Virginia Economic Review: Fourth Quarter 2020

Page 1


Seven states claim the Northern cardinal as a state bird, but only Virginia can claim to be part of the bird’s international story. The cardinal was known as the “Virginia nightingale” in eighteenth-century England.

Contents 8 Remote Control The COVID-19 pandemic sent American workers to the home office in record numbers. Here’s what could be next for telework

20 Behind the Love: A Conversation With Rita McClenny Virginia Tourism Corporation President and CEO Rita McClenny discusses overseeing one of the most enduring brands in tourism marketing

38 Selling Scenery A new focus on outdoor recreation has helped the Roanoke Region attract businesses and talent

92 Making AI Serve Us All: A Conversation With Kevin Scott Microsoft’s Kevin Scott discusses how artificial intelligence is poised to transform the U.S. economy

98 The Virginia Beer Company Makes Export Inroads The Williamsburg brewery is leaning on lifestyle to boost its international sales

4 Facts & Figures 6 Virginia Wins 104 Economic Development Partners in Virginia

Virginia: The Newcomer’s Perspective New residents weigh in on their Virginia experience

24 Ryan Baker 44 Ashwin Kopparthi 50 John Brown 54 Lindsey Moore 70 Dr. Jacqueline Gill Powell 82 Chris McHugh

Notable Virginians Making a Difference From the bottom of the Rappahannock River to outer space, these Virginians have made their mark — and they’ve built their legacies in the Commonwealth

26 Jean Case 36 Leland Melvin 56 Amy Black 68 Ryan & Travis Croxton 72 Gayle Jessup White

Subscribe today. Visit


Dragon’s Tooth is one of the “Triple Crown” of Blue Ridge hikes in the Roanoke Region.


Virginia: America’s Best State for Quality of Life THE FIRST SEVEN ISSUES of Virginia

Economic Review detailed what makes Virginia a premier location for leading companies across many industries. In this issue, we feature Virginia’s exceptional quality of life, which was recognized by Forbes as the best in the United States. The Forbes Quality of Life ranking factors in education, weather, health, cost of living, crime rates, and commute times, as well as cultural and recreational opportunities. This issue is full of examples of the latter, including what Virginia offers residents in the areas of natural beauty, arts and culture, history, and sports. We also highlight the Commonwealth’s vibrant cities and mild, four-season climate, along with the plethora of recreational activities available here for people and families of all ages, as well as some unique attractions found only in Virginia. Also inside is a discussion with Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, which created and stewards the iconic “Virginia Is for Lovers” brand. We provide an inside look into how the Roanoke Region creatively leverages outdoor recreation to cultivate business

investment opportunities. We explore telework and its future after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, as well as how companies can make the return to the office safer and less stressful for employees. Finally, we go straight to the source on quality of life in Virginia, talking with several recent Virginia transplants about what they love about the Commonwealth and interviewing notable Virginians about their experiences here. We hope you enjoy this special issue highlighting why Virginia is such an exceptional place to live (and work). We would love to have you as our neighbor. At a minimum, this issue will leave you with some good ideas for your next trip to the Commonwealth. Best regards,

Stephen Moret President and CEO, Virginia Economic Development Partnership @StephenMoret


Facts Figures TOP

10 Best U.S. Cities to


20 LGBTQ-Friendly

Move to Right Now Arlington


College of William & Mary

Curbed, 2020

The Princeton Review, 2020

Best Colleges for LGBTQ+ Students University of Virginia

6 Pride, 2020


Employers Listed, “Best Employers for Diversity�

Second-Best in the South, 10th-Best in the Country Forbes, 2020



State for Socioeconomic Diversity WalletHub, 2020


Most Diverse Cities in America Alexandria WalletHub, 2020


Employers with Rankings of 100%, Corporate Equality Index Best in the South, 9th-Best in the Country

Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 2020

Localities With Perfect Scores in Municipal Equality Index Human Rights Campaign, 2020

Alexandria Arlington County Richmond Virginia Beach

Virginia Pride’s Pri

deFest draws 30

,000 people to Bro

Best Cities to Live in America

Best Places to Live in America

Niche, 2020

Money, 2020

1 19 45

11 20

Arlington Alexandria

Ashburn Midlothian

Virginia Beach

wn’s Island in do wn

town Richmond

each year.




Selected Virginia Wins

Central Virginia Silk City Printing

Jobs: 93 New Jobs CapEx: $5.7M Locality: Fluvanna County

Greater Richmond

Greenswell Growers, Inc. Jobs: 27 New Jobs CapEx: $17M Locality: Goochland County

Rose Holm

Torc Robotics will create 350 new jobs by expanding its software development operations in Montgomery County in the New River Valley, supporting the company’s effort to develop self-driving trucks along with parent company Daimler Trucks, the global market-share leader. With an $8.5 million investment, Torc will establish an additional facility at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in close proximity to its current operation in the Blacksburg Industrial Park. The company was founded by a team of Virginia Tech students who decided to commercialize their technology after winning multiple robotics competitions and has 15 years of experience in the field of self-driving applications. In 2019, Torc joined the Daimler Trucks family and now employs about 175 people. Vehicles using Torc technology currently operate on multiple continents.

Jobs: 10 New Jobs CapEx: $1.4M Locality: Henrico County

T-Mobile US, Inc.

Jobs: 500 New Jobs CapEx: $30M Locality: Henrico County

Hampton Roads Plasser American

Jobs: 98 New Jobs CapEx: $52.6M Locality: City of Chesapeake


Jobs: 180 New Jobs CapEx: $5.3M Locality: City of Virginia Beach

I81-I77 Crossroads Hitachi ABB Power Grids Jobs: 40 New Jobs CapEx: $6.2M Locality: Bland County

Musser Lumber Company Jobs: 12 New Jobs CapEx: $2.4M Locality: Wythe County

SPIG Industry, LLC

In our experience, people in the region stay with companies for the long term. Commercializing self-driving trucks is a marathon, not a sprint, and requires a long-term commitment from companies, investors, and employees. Virginia policy enables us to test our vehicles on public roads, which is critical to bringing this technology to market. MICHAEL FLEMING CEO, Torc Robotics

Jobs: 113 New Jobs CapEx: $7.9M Locality: Washington County

Northern Virginia

Energix Renewable Energies Jobs: 33 New Jobs CapEx: $1.1M Locality: Arlington County

Southern Virginia Ison Furniture Manufacturing, Inc.

Jobs: 195 New Jobs CapEx: $3.5M Locality: Pittsylvania County

Virginia’s Gateway Region Mount-It!

Jobs: 85 New Jobs CapEx: $7.5M Locality: Prince George County


REMOTE CONTROL What’s next for telework after the huge, sudden boost from the novel coronavirus?

Full-time workers who work from home during COVID-19:


People who expect to work from home:

92% 80%



If they could work from home all or most of the time:






Source: Owl Labs, 2020 State of Remote Work: COVID-19 Edition, 2020

reg Graziosi compares his former office at a local newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio, to working in “the ribs of a long-dead animal.” The windowless space was crammed with empty cubicles, their desks groaning under stacks of old papers. Also, it was noisy: TVs were on all the time, a police scanner buzzed constantly, and reporters chatted with each other and sources. Occasionally, the air conditioning would go out and everyone would have to decamp to a nearby restaurant. Last year, Graziosi’s newspaper shut down permanently and laid off the entire staff, including him. He moved to Washington, D.C., a better media market, and in January 2020, he was hired remotely as a reporter at a different publication. He was nervous, at first, to go from a traditional newsroom to his own living room, but he’s been surprised by how much he’s enjoyed it. He gets to spend more time with his girlfriend, who is also working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, Graziosi worried about his productivity, but that hasn’t suffered. In the newsroom, he was constantly bracing for a distraction to come his way, so he never got “in the zone.” Now, he feels more focused on his work, even if he and his girlfriend stop to chat during the day.

