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Area leaders forge partnership to discuss, build shared vision

Leaders from the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Montgomery County, the New River Valley Regional Commission, and Virginia Tech recently met in Blacksburg to discuss strategic opportunities to work together to advance and support the shared interests of the region.

What emerged from that meeting was an agreement to engage in a one-year initiative that will explore opportunities to collaborate in the best interests of the New River Valley.

To facilitate this effort, the partners will engage with LINK Strategic Partners, a global strategic communications and community engagement consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. that helps communities translate challenges into opportunities for success.

In his February 2024, State of the University address, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands highlighted Virginia Tech’s ongoing commitment to work with local partners to develop an aligned approach to the region’s shared aspirations and obstacles.

"We've made progress and are ready for the university, towns, county, and surrounding region to join and forge a path to improve our community for all," Sands said. "I look forward to a productive dialogue that helps us better understand our needs and develop a plan to address our shared goals."

"As always, the Town’s primary concern is for its residents’ quality of life," said Town of Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith. "We look forward to any process that will help to advance that priority and that will enhance relations with our partners on the university side."

Quality of life for all citizens, especially when addressing pressing challenges as the region continues to grow and evolve, is at the forefront of working together. Virginia Tech and surrounding communities work together on a variety of local infrastructure interests, from transportation to solid waste. As a land-grant institution, the university is interconnected with the communities that it serves and partners in local efforts to enhance the region, such as passenger rail.

"The New River Valley Regional Commission is focused on the physical, social, and economic elements that create opportunities for our region, so I'm excited to be part of this joint visioning that reaches beyond infrastructure," said Executive Director of the New River Valley Regional Commission Kevin Byrd.

"We have an opportunity to focus on our shared interests and the people in our communities at a time when the region is experiencing great momentum."

"The Town of Christiansburg welcomes the opportunity to engage in dialogue with Virginia Tech and our surrounding municipalities in order to help plan for our future needs in housing, retail, and transportation," said Town of Christiansburg Mayor Mike Barber.

"We recognize the economic impact of Virginia Tech as many students, staff, and faculty continue to shop, dine, and live within Christiansburg. As the university grows, so do the demands on infrastructure, transportation, schools, and housing. This partnership affords us the opportunity to plan and grow our future together. Virginia Tech is a major piece of our two towns and county economy. This partnership will encourage collaboration and partnership as an independent and collective benefit."

As this initiative progresses, there will be opportunities for university and community leaders and citizens of the New River Valley to reflect and provide feedback on ways the region is already thriving and identify ways to move forward together. 

"The New River Valley has a proven track record of coming together to productively address and solve issues our community faces," said Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Biggs. "The county welcomes this new strategic initiative and values the community partnerships necessary to identify opportunities for collaboration as we address our needs and celebrate our successes."

Sands also noted that joining forces and collaborating where it makes sense is a win for the region. 

"Together we can identify shared challenges, and develop solutions based on the unique strengths and perspectives we each bring to the table," said Sands. "We can also explore opportunities where our aspirations align and develop a shared vision to support mutually beneficial outcomes." 

With support from LINK Strategic Partners, this initiative will seek to establish a robust and sustainable community outreach process, including facilitation and stakeholder engagement. The work with LINK is anticipated to take one year and be completed in Spring 2025. 

Contact the county

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Montgomery County Government Center

755 Roanoke St.
Christiansburg, VA 24073-3181


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