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More than beauty

Looking to the arts to boost the economy

My bank knows how to keep up with my business. HomeTown Bank does a great job of responding to my needs as a business owner. They’re always prepared for the fast-paced things that happen with my stores, and I really like knowing they’re locally owned. That means I know their people and important decisions can be made quickly — that’s something every business wants from their bank. Charlie Overstreet, Northwest Hardware

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Not just for art’s sake


The arts are playing a bigger role in attracting economic development and talent to the region. by Kathie Dickenson

INTERVIEW: Nicholas F. Taubman Taubman on the Taubman Philanthropist says museum bearing his family name “is going to be a great success.” by Sandra Brown Kelly



HEALTHCARE Buying into wellness Health-care providers offer perks and programs to keep employees, community healthy. by Rich Ellis


EDUCATION Learning by doing Architecture students build what they imagine. by Donna Alvis Banks

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Angels among us

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Investors can be the key to entrepreneurial success. by Michael Abraham



The business of art Local artists look for ways and places to display their work. by Betsy Biesenbach



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Healing through music and medicine Interview with Bukuru Celestin by Rebekah Manley

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The marriage of arts and business isn’t always easy


rt and industry have been entwined since hunter-gatherers depicted their hunts through drawings on cave walls. At least since the Renaissance, being a patron of the arts has been a way for the rich to show their wealth. And for at least that long, communities have displayed art as a sign of sophistication to attract visitors and new residents. The Roanoke and New River valleys can’t be counted alongside Paris and New York as centers of the art world, but they’re not exactly the Sahara of the Bozart, either. Many notable writers — including celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni, bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb, Pulitzer Prize winners Annie Dillard and Henry Taylor, and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey — have ties to the valleys. So does photographer Sally Mann. The late composer, writer and visual artist John Cage painted at Mountain Lake, visited Radford University, exhibited his watercolors at the Roanoke Museum of Fine Arts and performed his famous musical piece 4’33” at Center in the Square. An exhibit of his New River Watercolors opens at the Taubman Museum of Art this month. We have symphony, opera, theater and a ballet company willing to stage a performance dangling above downtown Roanoke. As artist Beth Deel said in the first issue of Roanoke Business, “People want to live in a city where other people are hanging off the sides of buildings. That’s just true.” Cage said his art wasn’t self-expression; it was self-alteration. Art can certainly alter the artists who make it, people who experience it and communities that embrace it. Blacksburg, for instance, is trying to change by creating an arts and culture district to encourage arts-related businesses. The town has even made life easier for buskers, giving them the right to perform downtown so long as they don’t impede traffic. But not all alterations are positive, and even positive alterations may cause turmoil. The Taubman Museum of Art may be the largest, flashiest alteration the valleys have ever seen in the name of art. Rather than move the Art Museum of Western Virginia into a renovated furniture store at a cost of $20 million, the museum’s board decided to spend an additional $26 million to build a new home that would be a work of art in itself.That estimate, though, was $20 million too low. The final price tag was about $66 million. An annual budget that tops $3 million has proved to be too much for the museum to support, and it is retrenching, with a new board and a new director. The board named Della S. Watkins, a longtime member of the management team at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, to the position, and she starts on Feb. 4. While the Taubman seeks funds, other regional art organizations also have struggled financially. Slower-than-predicted fundraising means Center in the Square is reopening this spring, roughly a year later than originally planned. The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge shut down in December. In public comments, the arts community blames more than the Taubman for its troubles. The Taubman has brought attention to Roanoke, often from travel writers who seemed surprised to find such a large museum in a community not always treated kindly by writers for big-city publications. But the Taubman was also mentioned in a New York Times article headlined, “For Arts Institutions,Thinking Big Can Be Suicidal.” When supporters with deep pockets rescued the museum last fall, Judith Dobrzynski – a former culture reporter, business reporter and business editor at The New York Times – lamented the museum’s troubles on her blog: “When will communities take seriously all these cautionary tales of overreaching?” It will be years before anyone can fairly judge whether the Taubman was an overreach or a bold project that began during hard times. Still, the Taubman experience makes it clear that the business of art, like any other business, offers at least as many risks as opportunities.





President & Publisher Roanoke Business Editor Contributing Writers

Bernard A. Niemeier Tim Thornton Michael Abraham Donna Alvis Banks Betsy Biesenbach Kathie Dickenson Rich Ellis Sandra Brown Kelly Rebekah Manley

Art Director Contributing Photographers

Adrienne R. Watson Sam Dean Alisa Moody

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on the cover Taubman Museum of Art Roanoke Photo courtesy Taubman Museum of Art

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Not just for art’s sake The arts are playing a bigger role in attracting economic development and talent to the region

by Kathie Dickenson



Photo courtesy the Taubman Museum of Art

Last fall the Taubman Museum of Art received an injection of funds and loan forgiveness from founding donors that cleared its debts and allows it to operate with free admission.



cover story Center in the Square will show off a $27 million renovation when it opens again this spring.


or more than a century, big manufacturing centers brought jobs and economic development to America’s cities. Today the arts, with their focus on creative thinking and power to breathe new life into urban districts, are becoming a driving engine for economic growth. Consider the renovation and expansion of Roanoke’s Center in the Square. The $27 million makeover now under way created 200 jobs last year at a time when new jobs were hard to come by. Not far away in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech is building a $97 million performing arts complex that’s expected to host as many as 150 events a year and generate $2 million in spending. Even Pulaski, long known as an industrial town, has refurbished an old theater, built a new museum and is looking to the arts as a way to draw more business and tourists. Planners, economic developers and arts leaders in the Roanoke and New River valleys say art can alter communities and not just in terms of dollars. 8


A city with a cultural soul helps attract the creative workers a modern economy requires. So leaders are quick to promote the region’s arts and cultural amenities. They don’t have to look far for evidence of a growing national trend as cities look to museums, downtown arts festivals and other cultural amenities to boost their coffers and their civic pride. The Star City A 2010 report by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission estimated that each year arts and cultural events in the city of Roanoke generate nearly $8.2 million in new sales activity, bring $4.8 million in new wealth into the city, support more than 100 employees and increase state and local tax revenues by about $495,187. The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra purchased about 1,000 hotel nights for musicians during its 2011-12 season and contributed $22,000 in admissions taxes to the city of Roanoke, according to Beth Pline, RSO’s executive director. Now in its 59th year, the symphony will soon move its offices — though not its performances — from the Jefferson Center to Rendering courtesy Center in the Square

cover story space in the old Shenandoah Hotel, where it will become a partner organization with Center in the Square. “We will have a storefront presence near the market where people can identify with the symphony,” says Pline. If ever an arts endeavor has led to economic development, Center in the Square would be exhibit No. 1. Currently in the midst of a multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation, the Center has had a transformative effect on downtown Roanoke. Since it opened in December 1983, it has drawn artists, farmers, tourists and local residents to a market-square environment where people can buy a bar of handmade soap, take in a concert and grab a meal, all within a walkable space. Already home to four museums and to theater, opera, symphony and ballet organizations, the renovation of 200,000 square feet ― including a roof addition ― promises to boost foot traffic with new attractions such as a butterfly habitat and a 5,500-gallon, living coral-reef aquarium. The project, which began in summer 2011 and will hold grand opening celebrations in late spring, created 200 construction and professional jobs “at a time when the economy was at or near its lowest point,” says Jim Sears, the center’s president and general manager. Using local suppliers for materials, “we spent approximately $30 million in two years and three months; $20 million of that was new to this community.” Sears, a Roanoke-area native, credits Center in the Square’s 1983 opening with the start of a downtown renaissance. When he left Roanoke in the late 1970s, “The market area was in shambles. Farmers were leaving. The inner structure of Roanoke was deteriorating because the retail business was moving out to shopping centers. Then the arts took over and, quite honestly, they Photo courtesy The Jefferson Center

have been the only real stimulus for downtown construction and job creation that Roanoke has had for many years.” Before it closed for renovations, the center was drawing about 650,000 people a year with an estimated economic impact of $18 million to $20 million, according to Sears. The Jefferson Center, another downtown arts anchor, also is hav-

populate the Center’s Music Lab and interact with visiting artists in their schools. “When you teach kids music,” says Locke, “and you teach them to honor their voice and have that confidence in themselves to step up to the microphone and say what they want to say, you teach them to be the next leaders of our community and of our society.” Since its 2008 opening, the

Cyrus Pace heads the Jefferson Center, a high school turned arts center that contributes to the arts’ influence on Roanoke’s economy.

