2019 Annual Report - Montgomery County, VA Economic Development

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& Christiansburg MONTGOMERY COUNT


Brian Hamilton, CEcD Economic Development Director hamiltonbt@montgomerycountyva.gov

Brenda Rigney, CEcD Project Manager, Existing Industry rigneybb@montgomerycountyva.gov

Ashlyn Shrewsbury, CEcD Project Manager, Marketing and Business Development shrewsburyaj@montgomerycountyva.gov

Rachel Cline Economic Development Assistant clinerf@montgomerycountyva.gov


To the Honorable Chair, Members of the Board of Supervisors, and the Citizens of Montgomery County:

The Montgomery County, VA, Department of Economic Development (MCDED) has prepared this annual report to showcase the organization’s activities and accomplishments during 2019. The report is also intended to be an economic development marketing tool for Montgomery County, and features the achievements of local companies, entrepreneurs, and other key allies.

The Department of Economic Development is dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Montgomery County – including the incorporated towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg – by encouraging positive economic growth that:

• CREATES meaningful career opportunities;

• EXPANDS the commercial tax base to support the delivery of vital public services; and

• PROTECTS our enviable quality of life

Our department accomplishes its mission through strategies that support the startup, retention, and expansion of businesses already in Montgomery County, as well as the attraction of new targeted industries to the community.


9 PROJECTS... The Department actively supported five company expansion projects where investment and jobs were added. The Department also supported four companies locating in Montgomery County.

$3.85 MILLION... Investment made or announced by projects supported by the Department exceeded $3.85 million.

80 JOBS... Companies assisted by the Department will create 80 new jobs.

74 BRE VISITS... The Department visited 53 local companies through its Business Retention & Expansion Program (BRE). Twelve of the companies required follow up support services, and overall the Department made 74 total visits.

19 PROSPECT VISITS... The Department generated 41 new prospect leads, responded to 32 requests for information, and participated in 19 prospect visits by new businesses.

109,000 SF... The Economic Development Authority leased 109,000 square-feet of space to two companies. The Department negotiated two new leases in 2014; both companies took occupancy in 2015, and were ongoing in 2019. The two leases are worth $3.6 million in remaining total revenues.

10,104 WEBSITE VISITS... YesMontgomeryVA.org was visited 10,104 times from over 49 countries around the world and from all 50 states. The Department sent out nine news releases via email marketing and social media that were viewed 5,239 times.

Montgomery County, Virginia Home of Virginia Tech and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg 3 2 2019 Annual Report | Montgomery County Economic Development Department


#1 Top State for Higher Education, SmartAsset

Based on five metrics, including student-faculty ratios, average net price, graduation rate, in-state attendance rate, and the 20-year return on investment, Virginia ranked as the No. 1 Top State for Higher Education in the United States.

#2 Best City to Live in Virginia, CreditDonkey

Christiansburg was ranked as the No. 2 Best City (or Town) to Live in Virginia in 2019. Low crime rate and short commute time were two key factors that propelled Christiansburg to the No. 2 spot.

Top 3 in Virginia Aerospace Industry, Southern Business & Development

Montgomery County ranked in the Top 3 for Best Place in Western Virginia for Aerospace Companies, and Virginia Tech ranked in the Top 3 for Best College in Virginia for Aerospace Workforce Training.

#4 Safest City in Virginia, SafeWise

Blacksburg ranked as the #4 Safest City (or Town) in Virginia based on low violent crime rates and low property crime rates within the town.

#13 Best College Town to Start a Career, Business Insider

Blacksburg ranked as the #13 Best College Town in America to Start a Career in 2019. Metrics such as similar state of life population, job market, climate, culture, city infrastructure, and finance were all considered in this ranking.

Outstanding Transit System, American Public Transportation Association

Blacksburg Transit earned a 2019 Outstanding Transit System Award for North America. Blacksburg Transit provides public transportation to Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff, along with Blacksburg citizens and partnering communities within the New River Valley.