“A GREAT BIG SHOVE” Graziosi is not the only one feeling the liberating strangeness of remote work. The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly dumped most office workers into the world of telework. In April 2020, Gallup found that nearly two-thirds of employed Americans were working remotely, double the rate that were doing so just two weeks earlier. In general, there’s been a slow but steady increase in remote work over the past few decades, led by higher-income workers in the private sector. Some economists predict that this will continue even after a coronavirus vaccine arrives and it’s safe to return to our offices. A recent Gartner survey of

corporate leaders found that 82% plan to allow some remote work in the future, and 47% plan to allow it all the time. “Many companies would have switched to telework with just a small push, and now they’re getting a great big shove,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter. Before the pandemic, many employers saw remote work as a perk that could attract better talent. The pandemic has offered proof that it has few productivity downsides. In a 2015 study, Stanford University economist Nick Bloom found that Chinese call center employees were 13% more productive when they worked from home. “A lot of [companies] are looking at this last couple months and thinking, ‘Wow, this has gone a lot better than we thought,’” said Bradford Bell, a professor of strategic human resources at Cornell University. “And that’s increased their openness to remote work and flexible work arrangements.”

what? We’re just going to go with 15,000 or 20,000 square feet. That’s all we need at this point,’” said Ian Anderson, senior director of research at CBRE. Still, Anderson says there’s still more of a trickle than a flood of companies giving up space. And rather than reducing their footprints, some employers are actually scouting larger spaces so they can spread apart their employees as an infectioncontrol measure. Sublet space is slightly up in Virginia, according to analysts with the CoStar Group, a real estate information company, meaning that some companies are putting their unused office space back on the market. Walmart Labs and WeWork have both put space on the sublet market in Northern Virginia, says Nicholas Mills, a market analyst with CoStar. But other companies, like Amazon, are actually acquiring more office space in Virginia.

The reason so many workers have seamlessly transitioned to working from their living rooms is largely thanks to better technology. One poll in June found that 45% of American workers were regularly taking part in Zoom or other video-conferencing calls.

Some companies that are picking out offices now are gravitating toward nicer buildings, so they can use the space for meetings and events rather than dayto-day work. There’s also been a slight migration to the suburbs among both renters and corporations.

Before the rise of these platforms, working from home was considerably more difficult. In a qualitative study performed in 2003, researchers in the United Kingdom found that managers at some companies would visit their remote employees at their homes. This was as awkward as it sounds: One female manager carried a small folding chair around with her so she would not have to “sit on the marital bed next to a male colleague’s desk,” as the study put it. It’s enough to make the most ardent Luddite thankful for Slack.

Richmond is also emerging as a lower-cost alternative to major metros across the country. “Our forecasts show that better times are ahead for office demand in a place like Richmond,” Anderson said. In June, for example, tech company ASGN relocated its headquarters from California to Henrico County in the Richmond area.

WHAT BECOMES OF THE OFFICE? Nationally, the trend toward remote work means that many companies have been dumping office space. “Some companies that previously needed, for instance, 50,000 square feet, are saying, ‘You know

For local companies that were already flexible about working from home, the pandemic has pushed even more operations to the virtual realm. Before the pandemic, managers at Elastic, a highly distributed tech company with an office in Arlington, already rarely tracked whether employees were coming into their local office or not. Still, before the pandemic struck, the managers sometimes thought, “Oh, we have to have a face-to-face meeting, or that thing



I think you’re likely to see a more hybrid approach in the future, where there will be some conferences that happen face to face, and then there will be some that occur virtually, probably more so than we saw in the past. BRADFORD BELL Professor of Strategic Human Resources, Cornell University

is not going to be effective without us getting into a single room,” said Elastic CEO Shay Banon. “Then, lo and behold, we can manage without it.” Even after it’s safe to return to cubicles, Elastic employees might still stay home more. But Banon said he wouldn’t count on an all-remote, all-the-time culture. Sometimes, people still “want to go to a shared office. They want to have social interactions, to escape home.”

BEST PRACTICES EMERGE IN REAL TIME If working from home does become a staple of work life, the rhythms and practices of work itself may change. Meetings that companies previously flew employees around the country for might now be conducted virtually. Companies might view Zoom conferences as a costsaving measure and a way to reach a broader audience. “I think you’re likely to see a more hybrid approach in the future,” Bell said, “where there will be some conferences that happen face to face, and then there will be some that occur virtually, probably more so than we saw in the past.”


Virtual assistants might also become more common as bosses become geographically separated from the administrative assistants they traditionally worked with in close proximity. Even in 2017, thousands of such web-based assistants were listed on freelancing sites. Andrew Morris, founder of the D.C.-based cybersecurity startup GreyNoise, has an assistant named Sarah who lives in New York and serves several other clients. She manages his calendar and occasionally performs other tasks, such as transcription, saving him about 10 hours a week. Their relationship is entirely virtual: The closest they ever communicate is on a phone call every few weeks. Rather than have set working hours, teams might become more likely to have “hours of overlap” — a chunk of the day that they all agree to be online — which works as well for employees in Paris, France, as those in Paris, Texas, according to Mark Kilby, a business coach who focuses on remote work. Kilby suggests that if some employees are in the office and others are remote, companies might consider a “buddy system,” pairing an in-office participant with a remote worker to be sure

the remote worker’s ideas are heard and that they don’t suffer technical difficulties. A similar setup might work for onboarding new employees into an all-virtual office. People who start work at MoveOn, a Democratic advocacy group that’s fully distributed, get an “onboarding buddy” — a person they can come to for questions who isn’t their boss. They can pepper their buddy with queries about the kinds of office norms people tend to pick up eventually, but which might be awkward to ask your manager about. These types of solutions are something CEOs would do well to start thinking about now, in case they can’t manage to coax their employees back into their cubicles after the pandemic ends. “The genie is out of the bottle,” Kilby said. “Some people have been exposed to remote work, they see some options, and they might like those options.”


SAFETY AND AFFORDABILITY DRIVE TRENDS IN OFFICE SPACE Like everything else in the age of COVID-19, the office space market is a moving target, with needs and demands changing in real time. Key drivers are an increasingly remote workforce, social distancing, and maintaining a lower density of employees in more open environments. A 2020 McKinsey survey of office space decision-makers indicated that companies expect the percentage of time worked in main and satellite offices to decline by 12% and 9%, respectively. As companies redefine their operations to deal with the impacts of the pandemic, real estate experts see several key trends emerging in the office space sector.

SMALLER, MORE FLEXIBLE SPACES More than two-thirds (69%) of large company CEOs intend to downsize their office space, according to a 2020 survey by KPMG. “Companies are shrinking their footprints and planning for multi-users on a rotating basis,” said Greg Burkart, leader of the site selection and incentives advisory practice for Duff & Phelps, a business consulting firm. A rotating schedule can define which employees come into the office and which work remotely, limiting unnecessary interaction. As real estate services and investment management company Colliers International put it, “The office will become more of a destination that will attract workers to what the office does best: gathering, knowledge transfer, onboarding, social interaction, and connection to brand, culture, and mission.”

AN OPEN ENVIRONMENT “Space is king,” Burkart said. “Companies don’t want their employees to be crowded in elevators

or small lobbies.” As a result, lowlevel buildings are increasingly preferred to high-rise office space. Open floor plans create more space — commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield touts its 6 Feet Office plan, which includes visually displayed routing paths for each office — and are easier to clean and sanitize. They also minimize the need for employees to touch door handles, reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus and other microorganisms. Kate North, vice president of workplace strategy at Colliers International, said, “Every configuration of every floor plan should be adjusted to look at distancing and safety.”

COMPANIES MOVING OUT OF CITY CENTERS According to Burkart, businesses are interested in the suburbs, where campus-style facilities are more prevalent. “This is not just due to COVID-19 — many young professionals are leaving Seattle, Chicago, New York, and other cities and moving to smaller towns and telecommuting,” he said. This is part of the trend toward “distributed urbanization,” where businesses take offices in outlying communities around a larger city, creating a digitally enabled, hyper-connected region, with easy city access when needed. In its 2020 report, “The Future of Global Office Demand,” commercial real estate company JLL said the phenomenon “offers a more sustainable model based on reduced commuting, flexible working, and micro-mobility.”


to office buildings that employ strict sanitation procedures, creating as “touchless” an environment as possible. This includes smart materials and technologies, improved ventilation systems, and antimicrobial surfaces. “Deep cleaning should become a standard, not just a oncein-a-while proposition,” said Larry Lander, principal at architectural and design firm PDR, who believes that building owners who showcase advanced sanitization technologies will gain a distinct market advantage in the months and years to come. As companies move ahead into a “new normal,” the most important consideration is being certain their workplace environments are safe and healthy for their employees. Technology will play a major role in attaining these goals, whether in the form of sensors, temperature control, air-quality technology, or other advances. Contactless processes, already a major part of many offices in the form of automatic sinks and motion-activated lights, will be a particular differentiating factor as employers and building owners strive to assure employees and tenants that their health is a priority. As Cushman & Wakefield put it in its 2020 article, “Do Amenities Still Matter in a Post-COVID-19 World?,” “The current crisis has confirmed that certain types of work are equally possible inside or outside of the office.… Differentiation through amenities will be more vital for landlords and occupiers seeking to create vibrant spaces for employees who now have more options for where and how to work.”

