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us in the middle of a field,” she says. “I couldn’t wait to leave. I couldn’t wait to get out of here.” As a student at Radford University,


she dreamed of marketing a NASCAR team. An internship required by Rad- ford, however, sent her in a different direction. Ricotta interned with Sam Steidle,


the creator of what would become the CoLab, a co-working space. There Ricotta encountered some of the area’s most engaging entrepreneurs and their infectious energy. She fell in love with the Roanoke region and wanted to find a way to promote it. Grace Boardwine grew up in Blue


Ridge, just outside of Roanoke, and says she saw something similar in her Vir- ginia Tech classmates. “They come down here,” she says. “They fall in love with the mountains. They fall in love with the area.”


The problem, she says, has been


a lack of affordable housing and a lack of jobs — at least, a lack of the kind of jobs that attract young people. “That’s changing now,” Boardwine says. She credits what she calls the area’s “outdoor revamping” and the businesses that has attracted. Boardwine grew up wanting to stay


in the area but assumed there would be no way for her to do that. But the day after she graduated with a degree in environmental resource management and forestry, she got a job as a naturalist with the Mountain Lake Conservancy. While working there, she’s also pursuing an online master’s degree in parks and resource management. She will start a new job soon, helping to market the Deschutes brewery that’s coming to Roanoke. While that job is not directly


related to her education, Boardwine says Deschutes shares her values. Saying it takes good water to make good beer, she talks about the company’s environmental consciousness. “It would be awesome to end up


with a sustainability-related job” with Deschutes, she says, but the marketing job means Boardwine and her fiancé won’t have to leave. “Both our families are in Botetourt County,” she says, “and we absolutely adore this area.”


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