Announcements Since 2009 (66)

Jobs Added Since 2009 (3,003)

New - 20% Expansions - 80%

New Jobs - 10% Expansion Jobs - 90%

Investment ($) Since 2009 ($128,440,250)

New Investment - 16% Expansion Investment - 84%

4 5 Montgomery County, Virginia | Home of Virginia Tech and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg 2019 Annual Report Montgomery County Economic Development Department
2009-2019 Project Summary
152 320 471 334 190 111 170 286 195 694 80 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 NEW JOBS BY YEAR
Since 2009, the Department has made 66 total announcements from new and existing businessses. These announcements have resulted in 3,003 total new jobs, with over $128 million in total investment.
7,600,900 3,462,500 43,500,000 5,600,000 8,675,000 18,125,000 9,573,610 8,625,240 13,778,000 5,650,000 3,850,000 0 5,000,000 10,000,000 15,000,000 20,000,000 25,000,000 30,000,000 35,000,000 40,000,000 45,000,000 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 TOTAL INVESTMENT BY YEAR ($)
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People from all over gathered in September for the Kiwanis Wilderness Trail Festival in downtown Christiansburg Image Credit: Downtown Christiansburg Inc.



The Economic Development Department uses its Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) program as a way of maintaining good relationships and communication with companies in Montgomery County. Department staff arrange face-to-face BRE visits with local businesses to identify and help solve any problems or barriers that may be undermining their overall success and growth in our community.

In 2019, the Department visited 53 separate companies, 12 of which required follow up information or services. Overall, the Department conducted a total of 74 visits. Five companies supported through the program announced or completed expansion or relocation projects that will result in $3.85 million in total new private investment and 80 new jobs.


Torc Robotics, a leader in game-changing remote-control, digital-control, and autonomous robotics technologies and systems, announced this year that Daimler Trucks, a division of the Daimler Group, would be acquiring majority stake in their Blacksburg-based company. Daimler Trucks is the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy and medium trucks. Torc is already a leader in self-driving technology through its Asimov software. This new unique relationship will allow the two companies to work together to commercialize highly automated trucks. Torc CEO, Michael Fleming, is commited to keeping the company based in Blacksburg, and the company will remain a separate entity. This partnership will allow Torc to expand its team and grow its customer base in other markets.

In a press release announcing the acquisition, Michael Fleming said, “With the ever rising demand for road transportation, not the least through e-commerce, there is a strong business case for self-driving trucks in the U.S. market and I believe the fastest path to commercialization for self-driving trucks is in partnership with Daimler Trucks, the OEM market leader. This move is in line with our mission of saving lives and represents another major milestone for Torc since crossing the finish line in the DARPA Urban Challenge 12 years ago.”


The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (VTCRC) is a 230-acre park located in Virginia’s Technology Corridor and adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus. This park is home to nearly 200 research, technology, and support companies. With 36 single- and multi-tenant buildings currently on site, there is room to construct 15 additional buildings. Through the companies that call the VTCRC home, there are over 3,300 employees in the park.

Over the last year, the VTCRC has experienced significant growth:

Building 1311

• Virginia Tech Research Building

• 45,000 squre feet

• Completed May 2019

• COgro CO-working COmmunity

• A community of entrepreneurs, professionals, remote workers, early stage and startup companies, trailing spouses, temporary staff, and companies in transition to permanent spaces at the VTCRC to conduct business

• Maximum membership: 64

• Opened October 1, 2019

• Building 1331

• 1901 Group

• 2-story, 45,000 square feet, $8.8 million

• Construction began June 2019, with completition date early 2020

• A provider of IT as a service through enterprise managed services, cybersecurity, and cloud computing, 1901 Group announced at the end of 2018 that it would be adding 580 new jobs their current Blacksburg facility

• A groundbreaking ceremony for the new building was held on August 14, 2019

• Virginia Tech Transporation

Institute (VTTI) Smart Road Rural Expansion

• The VTCRC is working in conjunction with VDOT to design and construct the smart road rural expansion project for VTTI, located on Virginia Tech Foundation Property

• Unique testing facility designed to recreate the challenges of rural roads and support the testing necessary to safely and efficiently deploy automated and autonomous vehicles in challenging environments

• Other


• The VTCRC is providing select parking lots for the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to conduct research. VTTI installed LED luminaires on light poles in Phase I of the research park in July 2019. The lighting research study will be conducted over the next two years.

