Regional leaders meet with VT’s Sands, Carilion’s Agee in first-of-its-kind forum


Elected leaders from around the Commonwealth met with the leaders of Carilion and Virginia Tech Thursday evening to talk about the future of southwest Virginia’s economy.

This is the first such meeting between VTC and local leaders, and both sides hope it’ll better steer the area’s health care system, which some call ‘the engine of economic growth.’

Carilion head Nancy Agee says Carilion’s service area includes 230 miles, one million people, and more than 13,000 employees.

She adds that Carilion boasts two billion dollars – and growing – in annual revenue, and that the nearby orthopedic center – where the old Ukrop’s used to be – has been so successful, for example, that it’s helped give rise to the nearby Mellow Mushroom and Earth Fare.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands went over the impact of the partnership too, including how it’s helping the school become more of a global presence.

The pair held a Q&A with leaders afterward and addressed concerns about expansion, like housing shortages, regional and rural health care delivery, and even the new VT innovation campus.

As a whole, the reception was very positive.

“A rising tide lifts all ships. As the economy improves throughout the Roanoke valley – the New River Valley – it’s going to help everybody. It’s going to help everybody within 20 counties of here,” said Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission Executive Director Wayne Strickland.

Agee hinted that Carilion will soon have an economic impact study from UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center, which will show the true dollars-and-cents impact of the company and partnership.

All the speakers acknowledged that there are many problems – a lack of diversity in health care, for one – that won’t be tackled with one discussion, and they look forward to holding additional ones in the future.

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