ing a positive economic impact. It collected $21,140 in food, beverage and admissions tax revenue for the city in fiscal 2012, says Cyrus Pace, the Jefferson Center Foundation’s executive director. Catering and housing expenditures for local artists included about 90 room nights at local hotels, $1.9 million in goods ― purchased from local merchants and vendors whenever possible ― and local taxes paid on a total utilities expenditure of $138,881. When it comes to economic growth, what most interests Jefferson Center artistic director Dylan Locke is the long-term benefit to the community, especially through the city youth who

Taubman Museum of Art — the region’s largest art museum ― has struggled financially in a very public way. Last fall the museum received an injection of funds and loan forgiveness from founding donors that cleared its debts and allows it to operate with free admission. Since then, visitor numbers have risen about 30 percent, according to Taubman CFO and interim Director Kathryn Garvin (New executive director Della S. Watkins, who was named in January, begins this month.) Museum membership also is up, from about 2,500 households to more than 3,000 by the end of November. The facility’s space rental program, says Garvin, attracts outROANOKE BUSINESS


cover story A children’s theater is one of many arts-related activities held at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.

of-town groups. For example, the Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference, held at the Hotel Roanoke in November, rented museum space for a cocktail event, and the museum opened its galleries. During the past four years Taubman staff members have developed educational programs for children, created partnerships with Virginia Tech, Hollins University, Virginia Western Community College and Roanoke Valley schools and collaborated with the Southwest Virginia Ballet and the Roanoke Children’s Theatre, which the museum houses. Garvin says the Taubman is “not just a repository for beautiful works of art.” It’s meant to be a place where people can participate — in workshops, in cinema, in exhibitions — and through their participation come away with what Garvin hopes will be “a new view. It may just be one little element of their thinking process, but it changes them in a way.” As part of the city’s quality of life, the arts represent a vital tool for recruiting business, says 10


Rob Ledger, Roanoke’s economic development manager. For more and more companies, he says, the arts are “a factor they treasure as much as electricity or any other factor.” Do companies want to put their employees in a place with no creativity, he asks, or do they want a place that is vibrant and diverse that can attract top management? Andrea Henson, Carilion Clinic’s manager of professional recruitment, says the arts definitely come into play while recruiting. “In attracting physicians and their families to the area, [the arts] are an important part of our discussions in helping them understand what the region has to offer. Roanoke may be a smaller size city, but it has a tremendous variety of arts and cultural offerings. During community tours, a lot of time is spent explaining and showing what is available.” Since technology allows so many workers to live anywhere, Ledger notes, “A newer generation is proving to themselves that they can pick the lifestyle they want first, then the career. And

who wouldn’t want to be in a place where you can have a symphony, a civic center, a 15-minute commute, where you can hop on your bike and get on the greenway, take a hike on the Appalachian Trail or the Blue Ridge Parkway? You can have that here.” Pulaski Pulaski was once a tourist destination, where people came by train for “the cure” at two local mineral springs and stayed in the luxurious Maple Shade Inn, according to the town’s economic development director, John White. A Pulaski native, White says the town has long emphasized the arts. For example, in the 1920s Mayor E.W. Calfee placed an ad in the New York Times headlined, “Town Needs Band Leader.” A.U. Fine, a recent Russian émigré, answered the ad and made Pulaski his new home. “Maestro Fine created musicians,” says White. “He trained all sorts of people in orchestral instruments and, up until the beginning of World War II, there were performances downtown in the gazebo.” It was industry, though, that undergirded the town’s economy. While tourists danced in Maple Shade Inn’s ballroom, foundries puffed in the background. When the foundries shut down in the early 1920s, town fathers “went looking for the next wave,” says White, and for a while “furniture and sock making were king.” But the king moved offshore and, according to White, took about 2,400 jobs with him. He is convinced that arts and culture are part of Pulaski’s next wave. Pulaski Theatre, rescued and restored over the past two decades by Friends of Pulaski Theatre, shows movies and hosts a steady schedule of live performances. Construction is nearly complete on a transportation museum named in honor of former Mayor Raymond Ratcliffe. Historic aerial photographs of the Photo courtesy Taubman Museum of Art

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cover story The new Virginia Tech Center for the Arts will offer a 1,260-seat performance hall.

town by David Kent will be displayed there. Another permanent exhibit is a replica of Pulaski as it stood in 1955 and a mural depicting the surrounding countryside. Local railroad enthusiasts Milton Brockmeyer and C.P. Huff and artist Willy Ryan built the model in Brockmeyer’s basement. Ryan painted the mural. The Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley, long established on Main Street in the city’s downtown Historic Landmark District, is in the midst of a fund drive to restore the Rutherford Building, a former car dealership, as its new home. The Fine Arts Center’s permanent collection includes a painting by Richard Sargent and works by well-known regional artists such as Lyndall Mason, Vance Miller, David Kent and Eric Fitzpatrick. The center will host exhibi12


tions and provide classes and other experiences for adults and youth. These downtown venues will, in White’s vision, work in concert with the area’s natural beauty and the interconnectedness among the New River Valley’s communities for the benefit of the entire region. “My vision of Pulaski,” he says, “is as a welcoming place where people would enjoy living and where tourists would like to stop and visit, whether you’re a tourist from Blacksburg, over here to attend a performance at the theater, or a tourist from Kalamazoo.” Blacksburg The community that re-created itself in the early 1990s as the Electronic Village is working now to create an Arts and Cultural District. In December, the Blacksburg Town Council approved two ordinances

that will create a district in which the town can provide incentives for arts uses and establish a Live/Work/Sell zoning district, where artists will be allowed to sell art from home studios. Under construction now in what will be the arts district is the $97 million, 150,000-squarefoot Virginia Tech Center for the Arts. Located at the corner of Main Street and Alumni Mall, the complex is scheduled to open in the fall. The center’s involvement in community arts began before ground was broken for the facility. With offices in Kent Square, a downtown retail/office/residential building, the center collaborates with the Lyric Theatre on a performing artist series and helps sponsor campus events, such as a tribute to Toni Morrison that brought celebrated writers and performers to Blacks-

burg last October. The new building will offer a 1,260-seat performance hall, two visual arts galleries ― supporting digital, live and performance art as well as traditional works ― and a 3,000-square-foot Collaborative Performance Lab. It will serve as home to the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT), one of seven research institutes at Virginia Tech. Each year the Center for the Arts plans to host 120-150 programs and events involving 85,000100,000 people and generating, by one estimate, more than $2 million in spending. Ruth Waalkes, the center’s director, says that type of economic impact is “only one measure … We know that the value of the arts is much deeper — cultural community building, social engagement, better education, more appealing draw for employers, retirees and young professionals.” ICAT represents perhaps the most potential for long-term, tangible economic development impact. It brings together faculty and researchers from multiple disciplines, Virginia Tech students, K-12 students and members of the public to integrate art, design, engineering, technology and science. Programs with a similar focus at MIT, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon have fostered successful spin-off companies — 97 from MIT’s Media Lab alone. So far ICAT has atPhoto courtesy Virginia Tech

cover story tracted five research grants, including three from the National Science Foundation, totaling nearly $1.2 million, and is awaiting decisions on two other grants that would add nearly $1.9 million. Today’s businesses, says ICAT Director Benjamin Knapp, require employees who can work across disciplines in creative teams. ICAT collaborates with Blacksburg companies Techpad and Cooperatory to facilitate a community of freelancers and entrepreneurs, many of them students with startup software development companies, who can share expertise and talent. Providing what Knapp calls “the longer tail of economic development,” ICAT also works with K-12 students on site and in schools. In a weeklong summer workshop on campus, 32 middle school girls and boys worked in teams creating musical instruments. They conceptualized and designed the instruments, built them and used CAD to print a component of the instruments in 3-D. Then they routed electronics from sensors through a computer — which mapped the information back to the sensors inside the instruments to make sound — and held a performance. Knapp says the process, beginning with an aesthetic and ending with an aesthetic, mirrors development of products from cars to computer games. It’s also an example of art informing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), he adds, and of developing students capable of working in today’s business environment. Art is no longer a matter of “artists talking to other artists,” says Knapp. The process used in creating art is a model for everything from product development to problem solving. Art, notes Knapp, “has become a critical component of doing business.”

