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...During the past year, the Lynchburg region saw 307 new jobs created, received $191,000 in economic development grants, had $34.8 million in capital investments and 59 new economic development investors.
These highlights were shared at the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance’s 2020 Annual Meeting on Wednesday.
Ryan McEntire, taxation partner with Brown Edwards and incoming chairman for the alliance’s board of directors, said because of the foresight and vision of leaders who brought the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce and regional economic development entity together in 2016, an annual report and business plan is able to be presented to businesses.
“It is because of their work that we get to belong to something extraordinary,” he said.
He said his vision for the 2020 alliance is to ignite a passion for the next generation to get involved.
“I think it’s our time in this room to make sure that we’re spending the time talking to our staff, our associates, our teammates about getting involved in this great community,” he said. “To live in this region at this time when the organization is championing economic and business growth is truly exciting.”
He told alliance members they would be receiving a business plan via email including several large goals the Alliance is pursuing in 2020. Some of these goals include working to expand commercial air service through the Lynchburg Regional Airport and creating a redevelopment plan for the Central Virginia Training Center.
“The professional alliance staff is focused on these key initiatives and our core mission,” he said. “We’ve also started the year off strong, advocating and fighting to protect the free enterprise system we’ve enjoyed in Virginia for many years. While we are blessed to have pro-business legislators representing our region, overall climate in the General Assembly has proved to be bleak for business.”
He said getting the Lynchburg region on the map nationally and internationally takes a lot of time and effort, but the board and staff of the Alliance are committed to that work.
In 2019, the alliance hosted the first Worlds of Opportunity Career Expo with more than 3,500 middle and high school students connecting with more than 50 employers. It hosted 115 young professionals at its inaugural YP Summit, and Leadership Lynchburg launched a collegiate level program called “Leading Off Campus” to connect students to regional employers by providing them with practical skills they were not learning in the classroom.
Todd Hall, CEO of First National Bank and former chairman of the organization’s board of directors, said attributes of the organization include determination, strength, hard work, perseverance, grit and relentless pursuit.
During the past year, he said, key performance measures were developed to gauge whether the alliance was generating desired results and more emphasis was placed on the recognition of performance gaps and actions needed to bridge those gaps.
“Executive board members were challenged in the boardroom to engage and participate at a higher level to make sure that they were doing their part to help improve the alliance’s performance and make sure we were positioned to capitalize on opportunities,” he said.
The organization championed key road projects, including the Lakeside Drive and U.S. 501 intersection, which received $16.7 million in state funding.
Hall said the alliance, which has 743 members, facilitated more than 60 opportunities for members to engage, connect and expand their brands and business networking, including signature events such as the annual meeting and a Business Hall of Fame event in November.
Megan Lucas, CEO of the alliance, said the organization will continue to focus on cultivating talent, enhancing the business climate, generating jobs and capital improvement through the region and promoting a worldwide brand image of why the area is the place businesses enjoy working out of.
“Moving forward this year, you expect opportunities to connect and we’ll bring people together for meaningful exchanges. You expect economic growth, we’ll clear the obstacles so you can thrive. You expect professional development opportunities and we’ll give you those opportunities to grow. You expect free enterprise and we will fight for it every day,” she said. “You expect extraordinary and we intend to deliver.”
Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482