Roanoke Times Editorial
This week nearly 200 business and government leaders from the Roanoke and New River valleys gathered for what was billed as the region’s first entrepreneurial summit. “This is a test of a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem,” declared Meredith Hundley, program director for the Valley Innovation Council. That test appeared to be a successful one — a two-day networking event designed to allow people to make connections, and talk about how to grow the region’s nascent start-up sector. The keynote speaker was Thomas Osha, senior vice president for Wexford Science + Technology, a Baltimore developer that “works exclusively with universities, academic medical centers and major research institutions” to develop what industry lingo calls “innovation districts.” That’s a phrase already in vogue in Roanoke, because it’s a goal to create such an “innovation district” around the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute…
…There was another point that Osha made multiple times, too, one that didn’t deal with traditional business issues such as venture capital and workforce development. He emphasized the importance of a thriving arts community — because that’s part of the quality-of-life that makes communities more attractive from an economic development point of view. “Austin depends as much on the arts scene as the coders on 6th Street hanging out above the bars,” he said.