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Nicholas F. Taubman, Businessman, Ambassador, Philanthropist

Taubman on the Taubman Philanthropist says museum bearing his family name ‘is going to be a great success’

Nick and Jenny Taubman helped the Taubman Museum of Art get started. Now they’ve stepped in to help save it.

by Sandra Brown Kelly


ick and Jenny Taubman were the main muscle behind the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, which opened in late 2008. By October 2012, however, the museum’s financial woes had it near closing when Taubman, along with Medical Facilities of America Chairman Heywood Fralin and a group of supporters, stepped up to lead its resurrection. Only two members of the old museum board remain, and Jenny Taubman ― who had resigned from the board ― has returned. The Taubmans and Fralin are the largest donors to the project. The Taubmans have given more than $30 million while Fralin, as head of the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust, paid millions toward the American collection at the museum. Other board members made loans to the museum to help pay off its construction debt. “I don’t know of a place I’d rather invest,” says Nick Taubman. “I hope people appreciate the life we live today in the Roanoke



Valley. It’s a lot better than when I grew up. We have excellent cultural places, including Center in the Square, Jefferson Center and the Virginia Museum of Transportation.” If anyone can lead the museum to stability, it will be Taubman. He is a lifelong resident of the Roanoke Valley with considerable credentials in the worlds of business, art, history and politics. Taubman, 77, is a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania. He led Advance Auto Parts — founded by his late father, Arthur Taubman — as president and chairman before retiring in 2005. He then served as U.S. ambassador to Romania (2005-2008) where he received the Star of Romania (Steua Romania), Mare Cruce Class, the highest Romanian civilian award. And, he has always kept his home area in mind. While serving as ambassador, Taubman got U.S. Embassy Street in Bucharest renamed in honor of Liviu Librescu, a Holo-

caust survivor who became an engineering professor at Virginia Tech. During the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, Librescu died while blocking a classroom door so students could escape a student shooter who killed 32 students and teachers before killing himself. Taubman’s local community involvement has included the Roanoke Jaycees, Central YMCA, Blue Ridge Mountain Council-Boy Scouts of America, Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Hollins University. These days, Taubman serves as a director of the Alliance Tire & Rubber Co. in Hadera, Israel, a company founded in 1953 by his father and then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of Israel. Taubman also is president of Mozart Investments of Roanoke, a family investment company, and works on the boards of various cultural groups. On Jan. 1, he became chairman of the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Photo by Sam Dean

He also serves as a managing director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Previously, Taubman served on the Board of Regents of Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pa., and as trustee of the Virginia Historical Society. He is a major collector of items associated with George Washington, whom he considers “the most important person in the history of our country.” He owns a briefcase in which Washington carried the Declaration of Independence, a miniature of Washington that Martha Washington commissioned John Ramage to paint, a map used at the Battle of Yorktown and a painting of Washington at Yorktown by Charles Willson Peale. The painting was previously in the family of Comte de Rochambeau, whose French troops helped Washington’s Continental Army defeat the British at Yorktown.The painting hangs in Taubman’s Roanoke office, but the map and miniature are on exhibit at Mount Vernon. Last fall, when Taubman and other supporters took over the Taubman Museum, board, their first step was to stabilize it by providing $1.5 million for operating expenses for the remainder of the year. Advance Auto gave $150,000 to offset the entrance fees for a year, allowing the museum to offer free admission. “The museum needed help, and we decided it was worth saving. We decided it needed to be here 50 years from now,”Taubman said during an interview with Roanoke Business in late November. RoanokeBusiness: What is your role as leader of the recovery group? Taubman: My primary job is to help find and present to the board an executive director. Will we stay involved? Yes. A new person needs support. That person needs someone to listen to and to present the person to the community. We still have a lot to do. Editor’s note: Last month, the board hired Della S. Watkins, chief educator at the Virginia

Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. She assumes her new position on Feb. 4. RB: One of the first changes made when the new group took over was to make Taubman a free museum. How did that affect attendance? Taubman: It was an important change to make it a free museum because museums should be free. One thing that bothered us, however, was what would happen to the membership since part of becoming a member was free access to the museum. Membership accounted for $750,000 a year. The day after we announced it was going to be free, we had a line of people who wanted to become members. RB: What are other signs that the free museum was the way to go? Taubman: We are up in admissions by 30 percent on average, across the board. The average stay at Art Venture [an exploratory gallery with 13 hands-on stations for youth and families] is two and a half hours. We have moved our lectures to the auditorium to accommodate increased attendance. Lectures were held in the boardroom, which can accommodate 60, but when Kevin Concannon, director of the School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech, spoke on art history research, the room was filled. RB: You have said before that the museum will not succeed unless it gets community support. Are you optimistic the support will come? Taubman: The community knows when they want to support something. I think this museum is going to be a great success. RB: You said the first order of business was to find a new director, and the museum chose Della Watkins. What won her the job? Taubman: We have known Ms. Della Watkins and her per-

formance at the VMFA for some years through VMFA directors from Roanoke. We approached Ms. Watkins through the good offices of Director Alex Nyerges of the VMFA with his guidance and endorsement of Ms. Watkins. Fifteen years of experience at the VMFA and a deep knowledge of art education is only part of her qualifications. She is a native Virginian from Tappahanock and understands this region as she has been very involved in art education in Roanoke and western Virginia as part of the VMfA education outreach. She has been chief educator at the VMFA for a number of years in charge of 17 employees and 150 volunteers. The TMA will be much strengthend by Ms. Watkins ability to reach back to the Richmond museum and her exhaustive knowledge of that place and its long time success. RB: Your attachment to a museum in Roanoke goes much further back than the Taubman, right? Taubman: My mother and father, Arthur and Grace Taubman, were among the founders of the original museum in South Roanoke, on Carolina Avenue. It was called The Art Center. Then it moved to Cherry Hill, [in the western part of the city near its border with Salem] … and it wasn’t a Roanoke museum. That continued to bother everybody. Jenny got involved as a docent when the museum was at Cherry Hill. Then Jenny was asked to chair the Capital Campaign in 2002 to build a freestanding art museum outside of Center in the Square … [At that time, the museum was housed in Center in the Square when the opportunity arose to move into the former Grand Piano Furniture store on Campbell Avenue. The estimate for renovation of that building so it could house artwork came in at $20 million, and supporters decided a new stand-alone museum was a better decision. Roanoke City gave $4 million and the land toward the project.]

RB: What were some of the factors that contributed to the Taubman Museum’s troubles? Taubman: We couldn’t anticipate some of the influences that drove up the price of the museum. With Hurricane Katrina, the prices of materials like fiberboard went up. The museum cost more than we anticipated, maybe twice as much, right at $70 million. RB: What do you envision the museum to be? Taubman: It has to be a lot of things. It can’t be just a 19thcentury Hudson Valley museum. The visioning process has to come from the new executive director. If the strategy for the museum is to make it a cultural center, it will need financial viability and excellent leadership, a strong development person and a new executive director. Kathryn Garvin, the interim director, has been doing a marvelous job. RB: Will you appeal to the state for support? Taubman: We’ll take support wherever we can get it. The museum can’t depend on Heywood and me to continue to put money into it. We are mortal. We will always appeal to the state. We’re also talking to federal legislators. Ms. Watkins has a long term relationship with many members of the Virginia legislature due to presentations to them as a senior member of the VMFA. We are always searching for new funding sources. RB: Is the museum good for economic development in this area? Taubman: Ask Nancy Agee [president and CEO of Carilion Clinic and a board member] what the museum means for Carilion in recruiting physicians. These professionals want their children to have access to the arts. Art raises you up above ― takes you from literate to cultural.




Karen Dillon, left, and Amy Moore are two Carilion employees who take fitness seriously, using their lunch break to run on the Roanoke River greenway.



Photo by Sam Dean

Buying into wellness Health-care providers offer perks and programs to keep employees, community healthy by Rich Ellis


f leading by example starts at the top, then the Roanoke Valley’s largest health-care providers have clearly embraced wellness as the key to health. Physicians would rather help people stay well, instead of treating the sick, and health systems are backing that effort with everything

from walking programs to health coaches and financial incentives. For example, if you’re a Carilion Clinic employee and make a healthy decision not to smoke, you’re going to benefit financially. Each pay period, Carilion puts an extra $25 in the checks of employees who are tobacco-free

and adds another $10 for those completing a health assessment. That’s just one example of a number of innovative programs that encourage employees to take an active interest in their own wellbeing. Another is Carilion’s Step By Step walking initiative. It helps ROANOKE BUSINESS


health care Carilion’s Michele Hamilton says the clinic’s Step by Step program helped employees walk off weight.

employees focus on taking the recommended 10,000 steps per day, says Michele Hamilton, Carilion’s employee wellness consultant. Carilion’s CEO Nancy Agee kicked off the program by delivering pedometers and a message of support to the management team. They, in turn, gave pedometers to every Carilion employee, encouraging them to get on board with the initiative. “The Step by Step walking campaign began the first week of May and ran for 12 weeks,” Hamilton says. “It was a huge initiative that was well received.” To help keep employees interested, Hamilton published a blog about the campaign. Employees would contact her to let her know about the weight they had lost.



