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Roanoke’s mayor cites the hard work behind building region’s economy, improving city

Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea didn’t waste time getting to his proudest moment in his fourth State of the City address.

In June, the National Civic League, which has named Roanoke an All-America City seven times over, made the city its first inductee into the All-America City Hall of Fame.

“That tells a lot about the people we have in this city,” Lea said. “We did not achieve this status overnight. We worked long and hard to get there.”

Hard work was Lea’s theme on the day for the annual address given by Roanoke’s mayors at Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. The event was hosted by the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Lea mentioned hard work or working hard another 18 times during the course of his hour long rah-rah for Roanoke. This year’s speech, as has become the mayor’s habit, was primarily a long list of noteworthy achievements by the government, school system, public safety departments, businesses, nonprofits and others over the last year. Nods were also given to projects just getting underway or on the horizon.

“Roanoke works hard for a purpose,” Lea told the crowd of about 300. “To create value and quality of life. But most of all, we work hard because we care about our community.”

Following the city’s award on his list, was progress on the city’s innovation corridor, including expansion of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and a $50 million gift from the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust to support it, Carilion Clinic’s announcement of a $300 million expansion of Roanoke Memorial Hospital and the merger of Radford University and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Lea also cited the recent opening of Virginia Western Community College’s STEM Building.

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