With worker safety a top concern, companies are increasingly attracted


Skiers and snowboard ers enjoy Massanutten Resort in Rockingham County, which also fea tures an 18-hole golf course and an ind oor/outdoor water park that’s open year-round.



Live the Four Seasons in Virginia VIRGINIA’S LOCATION on the Eastern Seaboard means residents get to experience all four seasons, no matter where they live in the state. Virginians can ski, surf, and view fall foliage without leaving the Commonwealth.

Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County is a four-season mountain retreat on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains offering seasonal skiing, snowboarding, and snowtubing.




Visitors to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Henrico County can enjoy numerous programs aimed at children, including a butte rfly exhibit, Easter programming, and a child ren’s garden. It has been named one of the best botanical gardens in the nation by USA Toda y.


SUM MER Coles Point Marina in Colonial Beach is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and crabbing, in addition to less equipmentintensive water activities.


er surfing a good beginn Sandbridge is relatively th wi h ac a Be spot in Virgini e m fro the mor and seclusion small waves rt area. so re nt ro nf crowded ocea

Tangier Island in the Che sapeake Bay has been referred to as “one of the last waterman com munities in the Chesap eake.” Because of its remote location, residen ts speak in a unique dial ect that’s closer to British English than wha t most Americans spe ak.


k to Hay the eight-mile tre Hikers who make arded with rew are ty un Co Rock in Roanoke Reserve ns Cove Natural views of the Carvi y. lle Va e ok an and the entire Ro


Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year in Virginia, and traveling throughout the Commonwealth during this season can reveal an abundance of color. Virginia’s expansive woodlands, famously bluetinged mountains, and rambling scenic byways are the place to be when fall foliage is at its fiery peak.



Behind the Love A Conversation With Rita McClenny


Rita McClenny is president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), the agency tasked with expanding domestic and international inbound travel and motion picture production in Virginia. A native Virginian from Southampton County, she spent several years running the Virginia Film Office, a division of VTC, before taking over the agency in 2012. VEDP President and CEO Stephen Moret spoke with McClenny about Virginia’s top tourist destinations, marketing tourism during a global pandemic, and what it’s like overseeing one of the most enduring brands in tourism marketing, “Virginia is for Lovers.” Stephen Moret: A lot of people don’t know that VEDP and VTC share office space. We even share a number of functions, and it’s really brought us close together as partners. So, Rita, could we start off with an overview of the roles, responsibilities, and mission of VTC? Rita McClenny: The VTC mission is to expand domestic and international inbound travel and motion picture production to generate revenue and work opportunities in Virginia. Our vision is to foster a spirit of partnership within Virginia’s tourism and motion picture industry. We look at how tourism changes communities across Virginia. Moret: It’s a special mission, and one that I know that you enjoy, because I see you walk to work every day with a smile. One of the things VTC is charged with doing is overseeing one of the most iconic brands in travel in the United States, “Virginia is for Lovers.” Could you share how that phrase came about and how it’s evolved in Virginia? McClenny: It was 1969, and it was actually the agency we currently have under contract, The Martin Agency. They were looking for something different and groundbreaking, and “Virginia is for Lovers” came to life. A state tourism brand with a whimsical slogan really did roll out with excitement and shock. It opens the imagination. When you think about “Virginia is for Lovers,” what does that mean? We get the question still today.

Fifty-one years later, it’s still, “What does ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ mean?” We say anything that you love in a vacation, you can find it in Virginia. Whatever experience you like to enjoy while you’re on vacation with loved ones, you can find it in Virginia. So, whether it’s outdoors, whether it’s the coast or the cliff, whether it’s music, sports, film — anything you can imagine doing on a vacation, we have it right here in Virginia. That has been a big part of keeping the brand relevant and always having different avenues and roads we can follow and explore and bring to the consumer. Moret: One of the things that I think really speaks to how beloved and well-known that brand is is how often it’s utilized in other forms. People make bumper stickers that say, “Virginia is for Computer Science Lovers,” or “Virginia is for Data Lovers,” or all kinds of other things. Traveling the country and the world promoting tourism and travel to Virginia, what are the perceptions of the Commonwealth of Virginia you most often encounter? McClenny: That we welcome everyone and anyone. That we are located in the Mid-Atlantic and we are very accessible by air, sea, and car. That Virginia has the Atlantic Ocean bordered on the East and the Blue Ridge Mountains bordered on the West. It’s a place with all the assets and all the beauty that one would want.

The fact that we’re the birthplace of country music, the founding colonies. The fact that Virginia Indians have been on this soil for more than 12,000 years. There’s just so much history. If people know us for one thing, they know Virginia for history. Moret: What are people most surprised about when traveling or relocating to Virginia? McClenny: That we have 300 miles of beaches and we have eight different varieties of oysters. That always gets people. When we give them the whole rundown about all the different merroirs of taste and that we have eight, they go, “What? I didn’t know that.” Moret: When you think about folks visiting, they come for different reasons and visit different places. What are some of the most common destinations, and what are some that are up-and-coming? McClenny: It’s really outdoor recreation. People know the Blue Ridge Parkway, they know the Shenandoah Valley, but Canadians come by the hundreds of thousands to bike on our trails. We are a goal destination for mountain biking, and investments are being made in those mountain biking trails and our trail systems. We work very closely with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, as well as the Department of Wildlife Resources, at blending agritourism, farms, outdoor wildlife, and trail systems.



50 YEAR S OF LOVE 1969



2002 - 2013





Moret: Tourism has faced some real challenges this year with the pandemic — not just here in Virginia, but around the world. In terms of getting people to travel during a pandemic, what are the most important amenities touristoriented businesses need to build or rebuild to gain customer trust? How do you see things coming back in Virginia and beyond in the hospitality sector? McClenny: The road to recovery from the pandemic is filled with surprises and opportunities for creativity. We’re looking at consumer sentiment and how we’re responding to the data of what the consumer is thinking, the kinds of products the consumer wants to really get into, and what will give them the confidence to venture back out. Number one is a safe environment in which to travel. Touchless technology is a growing sector and will continue to be a growing sector. We’re looking and working with companies that produce products which provide clean and safe environments, and we see those partnerships evolving with airlines and various brands. In our messaging, we’re talking about when you’re ready, we’ll be here, or saying to people that when the time is right, come see us. The campaign we’re running right now is “Wanderlove.” We know you’re thinking about traveling. Go ahead and pick those places, go online for a virtual tour. That, eventually, will result in an actual visit. We’ve had to go back to the dream state of imagining travel and then inspiring travel. Moret: What a lot of folks don’t understand is how big an economic driver tourism is in the United States, and in Virginia in particular. What’s the overall impact tourism has in the Commonwealth? McClenny: The Virginia travel industry is the sixth-largest employer among all nonfarm industry sectors, which is 7.1% of total private employment. In 2019, domestic travel spend supported 337,000 jobs, and that was a $27 billion visitor


spend around the Commonwealth. Investing in tourism promotion stimulates visitor demand, and that’s what our responsibility is at Virginia Tourism. We’re the chief marketing officer for the Commonwealth. The revenue generated from the industry benefits local residents. It benefits communities across Virginia. Tourism spending supported $1.8 billion in Virginia state and local tax revenue and $6.4 billion in payroll in 2019. Moret: It’s been clear how important that sector is, and we’re excited that we’re starting to see some recovery there. Before you took over VTC, you actually ran the Virginia Film Office for a number of years. I used to head up the Louisiana Film Office. Talk a bit about the role of media and film production as a sector in Virginia, and also in promoting Virginia as a place to visit. McClenny: Media is another open door to a view on Virginia, whether it’s history, it’s contemporary, or it’s a reimagination of some stories. We have media, film, television — not only produced by Virginians, but we also attract productions from around the world. Of course, Los Angeles and New York are two of the prime markets where we go and recruit filmmaking to Virginia. In fact, as of October, we’re going to own Sunday night. “The Good Lord Bird” is Ethan Hawke playing John Brown, and it was filmed 100% in Virginia. Then we have “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” the third in the series of “The Walking Dead.” It’s filmed in Virginia, and they’ll be back for a second season. We have a lot coming out currently in the marketplace. Portions of “Wonder Woman 1984” were filmed in Northern Virginia. So we’re very excited about the new products we have coming out, and we’re also excited that companies are figuring out how to operate in this COVID-19 environment. We have two shows going into production. One is “Dopesick,” which is a book by Beth Macy, who’s a Virginian. It explores the opioid crisis. The other is “Swagger,” an