Many didn’t realize how little they were exercising before getting the pedometers. More pounds soon might be shed as a result of a new “Choose Wisely” campaign at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital’s cafeteria. To emphasize healthy eating options, one food item — such as a particular fruit – is designated as a healthy option each month. Customers purchasing that item have their receipts stamped and then are eligible for a drawing for a free meal. Fridays at the cafeteria have been designated “Fryless Fridays,” with items that would traditionally have been fried, such as chicken or french fries, being baked instead. The cafeteria also is experimenting with “Meatless Monday” where one

food station offers meatless options. Carilion’s vending machines also are helping people make better food choices. They offer two sections of designated “healthy options” such as water and diet soda instead of soft drinks and its higher sugar content. The future could bring tiered pricing under which these healthier choices would cost less than other vending items. At LewisGale Regional Health System, R.J. Redstrom, vice president of human resources, says doing the right things are as important as promoting a healthy work force. Accomplishing that goal, however, is often easier said than done. “The two biggest obstacles [to participation in a wellness program] are people’s willingness to do something about their health and the financial cost,” Redstrom explains. To remove the financial obstacle, LewisGale offers employees $400 for participating in an annual health screening, completing a lengthy health risk assessment questionnaire and following up with a health-care provider when risk factors are identified. That money is placed into an account for employees to use for health carerelated expenses. “Our goal is at least 80 percent participation,” says Redstrom, “and we’ve had that over the last two years.” To help further its wellness initiative, LewisGale utilizes resources from Health To You (H2U), a subsidiary of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) — LewisGale’s parent company. For more than three decades, H2U has been providing resources that help hospitals encourage and enable community members, employers and other or-

Photo by Sam Dean

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health care ganizations to take proactive steps toward better health. LewisGale continues to enhance the program’s offerings and recently began offering employees the services of health coaches who help employees develop a plan of action after a health screening. To encourage exercise, LewisGale also offers employees a discount on YMCA memberships. Redstrom says a focus on exercise and nutrition is important because they’re two major factors that people can control in improving their health. Exercise, he adds, isn’t limited to going to the gym. It also can include daily activities, such as raking leaves, walking, or gardening. “We try to get creative,” Redstrom says, “and we’ll continue to see new, creative ways in the future to keep our work force healthy.”

R.J. Redstrom says LewisGale has tried to lower the financial barriers to employee wellness.

This focus on wellness started with employees, but it doesn’t end there. Carilion and LewisGale provide wellness programs to area

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businesses and the community. LewisGale, for example, has worked with employers for many years, especially in the area of occupational medicine, says Carol Chappell, director of new business development for LewisGale. “The piece that’s evolved over the last 15 years and is really becoming very much a focus has been wellness in the work site,” she explains. Today, LewisGale’s Business Health Services works with about 150 employers throughout Southwest Virginia to provide screenings and educate workers about improving their health. Once they get results from the screenings, employees are assisted in developing healthy-living plans. Employers, Chappell says, love the program because it reduces absenteeism and emergency-room visits while increasing productivity. LewisGale also expects a growing demand for onsite wellness programs, in which a nurse practitioner is stationed at a company for a set number of hours per week. LewisGale is providing this service at four area companies and responding to a number of requests for the service. Carilion embraces the importance of helping communities stay well through a variety of programs including “Physicians on Foot.” A Carilion Clinic physician leads a walking group on a select Saturday, providing community members with an opportunity to ask questions and talk, and giving them a good reason to come out and exercise. Carilion also has created a speakers bureau through which the community can request an expert to come and provide education on a variety of health-related topics. Photo by Sam Dean

Highlights of the Arts Season Timeless: Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Future A School of Dance and Theatre Gala Performance Feb. 8, 8 p.m.; Feb. 9, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Pridemore Playhouse, Porterfield Hall Weather Report: A Photographic Series by Andrzej Maciejewski Through March 8 RU Art Museum at the Covington Center

Paradigm Shift: An Evening of Women’s Work School of Dance March 19, 7:30 p.m. Bondurant Auditorium, Preston Hall Annual Juried Fashion Show Department of Interior Design & Fashion March 30, 5 p.m. Bondurant Auditorium, Preston Hall

Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw April 18–20, 8 p.m.; April 21, 2 p.m. Pridemore Playhouse, Porterfield Hall RU International Guitar Festival April 5–7 Performance Hall at the Covington Center

STOMP! The renowned street rhythm group will be on campus in mid-February. Check the RU website for announcement of the date.


Learning by doing Architecture students build what they imagine on paper by Donna Alvis Banks


an you name the original five fine arts? Painting, sculpture, music, poetry … and? If architecture slips your mind, you’re not alone. Most people define architecture in brickand-mortar terms, forgetting what Frank Lloyd Wright said: “The mother art is architecture. Without architecture of our own, we have no soul of our own civilization.” Marie and Keith Zawistowski, a pair of architects who came to Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies in 2008, are doing what Wright might have prescribed, marrying beauty with building. The two “Professors of Practice,” a new title bestowed by the university, are teaching the next generation of architects to put nothing less than their souls into their chosen profession. Leading Tech’s “design/buildLAB,” a studio for third-year students, the young Zawistowskis (Keith is 34 and Marie is 32) bring experience beyond their years to Blacksburg. Keith Zawistowski, a New Jersey native and 2003 graduate of Tech’s architecture



program, met his French wife at Auburn University’s Rural Studio where they studied with the late Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee, who was known for emphasizing social responsibility in architectural practice. There, the Zawistowskis helped design and build a modern house from old carpet tiles for a family who had been living in a rural Alabama shanty. After working abroad in Paris and Ghana, as well as in several large U.S. cities, the couple landed at Virginia Tech where they created the design/buildLab, spawned from their experience at the Rural Studio. As a result, two public projects — a farmer’s market in Covington and an amphitheater in Clifton Forge — earned the university recognition with awards from the American Institute of Architects and WoodWorks and the National Wood Products Council. The design/ buildLab also recently received the inaugural design/build education award, a national award conferred by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. “We are the first generation teaching design/build who were educated in design/build,” Keith

Zawistowski explains. “While other professors are doing research and publishing, our contribution is considered our practice.” “We always want our students to deal with real-world issues because we believe they have the capacity to find solutions,” adds Marie Zawistowski. “You learn exponentially more by doing some-

The Masonic Amphitheatre in Clifton Forge is one of the projects that allow Virginia Tech’s design/buildLAB to learn by doing.

thing with a real purpose.” As vice mayor of Clifton Forge, Johnette Roberts witnessed the learning experience of 16 students last June. She presided over dedication ceremonies for the amphitheater, built at the site of Photo by Jeff Goldberg/Esto Photographics Inc.

a former tire-storage yard she called “a dump.” “The students put the last board in at 6 a.m. They stayed up all night to finish. They worked 10 to 12 hours a day, nonstop, and never complained.” “It’s all beautiful,” Roberts adds. “While it’s

a very modern-looking structure, it does fit very nicely into our landscape.” The design for the amphitheater — with its curving white oak lines and striking pastiche of metal tiles — represented a process involving individual creativity, group

collaboration and an appreciation of community. “We always say the process is as important as the final project,” Marie Zawistowski says, noting that early on her students spent time visiting Clifton Forge and interviewing townspeople. The ultimate



education Students aimed to build a Covington farmer’s market that would fit in and stand out.