• Vue Apartments

• Luxury apartments with 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units. Total of 452 bedrooms in 207 units

• Intended to serve the housing needs of the VTCRC employees and students at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

• Rezoning of the property has been completed, and the apartments will be constructed on VTCRC property

6 Montgomery County, Virginia | Home of Virginia Tech and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg 7 2019 Annual Report | Montgomery County Economic Development Department
Existing Industry & Workforce
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Image Credit: 1901 Group Image Credit: VTCRC
Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics work to commercialize highly automated trucks Image Credit: Daimler Trucks North America



In 2019, the Department and its allies generated 41 prospect leads. Thirty-two of the leads required follow-up information (sites and buildings, community data, etc.) and 19 resulted in community visits by the prospects. At year end, 14 were still actively considering projects in Montgomery County, while 6 were successfully located in the County.

Prospect by Industry, 2019 (41)

Source of Leads, 2019 Manufacturing - 39%

23% Life/Bio


The Department actively markets Montgomery County to prospective businesses and site consultants at industry trade shows. The goal of these efforts is to develop leads on new projects that may have an interest in locating in our community. In order to maximize these efforts, the Department often partners with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) at the state level, and Onward New River Valley at the regional level. In 2019, Economic Development staff marketed Montgomery County through several different avenues, including:

Unmanned Systems Industry

Unmanned Systems is a targeted industry for Montgomery County, with many assets and industries that support unmanned systems currently located in the County. This year, the Department attended several different tradeshows, some through partnerships with VEDP, focused on unmanned systems. These tradeshows included AUVSI Xponential held in Chicago, Illinois, Automated Vehicle Symposium in Orlando, Florida, and the AUVSI Ridge and Valley Chapter Symposium: The Power of Partnership in Blacksburg.

Information Technology and Cybersecurity

Information Technology and Software Development is another key industry for Montgomery County. With cybersecurity being an emerging trend in this industry, the Department attended the RSA Conference located in San Francisco, California. This conference allowed the Department to learn more about cybersecurity and connect with industry on the forefront of this emerging technology.

Site Consultants

Partnering with Onward New River Valley, the Department attended a site consultant “speed-dating” event held in Dallas, Texas that was put together by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. The Dallas area is home to many different individuals in the site consulting industry, and VEDP put together a forum that allowed different regions throughout Virginia to pitch their communities to these individuals one-on-one in a fast-paced environment.


Year-End Prospect Status, 2019

The Department has been fortunate to receive three of the grants they applied for over the last year. These grants include a Site Development Grant from the Virginia Department of Economic Development (VEDP), a Planning and Technical Assistance Grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (US EDA), and a Broadband Study Grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). These grants are currently being expended on ongoing projects that the Department is working with outside consultants on.

The Site Development Grant from VEDP is being used to ready all plans needed on the Falling Branch Corporate Park Phase II site to bring it up from a Tier 3 designation under the current Virginia Business Ready Sites Program to a Tier 4, making the site much easier to market to prospects. The Planning and Technical Assistance Grant is being used to have a consultant determine which sites in the County would be best suited for the location of the next tech park. With limited sites currently available for prospects, it is important to plan for the future. Finally, the Broadband Study Grant is being used to study which parts of the County are currently unserved or underserved with broadband. This will allow the County to determine futural capital investment to extend broadband to everyone in the County.