Apple and CBS co-production. Moret: I know you spent most of your life in Virginia, but you did leave the Commonwealth to attend college in New York State and in Tennessee. In retrospect, how did those experiences influence how you think about your work in Virginia’s tourism industry? McClenny: I’ve always traveled. We traveled as a family. My dad did help a lot with agriculture with the mission in Africa, in a town called Monrovia in Liberia. My mom traveled and helped with preservation and how to grow gardens. We would go along on their trips to Africa, and we would travel to Europe and South America. That’s kind of in my DNA. I think part of growing up and seeing the world, being curious and finding a lot of excitement in that, informed me as a human being to be considerate and empathetic and loving, and just to value people and things. Moret: One of the things I’ve enjoyed about getting to know you and your team at VTC is the sense of joy and enthusiasm that exudes from all of you about Virginia and about visiting and traveling across Virginia. It’s really infectious. I always feel great about the job you guys are doing, promoting the Commonwealth. What are your personal favorite places to visit in the Commonwealth? McClenny: That’s an impossible question, Stephen. There are so many. I will say this — I love our four seasons, if it’s snow, or going to the beach, or going to the mountains, or fishing. I will say that my favorite place in Virginia is whatever I can see from the back of a horse. That’s my favorite. Moret: We’ve covered a lot of ground here. Is there anything else you’d like to say? McClenny: As we recover from this pandemic and look at where we are

as a world, and the things we treasure as human beings, it’s the human connection. You can enjoy it from home. You can enjoy it from a small perch. But when we explore, and when we see others, and we experience other places and other people, it makes us better human beings. It makes us more interesting people. It gives us stories to tell. It adds to our personal story or family story, because many of the memories we find ourselves reflecting upon are stories that happen when you’re on vacation with your family that you can laugh about and go back to the pictures or video. If you’re on vacation with someone, you’re going to snap a photo or two, or you’re going to get on social media and share it. Looking at all we do to make the state inviting for business, for pleasure, and for growth, making it a better part of the universe, all of that comes with what we do every day, what you do at VEDP and what we do here at VTC. We’re blessed to be able to share it and to work in this environment. Moret: I certainly feel that same sense of blessing. It’s been a wonderful journey for me so far in Virginia, and a highlight of that has been working with you and your team. Rita, we’re so grateful for the great work that you and your team at VTC do. We’re looking forward to all future collaborations we’re working on, from the outdoor sector of the economy to quality of life, recruiting people to Virginia for remote work opportunities. I’m really excited about that collaborative spirit and the work our respective organizations do to help create a more vibrant Virginia economy. So, thank you for all you do, and thank you for being with us today. McClenny: That’s why Virginia is for lovers. Thank you, Stephen.

For the full interview, visit


Ryan Baker President Monument Consulting, Richmond Spouse: Stephanie Children: Alexandra (8) and Christopher (6)

Ryan Baker moved from Florida to Virginia to advance at his employer, Monument Consulting, where he was named president in 2019. What has surprised you about living in Virginia? The people are some of the friendliest, warmest individuals we have ever encountered and had the pleasure of getting to know and call friends. Describe your family’s ideal day in your community. We love taking visits to many of the parks in the area, particularly Maymont in the spring or fall. Where is the most interesting place you’ve visited since you moved to Virginia? Visiting Church Hill, and seeing St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death,” is pretty cool. What are your hobbies? Cheering on my kids at their many activities and eating at all the wonderful restaurants in the Richmond area. What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your office or kitchen window? The Diamond, the home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels.


food Les Crepes, Richmond


winee win 26

Jean Case Owner Early Mountain Vineyards, Madison County

Jean Case is the founder of Early Mountain Vineyards, a 300-acre winery that has been voted as the top tasting room in the country by USA Today’s readers. She’s also chair of the National Geographic Society and CEO of both the Case Impact Network and Case Foundation, the charitable organization she and her husband, AOL founder Steve Case, founded over 20 years ago. What do you enjoy about living in Virginia? Virginia is home to some of the best vineyards in North America and has excellent food and unparalleled landscapes that take your breath away. Describe your family’s ideal day in your community. Our day would begin by watching the sunrise over our farm, followed by a hike on a local trail. We then would pop into one of our favorite restaurants in the area for lunch (Virginia has exceptional restaurants that no foodie should miss). Later that evening, we would enjoy a nice glass of wine on the patio. How has the landscape/culture of Virginia inspired your work? With more than 350 vineyards and wineries in the state, our unparalleled beauty, terroir, and history make it unlike any other region in the world. We have tasted hundreds of Virginia wines and several winemakers and their vineyards truly stand out in our opinion — several of which we pour alongside Early Mountain wines in the tasting room at the vineyard as part of our Best of Virginia program. What are your hobbies? I am chairman of the National Geographic Society, so my inspiration as a lifelong learner often come from the stories in the magazine or from the amazing adventures of the National Geographic Explorers, who are in the field on the frontlines of innovation and technology across the globe. What is something that you think non-Virginians would be surprised to learn about living in Virginia? Many don’t know that Virginia is the birthplace of wine in the United States.




A FOUR-SEASON DESTINATION, Virginia’s outdoor activities range from cliff to coast, catering to all skill levels. Outdoor recreation opportunities range from leisurely bike rides on multi-use trails to adrenaline-pumping mountain biking routes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, to relaxing floats on rivers and lakes to whitewater adventures on the James River, to epic hikes along awe-inspiring peaks in Shenandoah National Park and short but scenic trails that hikers of every skill level can enjoy.

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains on Virginia’s Route 16 in Tazewell County lies Back of the Dragon — 32 miles of exhilarating winding curves and unparalleled excitement for riders from around the world.


Virginians and visitors interested in exploring the many waterways off the Chesapeake Bay can launch from Deltaville, known as the “Boating Capital of the Chesapeake Bay.�

Stand-up paddleboarding is a popular activity along the New River, which is known for being the oldest river on the North American continent and second only to the Nile River in Africa as the oldest river in the world.


Visitors to High Bridge Trail State Park can hike and bike on the majestic High Bridge, originally built in 1853 as part of the South Side Railroad. The bridge is more than 2,400 feet long and sits 160 feet above the Appomattox River.


in Russell ea Preserve ls Natural Ar me from na The Channe its ts ge ton Counties ng hi as evices W d cr e an sandston e system of ice st the maze-lik la e th g created durin on and boulders e are a rarity ons like thes ny ca ot the in d age. Sl un fo lly ua t and are us the East Coas ates. rn United St Southweste

multi-use l, a 34-mile, Creeper Trai llows an old fo , The Virginia rs ke bi d with hikers an oads in us trail popular vario railr belonged to at th grade ay le f-w right-o 00s. The gent s and early 19 ail fun Tr r pe ee Cr the late 1800 the points make ss il was ce ac tra e sy th and ea ily. In 2014, rs of the fam e. m Fa of for all membe ll rail Ha the Rail-to-T inducted into

t County Park in Scot Tunnel State l ra tu sands of Na ou in th er Tunnel tone ridge ov The Natural ry building. rough a limes to th -s ed 10 a rv ca as tall was naturally long and is as et nter, fe Ce 0 e 85 tiv re e than ss Trail Interp years, is mor ss Road one Wilderne ne Bo er el ild ni W Da e e nt role th Nearby is th t the importa rs learn abou ion. ns where visito pa ex rd erica’s westwa played in Am

Fredericksburg ’s location on the fall line of the Rapp ahannock River offers numerous fishin g opportunities for largemouth ba ss and catfish.