goal, she emphasizes, was to make sure everyone had a vested interest in a “building that was not imposed on the community” with funding coming from grants and donations. “In the case of the amphitheater project,” adds Keith Zawistowski, “we put the students in vans and drove to Chicago to look at Millennium Park, the Pritzker Pavilion. They got a global, as well as a local, perspective.” In 2011, a group of students went through a similar process while designing and building the Covington Farmers Market. Cody Ellis of Richmond remembers the warning he got from Jacob Wright, who commissioned the project: “He said he didn’t want it to look like a spaceship landed in downtown Covington.” “We had the idea of wanting to fit in with the community but also to stand out,” Ellis says of the resulting 4,500-square-foot structure with its sculptural roof and ceiling of reclaimed heart-pine and galvanized sheet steel. Wright says the market is now a multifunctional facility for Covington, the struggling town he left 24


as a young adult for Richmond, Boston and Washington, D.C. When he returned to Covington to take over his family’s 250-year-old farm, he knew his hometown needed a catalyst for growth. The market, he believes, is that catalyst. “The building makes people know we’re here to stay. It gave a breath of fresh air to our downtown,” Wright says. “More people are ready to commit to investing in their gardens and farms. We’re now expanding some of the things we do at the market. Everybody in the community really loves it.” And his fear of finding a spaceship in downtown Covington? “You know,” he says, “I was surprised. I really didn’t hear anything negative.” When students draw their design proposals, the Zawistowskis expect some wild conceptions. “Yeah, sure,” Marie Zawistowski says. “They’re 20-year-olds. With 18 designs on the table, it makes for rich discussion.” That discussion, coupled with public input, eventually produces a final design. But the real learning comes when the students

build what they imagine on paper. “We set up a situation where they take ownership of it. We’re just here to catch them if they fall,” Keith Zawistowski says. After constructing pre-fabricated pieces in Blacksburg, the students transport them to the job sites where they live with townsfolk until building is completed. Taylor Terrill, a fourth-year student from Stafford County, worked on the Clifton Forge amphitheater. Although he waffled over taking the lab after seeing all the work his roommate Chris Cromer did on the farmer’s market a year earlier, he finally signed on. “We had no idea how much work we were getting into,” he says. “I learned that a cardboard model isn’t the same as the real thing.” Terrill, one of those who nailed the last board in place on June 23, calls it “the craziest all-nighter I ever pulled on a project.” Still, the experience has made an impact on him, one that may affect the way he pursues his career. “It was definitely worth the extra time,” he says. “I thought it turned out beautifully.” Photo by Jeff Goldberg/Esto Photographics Inc.

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Angels among us Investors can be the key to entrepreneurial success

Bob Summers says 460 Angels can offer startups something more valuable than money. by Michael Abraham


ob Summers, chairman of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council’s Access to Capital Committee, knows it’s not easy for a new company to raise cash. That’s especially true for technology companies in a rural area whose main asset is knowledge. That’s one of the reasons he helped launch Startup Blacksburg, an off-shoot of the national Startup America Partnership. His goal? To see 500 technology jobs in downtown Blacksburg within 10 years. The national partnership’s founding sponsors are the Case and Kauffman foundations. Ewing Kauffman was an entrepreneur whose Marion Laboratories made $1,000 profit its first year



and grew to an international company with nearly $1 billion in sales. Steve Case co-founded America Online. Startup America’s board includes Michael Dell of Dell computers; LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman; FedEx CEO Frederick Smith; and basketball star-turned-entrepreneur Magic Johnson. StartUp Blacksburg represents a community of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors. “It is the culmination of all the things I’ve been working with,” Summers says. “I’m really proud of that. I’m proud of the people who have come together to raise their hands and say, ‘I want to help.’” Summers also organized the 460 Angels, named after a high-

way that runs through Blacksburg. It’s a group of 36 accredited investors — people with a net worth of more than $1 million — looking for companies that need $25,000 to $250,000. “Without an organized group,” Summers says, “an entrepreneur needs to court separate individual investors. With a group, they can do combined analyses and due diligence. It’s much more streamlined and efficient.” So far, the 460 Angels have helped four startups. Summers won’t say how much they’ve invested, but the group offers more than dollars. “It’s called smart money,” notes Summers, “money that comes with experience, knowledge, mentoring — things that may be more valuable than Photos by Alisa Moody

the money itself. Some of these people have 20-plus years of operational experience.” Angel investors often are not the first source of cash fledgling businesses tap. Entrepreneurs sometimes draw from their savings, home equity lines or credit cards to get going. Federal programs such as the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovation Research program can help. For many entrepreneurs, the second source of cash is what Summers calls “friends, family and fools.” These folks may not expect a return on their investment, but entrepreneurs without particularly wealthy and indulgent relatives may need other investors. That’s where 460 Angels and similar investors come in. The step after that is venture capital, which brings more money and more investor involvement. Valley’s Ventures, funded by the Virginia Tech Foundation, Carilion Clinic and the Radford venture capital firm Third Security, announced in July that it would invest at least $15 million in companies within 100 miles of the Roanoke and New River valleys. Summers got his start with his own software startup company — he’s on his fifth startup now. In the early years, he found it difficult to raise capital. His competitors were better funded and able to capture opportunity faster than he was. So he returned to school to get his MBA at MIT studying first-stage capital. Then he networked with angel investment groups, returning to Blacksburg to start an angel group. Summers received a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering at Virginia Tech and has devoted his energies to the region because he appreciates the quality of life and the people. “Now, there is a great deal of

Ken Maready helps startup companies avoid early mistakes so those companies and his firm can benefit in the future.

help for startups and people who are looking to make the world a better place,” he says. “Five years ago, there were few resources. The resources and the number of interested people are growing. The momentum is on the way up.” One sign of that is Ken Maready. He’s a corporate and intellectual property attorney who came to Blacksburg from North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park four years ago to counsel entrepreneurs and technology companies in such areas as intellectual property issues and financing. “I get involved with tech companies, software companies, bio-tech companies and medical device companies,” says Maready. “We find ways to work in the early stages ... We help them along in the beginning to avoid mistakes that may cost them more later. When they be-

come thriving companies, we get compensated.” The region’s developing network of entrepreneurs and investors is focused on cooperation. “We’re a bit isolated here,” says Maready. “We don’t have a dominant corporate presence that other places have. We do have a bootstrapping culture, where a lot can be done with a little. Because of our isolation, there is a mentality that we really need to help each other. People have a loyalty here to the area and to Virginia Tech that they don’t have in other places.” That sense of community, says Summers, is a plus. “It is going to take a community to get us there. It takes a community of leaders. It takes a community of people who have capital. It takes a community of people who believe in the area.” ROANOKE BUSINESS



The business of art Local artists look for ways and places to display their work by Betsy Biesenbach



Photo by Alissa Moody


Suzun Hughes, an artist, is co-owner of Wilson Hughes Gallery in Roanoke.


oanoke’s Art by Night gallery tour is a good way to view a wide variety of local art at one time. The tour features 10 downtown galleries, which open from 5 to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. For the artists involved, “it’s one of the more effective ways of reaching people,” says Suzun Hughes. Hughes and her husband, John Wilson, own Wilson Hughes Gallery on Campbell Avenue. “A lot of people who haven’t been in our gallery before come for Art by Night.” The number of visitors depends on the time of the year and the weather, Hughes says. The average attendance is about 40, but as many as 200 people have taken the tour in one evening. Susan Egbert, an owner of the

Photo by Sam Dean

now-defunct Gallery 108 — which participated in Art By Night until it closed in December — says the Roanoke arts scene has grown in the 25 years she’s lived here. “There are a lot of artists,” she says, “and they want to display their work.” Hughes has been the coordinator of the event since 2007 and says it’s possible to see every gallery on the tour in one evening and to combine the tour with eating out, boosting the downtown economy. Working together benefits everyone, she says. “Not all galleries are the same. Every gallery has its own character. We’re not competing but trying to bring an awareness of the art to the greater population.” The two most common types of gallery operations are rentals and cooperatives. In a rental, explains Egbert, someone buys a building

and rents space, taking a 12 percent commission from each sale. This person is not necessarily an artist and acts as a landlord. In a cooperative, a group of artists buy or rent a building, taking turns handling day-to-day operations. In exchange for monthly membership fees, they get a reduced price on gallery space. Other artists’ work is taken in on commission. “Sixty-forty [percent] is pretty standard,” says John McEnhill, executive director of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd. “Most galleries depend pretty heavily on volunteers,” he adds. In fact, McEnhill donates his salary and more back to the organization. “It’s more important for me to support the center,” he said. “I’ve got volunteer DNA in my blood. It’s a labor of love.” “It’s the only way to do it — not having to pay someone to ROANOKE BUSINESS


lifestyles come in and run the gallery,� Egbert says. She became the de-facto managing partner of Gallery 108 because “the last 10 years I was on the lease, and I was physically there the most.� But not every member was able to help, so she and her partners decided to quit when they no longer had time to work on their own art. She is now based at Studios on the Square on Campbell Avenue. “Nobody wants to run a business,� agrees Nancy Stellhorn, past president of the Roanoke League of Artists. Yet some artists continue to take on the responsibilities of business ownership so long as it provides an outlet for sales of their work. “We’re here to sell our artwork,� says Hughes. “We are a business with expenses.� Hughes and her husband own their gallery building and exhibit only their own work, which includes paintings, photography, sculpture

John McEnhill, executive director of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts, calls his job a labor of love.



