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Town-and-country lifestyle, access to university talent attract investment WHILE VIRGINIA’S LARGER metro

areas along Interstates 95 and 64 have been recognized as technology hubs, the Commonwealth’s smaller metros are leveraging their unique strengths to create their own tech clusters. Numerous tech companies have established new headquarters or expanded their operations in Virginia’s smaller metros, in some cases revitalizing long-abandoned office buildings and factories. With a steady pipeline of tech-savvy graduates from local universities — in addition to low turnover and favorable operating costs — Blacksburg, Charlottesville, and Lynchburg continue to entice tech startups and expansions. While recruiting to Blacksburg or Charlottesville requires a different sales pitch than drawing talent to larger metro areas, technology companies have had success with graduates of local universities and potential employees looking for a different lifestyle. “You have to be honest with people about what Blacksburg is and isn’t,’’ said Chris Riegger, chief operating officer of Blacksburg-based healthcare technology consultant Modea, which announced a 20-job expansion last year. Riegger grew up near Fredericksburg, but spent much of his professional career outside Virginia in New York City and London. He was initially unsure about returning to the Commonwealth. “After graduating from high school, I never wanted to come back,” he said. “But it’s been a great move for the family. We love it here.” Modea plans to nearly double its workforce this year. Another area headquarters, autonomous vehicle manufacturer Torc Robotics, announced an $8.5 million expansion last year that will create 350 new jobs in Montgomery

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Virginia Economic Review: First Quarter 2021  

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