State lawmakers visit southside and western Virginia

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Richmond can seem a world away from the problems and promise of western Virginia, but this week, our part of Virginia has been telling its story to lawmakers from across the state.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee visited the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Wednesday, during a tour that took them to southside Virginia, the Roanoke Valley and the Lexington area.

Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands was there. So was Carilion Clinic CEO Nancy Agee who thanked lawmakers for the state support that is spurring development in the region.

"You know these things are one thing at a time," Agee told the lawmakers, "but you're seeing a real change in the economy of this region. I want to say thank you for that. and what you've seen in the last 10 years, you're going to see double of that in the next 10 years."

Coming soon is the new research institute building, included in a bond issue that lawmakers have already approved. And there is more to come.

Michael Friedlander is the Executive Director of the research institute.

"So we think we're on a great path," Friedlander told WDBJ7. "We wanted to share with them the discoveries that have been made, where we're going and show them that we're trying to do the right thing with the confidence they've shown in us."

Roanoke wasn't the only stop. The three-day tour took lawmakers from Danville and Martinsville to Roanoke and Rockbridge County. It wraps up on Thursday at the University of Virginia.

Bringing lawmakers to western Virginia, says Christiansburg Delegate Nick Rush, will pay dividends in January.

"If you want things to work, you have to have a good story," Rush said, "and this is a perfect place to show what we're doing here in western Virginia."

This is the third year in a row that members of the Appropriations Committee have toured a region of the state. Last year, they took in the Eastern Shore. We're told some of the lawmakers had never visited southside Virginia before this week.