Offering a natur al respite in the D.C. Metro reg in Fairfax Coun ion, visitors to ty can make us Burke Lake Pa e of boating fac rk most heavily fis ilities to access hed reservoirs, one of Virginia’s take a ride on a miniature steam Central Pacific engine that tra Huntington vels on a trail thr fitness trail tha ough the wood t’s been ranked s, or access a as one of the 10 best in the coun try.


Virginia Beach is a beach for peop le of all abilities, boardwalk. Ramp offering access s are available at for travelers to ex each street to tak plore its three-m including beach e visitors from the ile wheelchairs and boardwalk to the mobility scooter sand with options s available for us e.

tional e recrea few of th a t s s of ju ile are rly 200 m boating rses nea king, and ve a ya a tr k h , g ic h r, w fishin ke Bay. ock Rive oarding, hesapea ppahann Paddleb s to the C n the Ra o in s ta ie n it u n o ge M opportu Blue Rid from the Virginia


Hikers who summit Sharp Top and the other Peaks of Otter in Bedford County are rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding Jefferson National Forest.


Rockbridge County gets its name from Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-high natural arch described as “One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the Modern World.�

visitors to The trails are a major draw for Camping, hiking, and ATV erick County, Fred in farm tree ified cert Cove, a privately owned, 0 feet in altitude ranging from 1,000 to 3,00 which spans 3,000 acres ns. in the Appalachian Mountai


Known as the “Playground of the Potomac,� Colonial Beach boasts the second-longest beachfront in the Commonwealth. Its location on the Virginia/Maryland line means if you step one foot into the water, you have left Virginia and entered Maryland.



naturee natur Leland Melvin Astronaut (retired) Lynchburg

Lynchburg native Leland Melvin holds the distinction of being the only NFL draft pick (Detroit Lions, 1986) to have flown in space. He flew two missions on the space shuttle Atlantis and later served as NASA’s associate administrator for education. Describe your ideal day in your community. A bike ride in the woods, a good cup of coffee, and a conversation with local store owners downtown makes for an idyllic day. Where is the most interesting or unusual place you’ve visited in Virginia? Watching the light dance across the mountains at Thunder Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of my favorite things to do. How has the landscape/culture of Virginia inspired your work? The view of mountains from my window gives me great joy and gets my day started in a positive way. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? The power to bring people together to break bread, laugh, and uplift each other.



Selling Scenery WHEN EXECUTIVES at Traditional Medicinals decided to build an East Coast manufacturing and processing operation, they cast a wide net. “We looked at places everywhere from Birmingham, Alabama, up into Pennsylvania,” said Blair Kellison, CEO of the California-based company, the leading seller of wellness teas in the United States. As he visited different areas, Kellison met with economic developers who tended to go on and on about the area’s cost of labor. “We told people right up front, ‘We don’t need to pay anybody any less than they make in California,’” Kellison said. For Kellison and his team, the priority was finding a location that offered the right cultural fit for the company and its employees. When Traditional Medicinals began looking more closely at the Roanoke Region — which includes the counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Franklin, and Roanoke, and the cities of Roanoke, Salem, and Covington — Kellison went to dinner with Beth Doughty, now retired as executive director

38 38

of the Roanoke Regional Partnership (RRP). She brought along Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the RRP and director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation (ROF), an RRP project, who talked up the region’s natural beauty and the community’s commitment to the outdoors. “We just really fell in love,” said Kellison. In January 2020, Traditional Medicinals committed to invest $29.7 million to establish an herbal tea manufacturing and processing operation in the Summit View Business Park in Franklin County. “It was incredibly important that we found a location which embodied our company values,” Kellison said in a statement about the expansion. The Roanoke Region might not have made such a big impression on Traditional Medicinals if the company had come calling a couple of decades earlier. For years after Norfolk & Western Railway moved their headquarters out of Roanoke following a 1982 merger, people continued to hold onto the idea that the city was a railroad town. Roanoke needed a new brand.

McAfee Knob, Roanoke County

It was incredibly important that we found a location which embodied our company values. BLAIR KELLISON President and CEO, Traditional Medicinals


Anthem GO Outside Festival, Roanoke

THE MAKING OF A MOUNTAIN TOWN Around the mid-2000s, RRP’s board began talking about how livability was an increasingly important factor for business executives considering a new location and professionals looking to move. They brainstormed about what attributes set the Star City apart from areas of similar size. To Doughty, the answer was clear: abundant outdoor amenities. The Roanoke Region, after all, is home to the Appalachian Trail (including McAfee Knob in Roanoke County, billed as the Trail’s most photographed spot), the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia’s second-largest lake (Smith Mountain Lake), rivers, and


miles of urban greenway. “We’ve had these assets,” she said, “and we treated them like wallpaper instead of an economic sector.” Doughty wanted to change that. In 2009, RRP hired Eshelman as its first director of outdoor branding. His first responsibility was cataloging information about how to access the region’s outdoor offerings — think where to put in a kayak on the James River in Botetourt County or how to get to McAfee Knob. For the first time, Roanoke created a comprehensive directory of outdoor amenities at Next, the ROF organized a marathon. The

organization set the race, now known as the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, apart by staging it on a mountainous course. “Everybody has a marathon, but ours goes uphill,” Doughty said. The inaugural race was held in 2010 and, according to Doughty, helped to showcase Roanoke’s abundance of outdoor delights. “That was a brand-building event,” she said. The next year, the ROF launched a festival that would eventually become known as the Anthem Roanoke GO Outside Festival (GO Fest). After having a respectable attendance of 4,500 at the inaugural event, the festival has grown each year, with over 35,000 visitors

turning out to try the kayaks in the 50,000-gallon inflatable pool at 2019’s GO Fest. “I would say, in our unscientific poll, that it’s the favorite event of the year in Roanoke,” Doughty said. With many outdoors businesses and organizations setting up booths, the GO Fest showcases the area’s outdoor community. It also serves to introduce novices to the outdoor lifestyle. For Doughty, though, the main payout of the GO Fest is the business it brings to the region. Case in point: Wombat Camper. In 2018, Eshelman invited Brad and Julie Meilak, founders of a new off-road travel trailer business, to exhibit a prototype at the festival. “We had a great time,” Brad Meilak recalled. “We met lots of people and we thought, ‘Roanoke is a pretty cool place.’”

president of branding and development, felt he could see a change in the city over the years. “When we were looking before, they weren’t really celebrating the natural resources around them,” Meadows said. About two and a half years ago, Lisa Cooper, president of Mast General Store, came to Roanoke for a tour. Meadows took her for a run through downtown and on the greenway. “It just felt like a place I wanted to live,” Cooper said. The store opened in June in downtown Roanoke. While she didn’t envision opening a new location in the midst of a pandemic, Cooper is pleased with

business in the Roanoke store.

RECRUITING TOP TALENT Roanoke’s outdoor amenities also help to lure talent to the area. For proof, look to the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion, which currently houses 33 independent research groups with over 200 research and support team members. Michael Friedlander, executive director of the institute, often leans on the area’s natural amenities when trying to recruit the country’s brightest minds. Typically, Friedlander said, the researchers he’s trying to lure live in big cities like San Francisco, Atlanta, or Miami. “It’s a big change coming from a place like that to here,” he admits.

As it happened, at the time the Meilaks attended the GO Fest, they were living outside Philadelphia and trying to figure out where to next hang their hats. They liked the city so much, they decided to make a home there. The couple arrived at the beginning of 2020 and quickly set up a workshop for Wombat Camper, which they plan to launch in 2021. While the GO Fest had to go virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic, Doughty hopes it will return in its usual form in 2021 and again provide an opportunity for the region to make connections with outdoor businesses, “particularly national brands that want to be associated with the event.”

