Authority.

The authority will allow the local governments to cooperate on the development of economic projects, such as improving industrial sites.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced last week that the Roanoke Regional Partnership, administrator for the authority, will receive $65,000 in funding from the Building Collaborative Communities program, which promotes regional economic collaboration to stimulate job creation and economic development. The funds will be used to provide technical assistance to the authority as it works to identify opportunities for collaborative development.

The authority is the outcome of an economic summit called in February by Roanoke County Board Chairman Michael Altizer. John Rhodes, a site selection consultant, brought attention to challenges with available sites.

"Having real estate and being at the right level of readiness will not guarantee a company will show up, but not having real estate or not being at the right level of readiness will guarantee they won't show up," said Rhodes.

Officials pledged to form a task force to address the issues raised by Rhodes. The result was the formation of the authority that was adopted individually by each locality and formalized with the joint signing.

"Everyone wants jobs and prosperity and the entire region benefits from the actions of each locality to drive those factors," said Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. "But creating product for economic development is an expensive proposition, which falls to Roanoke region governments that now are taking the best approach to the challenge by sharing in the costs and the benefits."

"The Roanoke Regional Partnership celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. When it was formed in 1983, it was unique that local governments would work together instead of competing, Doughty said. "That concept has been carried out in many ways since then in examples such as the Western Virginia Water Authority, Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the new broadband authority."

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