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and custom-designed furniture. To support his art business, Brian Hart bought a small frame shop in Boones Mill. Brian J. Hart Gallery and Custom Frame Shop offers prints of his pen-and-ink drawings of college and university scenes — which have a nationwide following — as well as his watercolors. They are shown alongside the frame samples. Despite the relatively high profile of Art By Night, Hughes says she recently met a couple who owned a condo five blocks from her studio who hadn’t heard of the event. Generating publicity for out-of-town art galleries is even more difficult. Many of the counties surrounding Roanoke are teeming with artists, and each has several retail galleries. “Floyd County arguably has the greatest number of artists of any county in Virginia,� says McEnhill. The regional arts center in Floyd also operates Jax Galleria, a retail gallery in downtown Floyd. While the Jacksonville Center — which is on state Route 8, one half-mile south of the intersection with U.S. 221 — has several galleries, they are mostly dedicated to exhibitions, says McEnhill. The Galleria also gives the center a presence in downtown Floyd, he adds. The large number of artists in the area “has a lot to do with our scenery,� Egbert says. “Once word gets out, it encourages more of them to come.� For the past 34 years, the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge maintained a listing of art galleries in the region, but it closed in December, due to lack of funding. The Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors’ Bureau will take over some of its functions, but art buyers who want to check out local galleries should be prepared to do their homework. Because of the poor economy and the decreasing use of print media, “we’re all in the process of revisiting everything,� McEnhill says. “Everybody’s shifting online.� Photo by Alisa Moody

Bukuru Celestin, student, Jefferson Center’s Music Lab


Healing through music and medicine Interview with Bukuru Celestin

by Rebekah Manley


frobeat musician Bukuru Celestin wants to heal people — physically as a doctor and emotionally with music. He graduated from Patrick Henry High School in 2011, is on the pre-med track at Virginia Western Community College and continues collaboration with the Music Lab at the Jefferson Center. “Many people have told me I can’t do it, both music and medicine,” says Celestin. “I am going to try.” This 20-year-old refugee from Burundi is no stranger to obstacles. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services assigned his family to Roanoke in 2007. Celestin says, “We actually didn’t know which part of the U.S that we were going to live

in until a week before [we] left.” His family came to the States to pursue education ― unaffordable in Africa. He didn’t speak a word of English when he arrived. “I remember learning to say ‘yo-yo,’ ” Celestin says. He laughs when he tells the story of a coach giving him a football when he thought he was signing up for soccer. “I took it home and brought it back the next morning and said, ‘I am sorry. I really don’t know what to do with this.’ ” Ultimately, sports, clubs and the Music Lab helped Bukuru acclimate. Dylan Locke, artistic director at the Jefferson Center, explains that the Music Lab “is designed

Roanoke Business: We know you perform Afrobeat and gospel.What other types of music do you like to play? Celestin: I love the reggae so much, but country music, too. If you listen closely to the voices and to what I am singing, they are kind of similar. I work in security at Wal-Mart so that’s the best time to listen to country. RB: With gospel as one of your genres in mind, how do you feel like your faith has influenced your life? Celestin: I believe in myself. And I believe as long as I put myself to whatever I want to do. I believe I can do it … It’s all God’s. RB: How is working with Snarky Puppy? Celestin: When I heard that they were here, I was just so happy that I couldn’t believe it …

Photo courtesy Brett Winter Lemon Photography

to give Roanoke youth transformational opportunities through music.” The idea is to help them achieve self-confidence and selfesteem while developing leadership qualities that will transfer to career development and other life experiences. Celestin credits the lab with teaching him how to record, to take chances and to believe in himself. “Bukuru has been deeply engaged in this experience at the Music Lab for several years now and has progressed noticeably into a talented and confident young man,” Locke says. When he performs, Celestin is usually backed up by his sisters Furaha, 16; Ephrasie, 14; and Elvanie,

When I figured out they were Americans, I wrote something really, really slow. And when they heard that they said, ‘We are not playing that. We’re changing it.’ So they changed it to exactly to what I wanted to play — ta-da! They are professionals … really good and really nice people, too. RB: Your native language is Kirundi, and you also speak French, Swahili and English. Do you see music as a language? Celestin: It’s a powerful language. You are telling people how you feel about something and what you believe. Also, it is something you can listen to over and over and over. It is not like a verbal language where you can listen to something once, and you don’t want to hear it again.

13, in vocals and dancing. “They are quick to understand and they give me ideas of what we should do when it comes to performances,” says Celestin. His twin, Zawadi, prefers to stay off the stage. Currently, Celestin is collaborating with Brooklyn-based jazz group Snarky Puppy in launching a CD. This project is exploring partnerships with Roanoke Refugee and Immigration Services, Roanoke Public Libraries, Roanoke City Public Schools and Montgomery-Floyd Public Libraries. Eight of Celestin’s 22 original songs will be on a fulllength CD, thanks to grants from Chamber Music America, Roanoke Arts Commission and the Foundation for Roanoke Valley.

RB: What are your goals? Celestin: I want to be able to … share my type of music, the Afrobeat, all over. I really want to help. Music can be the best way for me to do that. Because if I go to Asia or Africa where people need help, I believe music can be the best way to [raise money] and to help physically and emotionally. The way I see it, as a doctor you can help physically, but it’s not a usual thing for a doctor to help emotionally, but music can. RB: Do you have anything you want people to know? Celestin: I want people to know that I am really, really ready to go. I am taking the music to the next level. I want people to come over and see when it comes to performances. ROANOKE BUSINESS


Demographic data raises some concerns


f education are keys toBlacksburg economic to median age in the area, 46. Nearly every community Asheville is often held and diversity If you move from Asheville success, the Roanoke and New River valleys may in the valleys has a median age above 40. up as the place Roanoke Groceries will cost 13.053% More The outliers are Montgomery County and Radface some challenges. should aspire to be. The to the U.S. Census Bureau, the peo- ford. They, of course, are home to Virginia Tech According Housing cost 7.036 More other city on the Blue Ridge ple living in the region are whiter and older than will and Radford University, the valleys’ largest colleges. Parkway, Asheville got the Montgomery County’s median age is 26.2. Radford the nation and Virginia as a whole. Fewer residents Utilities will cost 17.091 More park’s headquarters and is is even younger, with a median age of 22.5. have college educations, too. Transportation Less such a tourist-popular Obviously, a lot of 0.613 people in those communities Whiletown, 63.4 percent of the people the Census will cost Bureau com- are working toward a degree, but many of them over the minor league ballcounted team in both the country and theHealth will cost 3.274 More monwealth (which plays in one of theare topnon-Hispanic whites, numbers for 25 already have them. More than a third of Radthe ballparks counties in the Roanoke region range from just ford’s residents have a college degree. More than 40 10 minor league of Montgomery County’s residents have debelow 80 percent ) to nearly percentto percent in the country, according to (Blacksburg If you move from 98 Roanoke Asheville grees. In Blacksburg, it’s nearly 70 percent. (Craig County). is called the Those, however, are the only communities The population is aging, too. The median age Groceries will cost 11.572% More in eiTourists. in the United States is 37.2. Virginia’s median age is ther valley with a college education rate above the In the lastatwo years, 37.5. Alleghany County has the highest state’s 34 percent. bit higher, Housing will cost 9.967 More Outside magazine and American Rivers called Utilities will cost More % with 16.720 median % over 65 % with 4-year % white (not Asheville one of America’s best % under 18 high school Location age Transportation will cost degree Hispanic) More river towns. An online poll diploma 3.625 has named Asheville Beer City Health will cost More 63.4 37.2 13.3 23.7 U.S. 85.3 10.627 27.9 for four years running. “Good Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research 37.5 12.5 22.9 86.6 34.0 63.4 Virginia Morning America” featured 46.0 20.6 20.9 Alleghany County 82.7 15.3 92.1 the city in a series on the most NA 5.0 8.3 Blacksburg 96.1 69.8 78.9 beautiful places in America. Section 1: Index Values American StyleBotetourt magazine National 21.8 County 89.5 93.8 Category44.8 (percent 17.0 Blacksburg Roanoke Asheville22.9 average named it the country’s weight) NA 18.7 21.3 Covingtontop 79.6 10.7 83.1 small city for art. Yoga Journal NA(100%) 12.2 23.1 88.3 Christiansburg Composite 95.2 92.690.4 101.6 33.1 100 included Asheville on its list of 44.8 16.6 21.5 Craig County 89.2 15 .0 97.8 "10 Fantastically Yoga-Friendly Grocery (13.31%) 90.4 91.6 102.2 100 44.3 18.2 21.5 Floyd County 79.2 19.3 94.0 Towns.” There are Franklin arguments to 44.6 18.3 20.4 County 81.1 17.6 87.3 Housing (29.27%) 93.8 91.3 100.4 100 be made that the 43.8 18.5 21.0 80.7 16.7 95.7 GilesRoanoke County and New River Valleys can Utilities (10.22%) 94.2 94.5 110.3 100 26.2 10.1 15.3 89.2 40.7 85.3 Montgomery County compete with Asheville in all NA 17.8 21.8 72.1 12.9 87.7 Pulaski sorts of ways. But there’s at Transportation (9.86%) 97.8 93.8 97.2 100 43.5 18.4 19.2 80.5 14.7 91.3 Pulaski County least one way the valleys beat Asheville hands down – cost 22.5 8.4 13.1 Radford 85.8 Health (4.23%) 100.8 94.188.3 104.1 36.0 100 of living. Everything, 38.7 14.3 21.8 81.5 22.4 80.2 Roanoke it seems, is cheaper here. And we have Miscellaneous (33.11%) 97.3 93.1 100.8 100 43.5 17.6 21.3 Roanoke County 90.4 32.8 88.0 yoga, too. Salem







Source: U.S. Census Bureau



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Tread Corporation Wells Fargo Woods Rogers Attorneys at Law Pepsi Bottling Group

Note: Chamber Champions are members who support the Roanoke Regional Chamber through year-round sponsorships in exchange for year-round recognition.