A LONG COURTSHIP Over a decade ago, Lisa Soltis, an economic development specialist for the city of Roanoke, reached out to executives at North Carolina-based regional retailer Mast General Store thinking the Star City’s outdoors amenities might be a good fit for Mast’s offerings, which include old-time hearth and home goods as well as outdoor clothing and gear. The folks at Mast weren’t ready to take the plunge then, but they kept an eye on Roanoke. Jeff Meadows, the store’s vice Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, Roanoke


Anthem GO Outside Festival, Roanoke

When Friedlander moved to Roanoke from Houston a decade ago, Roanoke was the smallest place he’d ever lived. “I had my anxiety about that,” he said. While Roanoke will probably never have the urban amenities found in larger metros, Friedlander tells recruits about what Roanoke can offer that many larger metros can’t: beautiful mountains and abundant green space. “We use that, and it helps a lot,” Friedlander said. “It’s helped us close the deal on lots of people.” The outdoors amenities certainly closed the deal for Carla Williams, an emergency medicine physician who now works at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Three years ago, Williams was finishing up her residency in Chapel Hill, N.C., and she and her husband, Jeffrey Brown, began talking about where they wanted to live next. “We really enjoy mountain biking and being outside,” Williams said. “So we started looking at job availabilities and places we know in the mountains that had really good trail opportunities.” Asheville, N.C., was at the top of the list until a friend wrote Williams to talk up Roanoke and its burgeoning biking scene. At the time, Carilion didn’t have any jobs listed in her field, but Williams sent her résumé to the physician recruiter, who quickly set up an interview. While Williams was meeting with the hiring team at Carilion, another doctor offered to take her mountain biking the next day. Williams and her husband loved the trails they rode. When Carilion made an offer, she said yes. Now, in Roanoke, Williams and Brown pedal nonstop. “I bike every day, and on my off days, or at least a lot of them, we plan some fun adventures,” Williams said. “I’m really happy here.”




Ashwin Kopparthi Senior Manager, Customer Experience Center CarMax, Goochland County Spouse: Suraya Children: Alaina (21), Ali (19), Aahad (9)

Ashwin Kopparthi moved from Arizona to Greater Richmond for a job opportunity at the home office of his employer, CarMax. What has surprised you about living in Virginia? Folks are extremely kind, warm, and inviting. We love the Southern charm! Describe your family’s ideal day in the community. We can’t get enough of the gorgeous views everywhere. We enjoy going for walks as a family — in fact, we recently bought a pet stroller so our 10-year-old cat could join us! It’s been a blast and hilarious, didn’t think we would ever have a pet stroller! If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? I would have super-speed as a power. Does your family have a “motto” – spoken or unspoken? “Kindness matters.” What current trend (from COVID-19) do you hope will go on for a long time? While I have spent most of my time still going to work, I have enjoyed having the ability to work from home.



MORE THAN MAIN STREET ONE OF THE GREAT DRAWS of Virginia is simply that it’s a wonderful place to live, with Forbes ranking the Commonwealth No. 1 for quality of life in its “Best States for Business” rankings. From major cities to tiny hamlets, Virginia offers something for just about everyone’s lifestyle.

Alexandria The Alexandria waterfront has been a bustling seaport since colonial times. Visitors can enjoy boat cruises, waterfront dining, or just enjoy the views of the Potomac River and Washington, D.C.


The city of Lexington in the Shenandoah Val ley is known for histori tourism, as well as the cal two colleges located in the city — Virginia Institute and Washingt Military on and Lee University . With red brick sidew historic architecture, alks and the downtown core loo ks much as it did in the 1860s.



n Mall in The eight-block Downtow g, dining, and ppin sho rs offe ille tesv Charlot a car-free setting entertainment options in experience first. ian estr ped the puts that



Arlington 48

Visible to travelers pas sing by on Interstate 95, the ornate clock tower at Richmond’s Main Str eet Station has served as a welco me to the city since 1901.

n its “Best Niche has named Arlingto three times City to Live in America” ng to its in the last five years, owi e of its own amenities and thos D.C. ton, hing Was t, eas the suburb to

Norfolk Norfolk’s Waterside district on the Elizabeth River boasts convenient access to the city’s downtown, a marketplace with shops and restaurants, the Nauticus naval museum, and Harbor Park, home of the Norfolk Tides.


John Brown Housing Case Manager New Hope Housing, Fairfax County Partner: TaQuan

John Brown moved to Virginia from South Carolina for a job opportunity at New Hope Housing in Fairfax County. He lives in Arlington with his rottweiler, Nala. Having lived in Northern Virginia for less than a year, he’s working on familiarizing himself with his new surroundings. What made you decide to make the move to Virginia? A friend shared this job they thought I would be a great fit for and would allow me to be closer to my partner, TaQuan. I saw it as an opportunity for change and wanted to be with someone I could grow with in a relationship. Where is the most interesting place you’ve visited since you moved to Virginia? The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is by far the best. The view is amazing, and it’s very peaceful. What are your hobbies? I love traveling and seeing new things. Anything quick where I can see something new is my joy. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? The power to go back into time and go into the future. What outdoor activity have you not tried, but would like to? Hot-air ballooning. I have been doing some looking!




The “concrete fleet� at Kiptopeke State Park in Northampton County is made up of nine World War II-era concrete ships, strategically placed in the Chesapeake Bay to protect a nearby pier and beach. The ships are all named after pioneers in science and the development of concrete.




Blue Ridge Parkway, Roanoke County

biking 54

Lindsey Moore Associate Attorney Woods Rogers PLC, Roanoke Spouse: Jack

Lindsey Moore moved from Georgia to Roanoke so that her husband could take over his family’s business. The couple enjoys the outdoor lifestyle Roanoke offers, especially biking on the Blue Ridge Parkway. What has surprised you about living in Virginia? Virginia has so many great outdoor activities to offer! The landscapes are beautiful, and there is so much great hiking and biking available. Describe your family’s ideal day in your community. Our ideal day consists of road biking on the Blue Ridge Parkway, then visiting a local restaurant for lunch. We also enjoy taking walks in our neighborhood. Where is the most interesting place you’ve visited since you moved to Virginia? The most interesting place we have visited in Virginia is the Barboursville area. We fell in love with the rolling hills, vineyards, and the Market at Grelen. What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your office or kitchen window? A family of deer live in our neighborhood and I can usually see them frolicking in our yard when standing at my kitchen window.


Amy Black President Amy Black Tattoos, Richmond

Ohio native Amy Black moved to Richmond in 1998 and began tattooing the next year. She’s since gotten involved in a lesserknown field of tattooing — nipple and areola repigmentation, in which she helps cancer survivors who have had mastectomies with the breast reconstruction process by recreating human anatomy in ink. She also founded the Pink Ink fund to help clients afford the procedure. What do you enjoy about living in Virginia? I love Virginia’s eclectic landscapes and cities. In two hours, you can be in the bustling metropolis of D.C., historic areas like Williamsburg, mid-sized urban meccas like Richmond, the mountains of the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the waves of Virginia Beach. Where is the most interesting or unusual place you’ve visited in Virginia? The western part of Virginia has a lot of interesting places. The Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful in the fall, and there are several waterfalls dotted around Virginia if people like to hike. How has the landscape/culture of Virginia inspired your work? The culture of Virginia, Richmond in particular, has been an amazing place to found my business and my charity and continue to grow as an artist and person. The room to breathe and not have to deal with gridlock traffic or high living expenses has been the perfect environment for me. I can have as much or as little alone time as needed, and have access to outside influences for food, art, and culture if need be. What is something that you think nonVirginians would be surprised to learn about living in Virginia? How it can be both international and local all within one state.



The American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton is the world’s only recreation of William Shakespeare’s indoor theater.


ARTS AND CULTURE VIRGINIA’S CITIES boast visual and performing arts institutions that gain context from the Commonwealth’s rich history. But the rich arts culture in Virginia isn’t limited to its urban areas — arts enthusiasts can enjoy institutions like the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, which got its name from the policy of allowing people to trade farm goods for tickets. From artisan craft work to the performing arts, Virginia’s arts scene showcases the brilliant creative talents that come out of the Commonwealth. Virginia also hosts a lively festival calendar, with celebrations occurring throughout the year in all corners of the state.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Perfo rming Arts was established in 1966 and remains the on ly United States national park dedica ted to presenting the performing art The venue hosts mo s. re than 100 perfor mances across all genres every sum mer.

