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spinoff growth, including The Bridges, a 23-acre, $150 million mixed-use development on the Roanoke River. The city has extended its “down-


town” designation down Jefferson Street to the Roanoke River, suggesting a direction for growth south from the city’s thriving market district, which has been given an infusion of new energy by the construction of a new Hampton Inn on top of a park- ing garage and the construction of a new amphitheater in a redeveloped Elmwood Park. The new motel is slated to open this summer, and the amphitheater has attracted acts such as Sheryl Crow, Old Crow Medicine Show, Blondie and Huey Lewis and the News.


NRV seen as a hot spot The New River Valley has weath-


ered economic challenges to score some wins of its own. After two announced expansions in two years, Volvo Trucks announced layoffs of more than 700 employees in 2015. That number eventually dwindled to 500, but then a second round was announced in late spring. Despite that, employment in the


New River Valley remains strong. The jobless rate was 4.1 percent in May, down from a yearly average of 8.3 per- cent in 2010. There have been smaller compa-


nies and smaller expansions around the region helping carry the load,” says Charlie Jewell, executive director for the NRV Economic Development Alliance. Examples so far this year include


the attraction of Polymer Solutions Incorporated, a plastics and rubber test lab, creating 19 jobs; and the expan- sions of avionics parts manufacturer VPT Inc., creating 16 jobs; tech troubleshooter Ozmo App, creating 55 jobs; and tech firm Java Productions, creating 20 jobs. In June, Area Development maga-


zine ranked the NRV Metropolitan Statistical Area as 30th out of 394 among the hottest places for new and expanding businesses. Of midsized met- ros with populations between 160,000 and 600,000, it ranked 12th.


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