EVENT SPONSORS 123rd Annual Meeting of the Membership LewisGale Regional Health System First Citizens Bank Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore Appalachian Power Salem Printing Company xpedx

Business Before Hours Hunting Hills Country Club Froth

Member news & recognitions Jen K. Ward, owner and principal of Blue Filly Productions, a public relations, marketing and graphic design agency in Ward Roanoke, was awarded the PRSA Lin Chaff Creativity Gold Summit Award and the PRSA Silver Award for Public Relations at the 2012 PRSA Summit Awards. Blue Ridge PBS has received a national award for community engagement, thanks to its local programming and events connected to the 2011 PBS series, “Women, War and Peace.” The award comes from NETA, the National Educational and Telecommunications Association. Judges praised the station for its interview segments with former women refugees who are rebuilding their lives in Southwest Virginia, saying they “made for compelling and heart-rending stories of the brutal realities of war.” The women spoke openly, often for the first time in public, of having lived in and fled from armed conflicts in regions as varied as Bosnia, Burundi, Haiti and Somalia. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) has honored Warner Dalhouse with a 2012 Outstanding Service Award for “Excellence in Governance.” The award honors members of a VHHA member hospital or health system

governing bodies who have a history of making significant contributions to the health-care field, on both a state and local level, through Dalhouse commitment to service and leadership. Dalhouse served for 22 years on the Carilion Clinic’s board. He is the director emeritus of the clinic’s board and is chairman of the Carilion Foundation. He also played a crucial governance role in the formation of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute and continues to serve on its board of directors. Patients at Carilion Clinic’s Breast Care Center will soon have a new, specially designed treatment chair thanks to a group of cancer survivors, caregivers and loved ones. The group participated in the first annual Smith Mountain Lake Poker Run to raise money for the Carilion Foundation to benefit breast cancer patients. Dr. Mark Kilgus, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine for Carilion Clinic, has been awarded the Southern MediKilgus cal Association’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award for 2012. The award is given for outstanding contributions to the advancement of medical science.

The Center for Digital Government’s Digital Cities Survey has again named the City of Roanoke as a Top Digital City. Roanoke ranked second in the nation for 2012 among the cities in the 75,000 to 124,999 population category, and has the distinction of being a Top-10 Digital City for 12 consecutive years. The survey ranked Roanoke in first place in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008; fifth place in 2004; and second place in 2007. Roanoke had been ranked in eighth place from 2009 to 2011. The City of Roanoke’s Department of Public Works has won the 2012 Safe and Sustainable Snowfighting award from the Salt Institute for excellence in environmental consciousness and effective management in the storage of winter road salt. Only 145 local agencies in the United States and Canada received this recognition, including 23 new recipients. Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore has announced that Super Lawyers Business Edition has named 13 of the firm’s attorneys to its United States 2012 edition. They are: J. Rudy Austin, construction litigation; E. Scott Austin, criminal defense/white collar; G. Franklin Flippin, business/corporate; Gregory J. Haley, business litigation; Guy M. Harbert III, plaintiff defense/general; Paul G. Klockenbrink, employment and labor; K. Brett ROANOKE BUSINESS


SPONSORED CONTENT | Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce ployment, business and commercial, and franchise law; W. William Gust, general practice, taxation, trusts and estates; Gregory D. Habeeb, commercial litigation, general practice, products liabiliAustin, Rudy

Austin, Scott












Marston, construction litigation; Monica T. Monday, appellate; G. Michael Pace Jr., real estate; W. David Paxton, employment and labor; William R. Rakes, business litigation; J. Scott Sexton, business litigation; and Bruce C. Stockburger, business/corporate. Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore has announced that three of the firm’s attorneys have been named “2013 Roanoke Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers. The attorneys honored are: K. Brett Marston, Best Lawyers Roanoke Lawyer of the Year for construction law; G. Michael Pace Jr., Best Lawyers Roanoke Lawyer of the Year for real estate law; and William R. Rakes, Best Lawyers Roanoke Lawyer of the Year for banking and finance law. Seventeen attorneys at the law firm Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore have been named “Top Lawyers” for 2013 American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell to highlight the following “Top Rated Lawyers” in the November issue of The American Lawyer: J. Rudy Austin, litigation, construction law, insurance law; Thomas J. Bondurant, criminal law; Matthew W. Broughton, litigation, civil law; G. Franklin Flippin, business and commercial; Diane J. Geller, labor and em34 4












ty; Kevin W. Holt, commercial litigation; Todd A. Leeson, labor and employment; K. Brett Marston, construction law; S.D. Roberts Moore, litigation, professional liability, medical malpractice; G. Michael Pace Jr., business and commercial, zoning, planning and land use; W. David Paxton, labor and employment, commercial litigation; William R. Rakes, commercial litigation, business and commercial, appellate law; Anthony M. Russell, medical malpractice, personal injury, legal malpractice law; Bruce C. Stockburger, taxation, business and commercial, health-care law; and Charles L. Williams, environmental law. Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore has announced that 24 attorneys have been named Best Lawyers for 2013. They are: J. Rudy Austin, personal injury litigation; Thomas J. Bondurant Jr., corporate compliance law and criminal defense – white-collar; Matthew W. Broughton, personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, and product liability litigation – plaintiffs; David N. Cohan, copyright law and trademark law; Lewis A. Conner, corporate compliance law and corporate governance law; G. Franklin Flippin, banking and finance law, corporate law, financial

services regulation law, mergers and acquisitions law; W. William Gust, employee benefits (ERISA) law and tax law; Gregory J. Haley, commercial litigation, eminent domain and condemnation law, government relations practice, land use and zoning litigation, and municipal litigation; Guy M. Harbert III, insurance law; Kevin W. Holt, commercial litigation; Paul G. Klockenbrink, employment law – management, and labor and employment litigation; Todd A. Leeson, employment law – management, and labor and employment litigation; K. Brett Marston, construction law and construction litigation; Monica T. Monday, appellate practice; S.D. Roberts Moore, personal injury litigation – defendants, personal injury litigation – plaintiffs; G. Michael Pace Jr., banking and finance law, corporate law, land use and zoning law, land use and zoning litigation, real estate litigation, and real estate law; W. David Paxton, employment law – individuals and management, labor law – management, labor and employment litigation; William R. Rakes, antitrust law, appellate practice, banking and finance law, bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation, corporate law, financial services regulation law, banking and finance litigation, and mergers and acquisitions litigation; Anthony M. Russell, mass tort litigation/class actions – plaintiffs, medical malpractice law – plaintiffs, and personal injury litigation – plaintiffs; J. Scott Sexton, commercial litigation and oil and gas law; Bruce C. Stockburger, leveraged buyouts and private equity law, tax law, and trusts and estates; Charles L. Williams, Jr., environment law and environment litigation; Clark H. Worthy, real estate law; and Kathleen L. Wright, municipal litigation. Wendy Downey has been hired as the director of patient services for Downey Good Samaritan Pile Hospice in the New River Valley. The notfor-profit hospice organization has also announced the hiring of Dr. Chris Pile as part-time associate medical director. The law firm Johnson, Ayers & Matthews has been named one of the 2013 U.S. Top Ranked Law Firms. The list appears in Fortune magazine’s special 2013 Investor’s Guide, as well as in the January 2013 editions of Corporate Counsel and The American Lawyer. Compiled by Lex-

Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce | SPONSORED CONTENT isNexis Martindale-Hubbell, nominations are based on the percentage of attorneys in each firm that have achieved AV ratings. AV ratings are the highest level awarded by Martindale-Hubbell and reflect a combination of very high general ethical standards and legal ability. Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group has been awarded the assignment to serve as the exclusive leasing agent for Keagy Village Shopping Center in Roanoke County. TD Bank sold the center to a retail developer in Charlotte who grew up in Roanoke. Virginians have again weighed in on their opinion of the economy. The Roanoke College Institute for Policy and Opinion Research surveyed 651 Virginians about their financial situation, general business conditions now and in the future, their inclination for purchasing durable goods and their thoughts on prices in the near-term. The Virginia Index of Consumer Sentiment was 81 in November, down from February 2012 (the date of the last report), but significantly higher than a year ago. The current value is in line with the national number of 82.7. The law firm Spilman Thomas & Battle has announced that it was honored as a 2013 Go-to Law Firm for the Top 500 Companies by ALM, a publisher of multiple regional and national magazines tailored to the legal community. This is the fourth consecutive year the firm has been recognized as such. Spilman was named as a Go-to Law Firm by: Aetna for labor litigation; Allergan for intellectual property litigation; Caterpillar for contracts litigation; and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company for contracts litigation. Dennis R. Dean, the Stroobants Professor of Biotechnology and director of life sciences at Virginia Tech, has been named Fellow of Dean the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dean was selected for this honor by his peers for “his contributions to the fields of microbiology and bioinorganic chemistry involving the mechanisms of biological nitrogen fixation and the formation of biological iron-sulfur clusters,” according to the association.


Ron Gibbons, director of the Center for Infrastructure Based Safety Systems at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has been named a Fellow of the Illuminating En-

gineering Society of North America, based on his research related to transportation and lighting. Devita McCullough and Andrew (A.J.) Wilkersham are the first Rolls Royce Doctoral Fellows of Virginia Tech’s ColMcCullough lege of Engineering. This fellowship award supports outstanding Ph.D. students in pursuit of research and scholarship on topics of interest to Rolls-Royce and to Virginia Wickersham Tech. Carrie R. Norman has joined Virginia Tech as the communications manager for the Division of Administrative Services. Norman will be responsible for the planning and Norman execution of a cohesive communications program to emphasize and bring awareness to the achievements and news within these offices.


Kathey Porter, former coordinator of minority-womenowned business enterprises for the City of Savannah, Ga., has been named assistant director of purchasing for supplier diversity at Virginia Tech.

Tammy S. Spradlin has been named assistant director of internal audit at Virginia Tech. In her new position, she will be responsible for planning, conducting and overseeing a Spradlin variety of projects within the internal audit department.


Pavlos Vlachos, professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named the Robert E. Hord Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

Wells Fargo & Co. has announced that it has named Jonathan Richardson as regional vice president for its Western Mid-Atlantic Regional Commercial Bank- Richardson ing Office. In his new role, Richardson will be responsible for Wells Fargo’s commercial banking operations in Western Virginia and West Virginia, with offices in Roanoke and Charleston, W.Va. ROANOKE BUSINESS


SPONSORED CONTENT | Roanoke Regional Partnership Roanoke Region to host 2013 Bike Virginia Tour The Roanoke Region will host the 2013 Bike Virginia Tour, an annual event showcasing the area’s best cycling routes. The tour, scheduled for June 24-26 in the Roanoke Region, is expected to attract 1,600 cyclists. The second leg of the tour will be based at Botetourt County’s Greenfield Recreation Park. “The announcement is a clear affirmation of our region’s reputation as an outdoor recreation hub,” said Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “We look forward to building on our vibrant cycling scene by showing off our miles of road-biking routes up hills, through valleys and along forests and waterways.” “We are honored to welcome cyclists from around Virginia and the nation to the Roanoke Region,” said Stephen P. Clinton, chairman of the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors. “By hosting the Bike Virginia Tour, Botetourt County will be able to demonstrate its hospitality, history and scenery in a unique way. Beyond simply a boon for our tourism, this announcement affirms our region’s focus on outdoor-related activities as a way to enhance our quality of life and even create jobs.” Wayne Strickland, executive director of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, added, “It is through the collaborative efforts of our local governments and other organizations that we continue to see cycling grow in popularity among recreational and commuting cyclists.” The commission supports a number of bicyclefriendly initiatives, including RIDE Solutions and Bike Roanoke. Its staff has been instrumental in bringing Bike Virginia to the region. “Now, organizers of this major bike tour have recognized our region’s outdoor culture and bicycling accessibility, further reinforcing the economic benefits associated with our regional efforts.”

Roanoke named one of nation’s top digital city governments Roanoke is a Digital Cities Survey winner once again. California-based e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government and Digital Communities Program announced the top-ranked digital city governments in the 12th annual Digital Cities Survey in November. Roanoke finished second overall in the 75,000124,999 population category behind Ann Arbor, Mich. The survey ranked Roanoke in first place in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008; fifth place in 2004; and second place in 2007. Roanoke had been ranked in eighth place from 2009-2011. The latest ranking required cities to complete a 36 6


survey focused upon how the city’s technology initiatives were aligned with city council priorities. Top-ranked cities in the survey reduced overtime with new technology, embraced BYOD to reduce hardware costs, and developed an app that will keep track of what users are doing to reduce power and fuel consumption. The highest-ranking cities in the survey also showed that consolidating and enabling shared services created huge cost savings, and new citizen engagement tools increased citizen feedback and improved services.

The Weather Channel ranks Blue Ridge Marathon among world’s toughest Roanoke’s Blue Ridge Marathon earned a spot among the World’s 15 Toughest Marathons as ranked by The Weather Channel. The Blue Ridge Marathon features more than 7,200 feet of elevation change. The uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and endurance while the downhill sections are equally challenging. “It’s really hard to say what you’ll find, but we guarantee smiling, cheering fans to help you up your last major climb at mile 19,” race chair Pete Eshelman told The Weather Channel. The Blue Ridge Marathon finds itself on the list with marathons such as the Lake Tahoe Marathon, the Great Wall Marathon in China, the North Pole Marathon and the Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado. The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon is scheduled for April 20.

Roanoke Region’s cost advantages continue to grow Roanoke is the lowest-cost metro in Virginia and among the top 30 metros in the country when it comes to a low cost of living. Costs are around 11 percent lower than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s 3rd Quarter 2012 Cost of Living Index. The region was able to gain significant ground in its cost competitiveness. The index value is 4.7 points lower than this same period in 2011. The area’s competitive advantages seem to lie mainly in lower food, transportation, health care and housing costs. The region’s cost of living is lower than many competing Southern metro areas including Asheville, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Chattanooga, Tenn. Roanoke’s cost of living is among the lowest in the Southeast. “A lower cost structure has always been an advantage for those who live and conduct business in the Roanoke region,” said Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “We’re able to maintain that advantage and even gain ground on our competitors. It’s never been more critical than during these economic times.”

Maybe you’ve found nd yourself stuck in your search for a rewarding u need to upgrade your skills to advance in career. Maybe you your current job, or perhaps you want to explore an entirely new career. Maybe you u are a business manager who needs to find cost-effective ways ys to train your team to stay current.


AND G TO WO ET RK =PYNPUPH >LZ[LYUÂťZ>VYRMVYJL :VS\[PVUZ.YV\W develops programs and training by working hand-in-hand with employers. It provides students with the real-world skills they need. Businesses can contract Workforce Solutions to provide on-site training in the latest technology and software.Workforce Solutions can also help employers find the best workers for job openings. At Virginia Western, you really can .,;;/,9,.

Jim Stroup

Three ways to help you stay competitive If you run a business in Roanoke, large or small, you might be surprised at the ways Virginia Tech can bolster your chances of success.

development. Situated on the seventh Ă RRURIWKH5RDQRNH+LJKHU(GXFDWLRQ &HQWHU9LUJLQLD7HFKDOVRRÍżHUVFODVVrooms and conference rooms for rent.

High-quality training results in a more skilled, sophisticated, productive and creative workforce. Kay Dunkley (center) at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center can design a WUDLQLQJSURJUDPIRU\RXUVWDÍżWR take part in high quality professional

Technical assistance can boost your competitiveness in a challenging marketplace. Scott Weimer (left) of &RQWLQXLQJDQG3URIHVVLRQDO(GXFDWLRQDQGKLVSOXVPHPEHUVWDͿFDQ create a blueprint to connect you with faculty experts. Applied research can help you take the next step as an industry leader. John Provo (right) and his team of economic development specialists can design applied research projects that link the university’s assets with your needs.

For more information, please email Kay Dunkley at or call her at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center, 540.767.6100.


Roanoke Business- February  

February's cover story looks at how arts are playing a bigger role in attracting economic development to the Roanoke/Blacksburg/New River Va...

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