Road — Virginia’s a stop on The Crooked The Floyd Country Store, uring bluegrass and feat cert con ts a regular Heritage Music Trail, hos Jamboree. music, the Friday Night authentic Appalachian


Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams launched the SOMETHING IN THE WATER music festival in his hometown. The star-studded inaugural lineup in 2019 included Virginia artists Missy Elliott, Dave Matthews Band, Pusha T, Teddy Riley, and Pharrell himself.

Natural Chimneys Regional Park and Campground, which features striking limestone formations that tower as much as 120 feet above the ground, is the site for the Red Wing Roots Music Festival, which offers recreational opportunities in addition to performers that have included Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Robert Earl Keen in recent years.


The LOCKN’ Festival is an annual celebration of world-class music, local vendors, and community engagement held on Infinity Downs Farm amidst the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tom Petty, Robert Plant, Phish, Carlos Santana, My Morning Jacket, Ween, Wilco, Zac Brown Band, Willie Nelson, Phil Lesh, and more have performed at LOCKN’.

Known as the Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol hosts the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, drawing more than 50,000 attendees across three days. The city is also home to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Richmond Folk Festival draws more than 200,000 people annually to Richmond’s riverfront to celebrate the roots, richness, and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional crafts, storytelling, and food.


The collection at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk spans 5,000 years of human history and includes such luminaries as Édouard Manet, Paul CÊzanne, Auguste Rodin, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock. The museum is also known for its glass collection and glass studio, which offers programming for aspiring and master artists in a variety of processes including glassblowing, fusing, flameworking, coldworking, and neon.


Indigenous Native Americans have lived in Virginia for more than 12,000 years. The Commonwealth has 11 recognized tribes: the Cheroenhaka, Chickahominy, Chickahominy Eastern Division, Mattaponi, Monacan, Nansemond, Nottoway, Pamunkey, Patawomeck, Rappahannock, and Upper Mattaponi.

The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia in Richmond celebrates the rich culture and moving histories of African American people in Virginia and their contributions to U.S. history. Pictured is a modernized replica of the Emancipation Oak, which stands near the entrance of Hampton University.


The Torpedo Factory Art Center, housed in a World War II naval munitions factory on the banks of the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria, features the largest number of publicly accessible working artist studios under one roof in the United States.

Smithfield in Isle of Wight County is home to the country’s largest collection of bronze statues by acclaimed sculptor George Lundeen. The charming downtown also houses historic architecture, antique shops, and opportunities to sample world-famous Smithfield ham.

Each year, the Neptune Festival at the Virginia Beach oceanfront hosts the International Sand Sculpting Championship, which features a field of sculptors from around the world. The festival draws an estimated 400,000 visitors per year.


The striking Taubman Museum of Art in dow ntown Roanoke, designed by the renowned archite ct Randall Stout, opened in 2008 and holds mo re than 2,000 works of art in its permanent col lection. Pictured is “Self Portrai t” by Paul Villinski.

to es Square before moving Originally exhibited in Tim Museum of Fine inia Virg the at e hom its permanent s d, Kehinde Wiley’s “Rumor Arts (VMFA) in Richmon directly engage to st arti the by d nde of War” is inte n around monuments and the national conversatio incomplete histories and ting etua their role in perp est comprehensive art inequality. One of the larg is open 365 days a year FA VM ., U.S museums in the is free. and general admission


Luray Caverns in Page County is billed as the largest cave complex in the eastern United States. Visitors to the caverns can even get a musical treat from the Great Stalacpipe Organ, billed as the largest musical instrument in the world. The sounds are produced by rubber mallets striking stalactites of varying lengths and thicknesses.




Ryan Croxton Co-Owner Rappahannock Oyster Co., Middlesex County

In addition to Rappahannock Oyster Co., cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton are co-owners of four restaurants in Virginia and one each in California and South Carolina. They have been honored with Food & Wine’s Tastemaker Award and named to Southern Living’s “People Who Are Changing the South” list. Describe your family’s ideal day in your community. If we can get to the river (in our case, that always means the Rappahannock), that’s bliss. What is the most interesting or unusual place you’ve visited in Virginia? I love to geek out over the fossils (e.g. shark teeth, cypress knees, scallop shells) that I find in and along the ancient escarpments of the Rappahannock. How has the landscape/culture of Virginia inspired your work? Growing up in a seafood family, I never imagined continuing that tradition. I never imagined being lucky enough to do what I do.

oysteer oyst


Travis Croxton Co-Owner Rappahannock Oyster Co., Middlesex County What do you enjoy about living in Virginia? Virginia has everything — oceans, rivers, mountains, valleys. As someone who travels all the time, I love being able to experience all the different vistas Virginia has to offer. How has the landscape/culture of Virginia inspired your work? We are oyster farmers, but we are inspired by other farmers across Virginia. Our restaurants give us an ability to not only showcase our products that we grow, but to give exposure to other great farmers in the state from different areas whether it’s shepherds or grape cultivators. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? The ability to eat whatever I want and not gain weight. What is something that you think non-Virginians would be surprised to learn about living in Virginia? That Virginia has something for everyone. It’s more diverse than is given credit for.


Dr. Jacqueline Gill Powell President Danville Community College Spouse: Terry Children: Miosha (30), Dominique (27), Alexis (25), Jeremiah (18)

Dr. Jacqueline Gill Powell began her tenure as president of Danville Community College in July 2019. She has worked in higher education for more than 20 years, most recently as president of Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Mo. What has surprised you about living in Virginia? The low cost of living, the access to a variety of activities — beach, mountains, lakes, hiking — and the mix of rural and urban areas. Describe your ideal day in your community. Enjoying the company of our neighbors. Our neighborhood just had a Halloween event with several hundred children. I met many more of my neighbors during this time, and they all were so friendly and welcoming. Where is the most interesting place you’ve visited since you moved to Virginia? The Virginia State Capitol Building. What are your hobbies? Traveling — cruising in particular if that comes back. What outdoor activity have you not tried, but would like to? Jet skiing.



beach 71


Gayle Jessup White Public Relations & Community Engagement Officer Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Albemarle County

Gayle Jessup White is a descendent of President Thomas Jefferson, as well as the Hemings family of enslaved people at Jefferson’s estate, Monticello. As public relations and community engagement officer at Monticello, she focuses on telling Jefferson’s story as well as the stories of the 607 enslaved people who lived and worked there. As she puts it, “Monticello is more than my employer…it’s my ancestral home.” What do you enjoy about living in Virginia? Virginia has boundless beauty, history, and culture. There are the mountains to the west and the beach to the east. For museum lovers, there are world-class institutions. For foodies, there are great restaurants. For live show lovers, there are repertory theaters. For music lovers, there are fantastic jazz festivals. For history lovers, there are the homes or libraries of seven United States presidents! Where is the most interesting or unusual place you’ve visited in Virginia? Monticello. Even if it were not my ancestral home, I would be awed by its elegance. The Blue Ridge mountain setting never ceases to take my breath away. How has the landscape/culture of Virginia inspired your work? As a descendent of the enslaved — and, arguably, the world’s most famous slave owner, Thomas Jefferson — my work at Monticello is inextricably intertwined with my family’s legacy. I am acutely aware as I walk the dirt path along Monticello’s Mulberry Row or enter the hall of the mansion, that I am walking in my ancestors’ footsteps. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? Do superheroes time travel? If they do, that’s the power I would have.



FEW STATES CAN MATCH the breadth and depth of history that Virginia can claim, dating back to the early 17th century and the establishment of the Colony of Virginia. History buffs can stand on spots where the country was forged and re-forged in the colonial era, the American Revolution, and the Civil War, and pay respect to the U.S. Armed Forces at Arlington National Cemetery and the National Museum of the Marine Corps. One can even walk in the footsteps of numerous Founding Fathers, with the historic homes of four of the first five presidents located in the Commonwealth. 74

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello was the home of the third president from 1794 until his death in 1826. Monticello is recognized as a National Historic Landmark, a United Nations World Heritage Site, and a Site of Conscience. Today, using the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s extensive research and knowledge, staff members aim to facilitate conversations on a variety of topics including liberty, self-government, and the legacies of slavery (see page 72).