8 9 Montgomery County, Virginia | Home of Virginia Tech and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg 2019 Annual Report | Montgomery County Economic Development Department
Business Attraction & Marketing
prospect tracking system definitions: Located: Project located in Montgomery County. Active: Project is under active consideration. Inactive: No project activity in 3 months or more. Closed: Project located elsewhere, or no activity in over a year.
& Development
Food/Bev Processing
Active - 34% Closed - 31% Inactive - 20% Located - 15% MCDED - 49% VEDP - 27% Onward NRV - 24%
IT/Software Dev. -
- 10% Other - 10% Research
- 7%
- 7% Retail
- 2% Mixed-Use - 2%
definitions: MCDED: Montgomery County Economic Development Department Onward NRV: formerly New River Valley Economic Development Alliance VEDP: Virginia Economic Development Partnership 9 8
The Department attended the annual AUVSI Xponential conference held this yea rin Chicago, Illinois, to market the County to over 8,500 potential prospects in the unmanned and autonomous systems industry. Drone demonstrations at the third annual Ridge and Valley Chapter AUVSI Symposium Image
Credit: AUVSI Ridge & Valley Chapter Facebook



In April, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) hosted the 2019 TechNite Awards Banquet at the Hotel Ronaoke. Seven hundred area leaders in business and innovation gathered together to celebrate the growing technology community in the New River and Roanoke Valleys. The evening was highlighted with an awards ceremony.

While only having seven nominees this year out of fifteen total across the six award categories, Montgomery County companies and individuals took home awards in five out of the six. This year’s Company of the Year winner was 1901 Group. The Regional Leadership award was shared between Virginia Tech’s President, Timothy Sands, and the President and CEO of the Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Nancy Agee. The Innovator of the Year award went to Luna Innovations Entrepreneur of the Year was awarded to Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc Robotics. And finally, the Rising Star award was presented to Block.one. Along with these awards given to Montgomery County companies and individuals, Montgomery County’s own Marty Muscatello, President and CEO of Foxguard Solutions, Inc., was inducted into the RBTC’s Hall of Fame.

The Economic Development Department was a sponsor of the 2019 TechNite Awards Banquet to express Montgomery County’s appreciation for the economic impact the regional technology sector has on our community. The Department also sponsored the Rising Star Award.

“It is my honor to congratulate all of this year’s RBTC TechNite award winners and nominees. We are very pleased to have so many wonderful companies and individuals in the technology industry represent Montgomery County at this year’s awards,” said Montgomery County Administrator, Craig Meadows. “It is the forward-thinking spirit of these companies and individuals that has allowed our county to experience substantial growth in the technology industry over the last few years. Their contributions to the County have helped to make us one of the top locations in the Commonwealth for technology and innovation.”


Each year, Onward New River Valley, the regional economic development group for Montgomery County and the New River Valley, holds its annual dinner. This dinner allows the regional group to showcase what they have done over the past year, as well as recognize key stakeholders, investors, and partners who have aided in their success.

This year, Onward NRV presented a newly created Regional Impact Award at the dinner to five different companies located within the region. Of the five companies that received recognition, four of them are located in Montgomery County. The 2019 award winners from the County were Ozmo, Inc., Torc Robotics, 1901 Group, and Inorganic Ventures. This award recognizes companies that are creating jobs and investing money into the region.


The Department sponsored several events in 2019 for business outreach and to support the initiatives of its many partners and allies.

Events Sponsored:

• Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament and Annual Banquet

• Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council TechNite Awards Banquet

• 2019 VT Global Entrepreneur Challenge

• AUVSI Ridge and Valley Chapter Unmanned Systems Symposium

• VEDP Exporters event and Global Networking Partners event


YesMontgomeryVA.org is the official website of the Economic Development Department, and showcases the quality of life and business climate in Montgomery County. In 2019, the website had over 10,104 visitors from over 49 countries and all 50 U.S. states. The Department sent out nine news releases, via email marketing and social media, that generated 5,239 page views. The news releases marketed community accolades and business announcements.

YesMontgomeryVA.org visitors from U.S.

