Roanoke city plans to establish an innovation hub

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Roanoke City council announced its strategy to increase focus on innovation and economic inclusion.

As Roanoke's downtown continues to develop, so do other areas around the city. Roanoke city council wants to establish innovation hub between Carilion Clinic and the edge of downtown.

"Which would allow us to marshall the different resources of Carilion, Virginia Tech, the city and other partners into something that would keep track of innovation, entrepreneurship, and things like that," said Marc Nelson, Roanoke Economic Development.

Marc Nelson will lead this new initiative so that all efforts from organizations like RAMP, Jefferson College, and others are cohesive.
Nelson is partnering with Aisha Johnson, Assistant to the City Manager, to ensure all people from all over the city are included.

"It's important to put that economic equity piece in there now from the start," said Nelson.

They plan to use cities like Durham, North Carolina and Gainesville, Florida as guides. Nelson says in the next couple of years he hopes there is a defined corridor and that people with city-wide benefit from the expansion.

"You'd see successful spin-offs coming out of VTCRI, Carilion, and other businesses," said Nelson. "You'd see start-ups and other successful businesses populating that main strip downtown and going into south Roanoke. You'd see people from the different community being able to access those businesses and build equity for themselves."

Nelson also says there will be community meetings in the near future to gather ideas from residents.