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Community Profile: Lynchburg


like that to get everybody’s attention,” Hanson admits. In response, the government obtained


$122,000 in grant funding and ponied up $3,000 of its own money to conduct a comprehensive economic development strategic plan. “It’s unusual for a small rural county


to get this much money to take this in- depth level of a look at what we could do, and I like to think that these funders rec- ognized the crisis that was brewing here,” Hanson says. “And the community was overwhelmingly interested and motivated to participate and provide their input.” In 2016, Hanson and her team began


to implement a multi-pronged plan. They are creating a new brand for the county and are proactively performing environ- mental assessments and leveling sites in its existing business parks. In addition, a new visitor’s center, located in a refurbished train depot, will open this year.


From the ground up Upshur notes that, while it’s excit-


ing to attract new business prospects, economic development officials in the


region are putting most of their focus on supporting existing businesses and developing talent. Several localities, including


Lynchburg and Altavista, are running entrepreneurial boot camps that have helped a number of graduates in start- ing companies. Lynchburg, meanwhile, kicks off the first of several TechHire training sessions in January to prepare unemployed residents for jobs that are in high demand. Upshur explains that 15 local


employers, including Centra Health, Sharptop, BWXT, RR Donnelley and Porter’s Fabrication, will provide training and paid apprenticeships to 210 people during the next four years. “We are bridging the gap between opportunity and training, such that we’re saying to


these employees, ‘If you train with us, you will also be employed by one of these companies at the end of your training period,’” she says. The region already is benefiting


from a number of recent expansions. In Altavista, BGF Industries and Schrader- Bridgeport International are collectively investing $5.5 million in new tools and machinery, which will result in a total of about 50 new jobs, while Abbott Labora- tories expects to add another 50 jobs once it completes a nearly $40 million expan- sion of its nutrition manufacturing facility. Bedford also has seen a lot of new


business activity. Simplimatic Automa- tion, which provides materials handling, conveyor automation and robotics inte- gration, moved from Campbell County to the 500-acre New London Business and


Lynchburg region at a glance


Population Change from 2010


264,158 4.6%


Unemployment rate (Oct.)


4.6%


Median family income


$59,251


Adults (25+) with bachelor’s degrees


24.4% Average


weekly wage $755


Sources: Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Employment Commission, Lynchurg Regional Business Alliance


Hometown friendly. Multi-state strong.


Benny Bennington Lynchburg


Lewis Mundin Lynchburg


Jordon Banton Lynchburg


Courtney Holdren Bedford


James A. Stanley, CPCU Bedford


Beck Stanley Bedford


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www.VirginiaBusiness.com VIRGINIA BUSINESS 73


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