Frances Dowd and Elli Travis have been named economic development specialists in Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development.
They will work with communities, industries, and institutions to promote community development throughout the state.
Dowd has a background in economic and community development as well as in capacity building at the local and international levels. Originally from Fairfax, Virginia, she earned a bachelor's degree in environmental policy and planning and applied economic management from Virginia Tech in 2014. She received her master's degree in agricultural and applied economics from Virginia Tech in 2015.
As a student, Dowd traveled to the Bolivar province in western Ecuador to assess the use of sustainable agriculture.
Since joining the Office of Economic Development she has applied this experience to the town of Hillsville, working on plans to help businesses bring more healthy food to market. Dowd is also part of a team assessing the economic impact of The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail.
Like Dowd, Travis has a background in agricultural economics and community development. She also has experience coordinating federally funded development projects at the international level. Originally from Washington D.C., she earned a bachelor's degree from Indiana University in economics and Russian in 2010.
She received her master's degree in agricultural and applied economics from Virginia Tech in 2015 and is now a doctoral student studying extension, community education, and program evaluation in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
For her master’s research, Travis worked with farmers in Ecuador on their adoption of new practices. Since joining the Office of Economic Development she has applied this experience to a project in Montpelier, James Madison's home in Orange County, assessing the market for value-added agricultural enterprises. She is also part of a team working with the Virginia Department of Aviation on a plan to develop a globally competitive aerospace workforce across the commonwealth.
Written by Hannah Samlall, a senior from Warrenton, Virginia, majoring in communications