Top International Visitors

10 11 Montgomery County, Virginia | Home of Virginia Tech and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg
2019 Annual Report | Montgomery County Economic Development Department
Top Metro Areas by Visits 1 Blacksburg, VA 3,962 2 Charlottesville, VA 423 3 Boardman, OR 388 4 Washington, DC 367 5 Roanoke, VA 261 6 Richmond, VA 155 7 New York, NY
8 Charlotte, NC
9 Atlanta, GA 79
Greenville, NC 59
1 Canada 341 2 India 106 3 Germany 36 4 United Kingdom 12 5 Singapore
Communications & Outreach
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Image Credit: RBTC April Demotts, Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair, presents Rising Star award to Montgomery County company, Block.one, at this year’s RBTC TechNite



Wing Aviation, an Alphabet company, opened its first United States operation to launch the first commercial drone delivery in the United States. After working with Virginia Tech and the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) for several years, Wing decided to open a location in the U.S. to test what it had already been testing in Australia.

After working with the Department to select a location in Christiansburg - in the heart of Montgomery County’s retail network - Wing officially launched their delivery system in late October. As part of a beginning test phase, Wing has partnered with Walgreens, FedEx, and local merchant, Sugar Magnolia, to deliver goods to citizens living within a certain distance from the test site.

Part of this program’s plan is to deliver goods to citizens in a much shorter time than it would take for them to drive to the store and make the purchase themselves. This program will continue testing into 2020.


• Midtown Redevelopment (Blacksburg) - On the site of the Old Blacksburg Middle School, Midtown Redevelopment Partners LLC purchased the property in 2017 and are planning for a new mixed-use development. This project includes a hotel, upscale office and retail space, a new police department for the Town of Blacksburg, a new parking garage, outdoor space, and upscale townhomes and condos. Midtown received rezoning from the Town in 2019 and will begin construction soon. This project is estimated to cost over $100 million.

• Clifton Town Center (Christiansburg) - A proposed project by two separate developers will turn approximately 37 acres in Christiansburg into a mixed-use development. Blacksburg-based Stateson Homes is seeking a rezoning request for approximately 28 acres of land that will be home to townhomes, apartments, a shopping center, office space, and a hotel. An additional 9.1 acres of the property is being sought for rezoning by Roanoke-based Magnolia Point Community LLC to build 14 townhomes and 132 apartment units. Both projects were approved by the Town of Christiansburg’s Planning Commission in unanimous votes in 2019.


In 2019, $82.9 million in road projects were either allocated or under construction. Two major projects under construction include:

• New River Bridge I-81 exit 105 (Montgomery County) - Construction of this $48 million project began in winter 2016. The goal of this project is to replace the northbound bridge and widen the shoulders and approach to the bridge on Interstate 81 at the New River on the Montgomery County and Pulaski County line. The Route 232 overpass will also be reconstructed to accomodate widening the interstate, and the northbound deceleration lane lengths will be improved by adding an extended deceleration lane. Work on this project is expected to be finished in late 2020.

• Bridge Replacements I-81/Route 8 Exit 114 (Montgomery County) - VDOT allocated $34.9 million to replace the two Interstate 81 bridges over Route 8. In order to replace the two bridges, I-81 will be realigned, the exit 114 ramp will be adjusted, and the grade will be changed at the bridge approaches. This projet officially began construction in January 2019. Currently, the estimated completion date for the two new bridges is in the Fall 2021.

12 Montgomery County, Virginia | Home of Virginia Tech and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg 13 2019 Annual Report | Montgomery County Economic Development Department
Project Area for the I-81/Route 8 Bridge Replacement
Real Estate and Infrastructure
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Project Area for the I-81 New River Bridge Replacement Midtown Redevelopment rendering
Image Credit: VDOT Image Credit: MidtownBlacksburg.com Image Credit: VDOT
Wing Aviation’s commercial drone delivery test location in Christiansburg, Virginia



In September 2019, the Virginia Tourism Corporation released its 2018 report on the Economic Impact of Domestic Travel on Virginia and Localities. The report, prepared by the U.S. Travel Association, examined tourism spending in Virginia by U.S. visitors traveling 50 miles or more away from home.

