Virginia Tech and Carilion to host forum for local government leaders

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) For the first time ever, nearly all the counties, cities, and towns from the New River Valley and the Roanoke-Alleghany Valley will come together to hear what Virginia Tech and Carilion are anticipating for the future.

"With the expansion of the research institute with the new construction that Carilion has, we're talking about lots and lots of things happening," Wayne Strickland, the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission's executive director, said.

Carilion sent WDBJ7 a statement about the upcoming event, reading in part:

"The partnership established by our organizations has allowed us to use health care innovations and research emerging from our hospitals and academic health center to help drive economic growth and development in the region."

Virginia Tech also reached out with a statement from President Tim Sands:

"Virginia Tech is connected to every locality that will be represented at this joint meeting.... Today we are at the threshold of a new level of cooperation and engagement."

Strickland said the the growth of the medical school and the university is a major part of the region's increasing population.

"I think what they're doing is putting us on the map in terms of medical research" Strickland said. "Of course, having a medical college makes a difference, but then the expansion of Carilion also builds this feeling that we really are a health center for all of western Virginia."

He explained that within 60 miles of Roanoke, there 55,000 college students, but very few them stay after graduation. He hopes the future opportunities in the area will change that.

"When we bring local governments together we always hope they get to know each other," he said. "And we really need to work together to make sure that this area is the best region, not only in Virginia but in the country."

Thursday's meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.