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University economic development conference brings national spotlight, six-figure impact to region

November 21, 2016

A photo of Nancy Howell Agee and Michael Friedlander sitting on stage and talking.
Nancy Howell Agee, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic, left, and Michael Friedlander, founding executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, talk about their partnership and its economic impact on the region.

The University Economic Development Association (UEDA) drew more than 200 higher education professionals from across the country for its annual summit last month in Roanoke, producing an estimated local impact of $600,000, according to the organization's executive director.

Tim Hindes, executive director of UEDA, said the six-figure impact came from conference costs and additional spending at local restaurants and businesses.

Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development and its director, John Provo, were instrumental in bringing the group to Roanoke.

“The appeal of Roanoke and Blacksburg as a meeting site comes from their many economic development stories," Provo said. "We have everything from boxcars to biotech. We are growing our startup communities in both valleys, reimagining the future of our university at Virginia Tech, and continuing to implement a blueprint for higher education partnerships with the technology community.”

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The conference, held Oct.16-19 at the Hotel Roanoke & Convention Center in Roanoke, has previously taken place in Anchorage, Alaska, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Speakers included Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, who described what he called the spirit of Virginia Tech ("when it decides to do something, it moves on it – just like a startup would"), and Matt Erskine, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of commerce for economic development and chief operating officer of the Economic Development Administration.

Erskine echoed one of the summit’s major themes of encouraging collaboration between universities and external partners.

Written by Erica Corder

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