According to the report, tourism spending in Montgomery County reached $160.3 million in 2018, a 5.0 percent increase over 2017. Visitor spending was estimated to have generated $9.7 million in combined state and local taxes for Montgomery County and the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg. The report also found that the local tourism industry supported 1,456 jobs and had an annual payroll of $31 million.

The Montgomery County/Blacksburg/Christiansburg VA Regional Tourism Office collaborates with local hospitality and tourism businesses, advocacy organizations, local government, secondary and higher education institutions, and civic organizations to attract visitors to the area for first-time, as well as repeat, visits. The program also promotes longer stays and additional spending by building awareness for events and attractions throughout the community.

“This year our marketing focused on our partnership with the Virginia Tourism Corporation to help promote and celebrate 50 years of the Virginia is for Lovers slogan,” said Lisa Bleakley, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Regional Tourism Office. “One way we participated was by hosting a Fall Study Tour for the staff of the 13 Virginia State Welcome Centers to experience Montgomery County and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg. The counselors left with experiences and knowledge to share with the thousands of visitors they see daily.


The Economic Development Department provides administrative support to the following entities.


The Economic Development Authority (EDA) was created in 1970 by the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. The EDA has the authority to issue industrial development bonds as well as acquire, lease and/or sell real and personal property. The EDA meets the third Tuesday of every month. The Department provides staff support to the EDA.


John Tutle - Chair

Tommy Loflin - Vice Chair

James Taylor III

Eric Johnsen

Steve Baffuto

Tessa Wright


Brian T. Hamilton – Secretary/Treasurer

Brenda Rigney – Assistant Secretary/Treasurer

Marty McMahon – Legal Counsel

Craig Meadows – County Administrator

Angie Hill – Finance Director


The Montgomery Regional Economic Development Commission (EDC) was created in 1982 by a resolution of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. The EDC acts in an advisory capacity on economic development matters for the County. It meets the fourth Thursday of every month. The Department provides staff support to the EDC.


Michael Miller - Chair

John Overton - Vice Chair

Darrell Sheppard

Peter Anderson

James Creekmore

Richard Alvarez


Joe Meredith

Michael Barber

Paul Lancaster

Jerry Ford

Mark Woolwine

Brian T. Hamilton – Department Director

Brenda Rigney – Secretary

The MBC Development Corporation is a 501(c) 3 organization created in 1985 to enhance and broaden the employment base in Montgomery County by providing small business with low interest loans not available from conventional sources. Since its creation, the MBC has provided 37 small business loans totaling over $1.6 million.


Tom Via - President

John Cusimano - Vice President

Michael Barber

Brad Denardo

Jason Hardy

Robert Parks

Michael Sutphin

Jeanne Symanoskie

Mary Biggs

Chad Reed


Brenda Rigney - Secretary/Treasurer

Marty McMahon - Legal Counsel

Brian Hamilton - Department Director

14 Montgomery County, Virginia | Home of Virginia Tech and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg 15
2019 Annual Report | Montgomery County Economic Development Department
Image Credit: Montgomery County Tourism Office
Boards and Commissions
$129.4 $132.6 $136.3 $139.5 $143.8 $152.6 $160.3 $0 $20 $40 $60 $80 $100 $120 $140 $160 $180 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 (in millions)
15 14
The Montgomery County Tourism Office hosts staff of 13 Virginia State Welcome Centers and poses in front of the LOVE sign on display at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center
MONTGOMERY COUNTY • VIRGINIA BLACKSBURG • CHRISTIANSBURG • VIRGINIATECH www.YesMontgomeryVA.org MONTGOMERY COUNTY, VIRGINIA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT 755 Roanoke St., Suite 2H, Christiansburg, VA, 24073 (866) 270-9185 | YesMontgomeryVA.org Facebook & Twitter: @YesMontgomeryVA YouTube: YesMontgomeryVA Linkedin: Montgomery County VA Economic Development
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