Dating to 1665, Bacon’s Castle in Surry County is the oldest documented brick dwelling in the United States. It earned the moniker “Bacon’s Castle” in 1676, when several of Nathaniel Bacon’s men occupied the home during the uprising that became known as Bacon’s Rebellion. Each year, in recognition of Guy Fawkes Day, Preservation Virginia hosts a celebration complete with the most ubiquitous symbol of the day, a bonfire.


Founded in 1632, Williamsburg served as Virginia’s capital from 1699 to 1780. The restored Colonial Williamsburg, the largest outdoor living museum in the country, allows visitors to experience what life was like in 18th-century America.

Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, the first president of the United States, and his wife, Martha, sits on the shores of the Potomac River in Fairfax County. The historic estate offers an authentically interpreted 18th-century home, lush gardens and grounds, museum galleries, and immersive programs that tell the story of Washington’s life.

President George Washington spent most of his childhood at Ferry Farm in Stafford County outside Fredericksburg. The farm is the site of an ongoing archaeological excavation of Washington’s boyhood home which began in 2003. In 2018, a reconstruction of the Washington House, leaning on decades’ worth of archaeological and historical research, was completed and opened for tours.


Near the original colony of Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement tells the story of the first permanent English settlement in North America. Visitors to the museum can explore recreations of the ships that set sail from London on Dec. 20, 1606 — the Discovery, the Godspeed, and the Susan Constant.


The Lockheed Constellation “Columbine II” was the first presidential aircraft to use the call sign “Air Force One.” The plane languished in the Arizona desert for nearly 20 years before being acquired and restored by Rockingham County aviation company Dynamic Aviation in 2016.

The spires of the United States Air Force Memorial in Arlington County are meant to evoke the image of contrails from Air Force Thunderbirds.


The National Museum of the United States Army opened in November at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County. Its exhibits preserve Army history and honor the sacrifices of American soldiers.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps, in Prince William County near Marine Corps Base Quantico, was designed to resemble the iconic photograph of Marines planting an American flag at Iwo Jima during World War II. The museum provides the public with a readily accessible platform for the exploration of Marine Corps history.

American service members have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery since the Civil War. Notable memorials include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame marking the grave of President John F. Kennedy.


Inspired by Mount Rushmore, Presidents Park opened in 2004 and allowed visitors to walk among 20-foot tall busts of the presidents while learning more about them. The park closed in 2010 and the busts were relocated to a private farm in James City County, where they await their next move but remain available for visits from sightseers.





Chris McHugh Vice President of Operations Cadence Inc., Staunton Spouse: Jody Children: Maximus (18), Ian (17), Ava (14), Finnian (9), Titus (7), Jude Cephas (5)

Chris McHugh’s family of eight lived in Virginia before moving to Wisconsin in 2016, but they always had an eye on returning to the Commonwealth. That opportunity came in 2019, when Chris accepted a position as vice president of operations at Cadence Inc. in Staunton. What made your family decide to make the move to Virginia? The Shenandoah Valley is a great area to work and raise a family. The people are friendly, crime is low, the weather is ideal, and it is a great area for outdoor activities. Describe your family’s ideal day in your community. Ideally, we start our day attending mass at our parish, followed by a family hike into the Blue Ridge off the Parkway to take in some waterfalls and awesome mountain overlooks. Lastly, end the day at one of the downtown restaurants in Staunton or Charlottesville for great food and always-excellent local brews. What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your office or kitchen window? I work remotely, so I look out of my study window when I’m home. I see deer and squirrels daily and have also seen a pileated woodpecker. What current trend (from COVID-19) do you hope will go on for a long time? People have spent more time at home with their families. I hope it has fostered better relationships and perhaps better work life balance. No one ever wrote on their tombstone, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”



y, Virginia’s esapeake Ba ads by the Ch Ro de variety of on wi pt a m with m bustling Ha n experience tio ca va te Separated fro ore seda laxation. e offers a m just simple re Eastern Shor rtunities — or po op n tio water recrea

Lovers of the “Harry Potter” series will enjoy the Queen City Mis chief and Magic festival in Staunton , although the event was virtual in 202 0, or “The Year That Shall Not Be Nam ed.”

l in rrock festiva r of n Energy Rive every membe The Dominio r fo es iti tiv n ac fu al rs nu fe an of e d . Th Richmon e on four legs cluding thos in , ic ily us m m fa e e th orts and liv of outdoor sp bouldering, celebration king, biking, ya ka g, in nn ru il tra ng. es pi ur m at ju fe , and dog ddleboarding stand-up pa


In 2018, Money magazine named Reston as the Best Place to Live in Virginia in large part because of the recreational opportunities offered in the Fairfax County community, including winter ice skating at Reston Town Center, a destination for shopping, dinin g, and special events.

Winchester has been called the “Apple Capital.” Many of the area’s orchards are open for public picking, allowing families to get their apples right from the tree. Winchester is known for its annual spring event, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which draws crowds in excess of 250,000 each year.



VIRGINIA’S TOP-NOTCH public school system (best in the South and fourth-best in the country, according to SmartAsset) is just one reason why Virginia is a great state for families. The Commonwealth is rich with attractions, opportunities, and events for all members of the family. 85

Thrill seekers looking for big drops can visit Kings Dominion in Hanover County, where the Intimidator 305, the ninth-tallest roller coaster in the world, can be found.

When it opened, Grommet Island Park on the Virginia Beach oceanfront was the first 100% accessible oceanfront park in the United States, with wheelchair-accessible entrances and playground equipment designed to accommodate all users.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a 10-time honoree on Amusement Today’s “Best Park” list. Its areas are themed around different countries: England, France, French Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland.



LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY! VIRGINIA IS RICH in high-level spectator sports, with two active NASCAR tracks (and a third just across the Tennessee border in Bristol), close proximity to Washington, D.C.’s sports teams, and 14 Division I colleges and universities, including the reigning NCAA men’s basketball champions at the University of Virginia. It’s even more loaded with participatory sports, with world-class golf courses across the Commonwealth, several ski resorts in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and aquatic recreation opportunities on lakes, rivers, and more than 7,000 miles of coastline.


100 Courses You Can ine as one of the “Top Ranked by GOLF Magaz County showcases rick Pat in rse at Primland Play,” the Highland Cou every turn. mountainous views at the resort’s breathtaking

The Omni Homestead Resort in Bath County hosts two 18-hole golf courses. The hotel’s Cascades Course inspired local native and golf legend Sam Snead to once say, “If I could only play one course, this would be it.”


King Family Vineyards in Albemarle County — a stop on the Monticello Wine Trail, which consists of more than 30 wineries within easy access of Charlottesville — plays host to the Roseland Polo matches each summer.

The Commonwealth Games, held each year in Lynchburg and the surrounding area, offer sports competition venues for nearly 10,000 athletes in more than 50 different Olympic and Pan American sports.


The James River is a popular destination for water activities, particularly near the fall line, which passes through downtown Richmond. The rapids there are billed as the only urban Class III-IV rapids in the United States.

Recently chosen as one of Car and Driver Magazine’s top six road courses in the nation, VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) in Halifax County hosts events from numerous auto racing series on its six track configurations. Each year, VIR draws tens of thousands of spectators for some of the best road racing in the country at one of America’s only “motorsport resorts.”

Martinsville Speedway is the only track which has hosted NASCAR Cup Series races every year since the division’s inception in 1949. At just over half a mile in length, the speedway is the shortest track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit and offers some of the most exciting, close-quarters racing in the sport.



Making AI Serve Us All A Conversation With Kevin Scott Kevin Scott is chief technology officer and executive vice president, technology and research, at Microsoft, and the author of the 2020 book “Reprogramming the American Dream: From Rural America to Silicon Valley — Making AI Serve Us All,” which discusses how artificial intelligence can promote growth and benefit all of society. VEDP President and CEO Stephen Moret spoke with Scott about his journey from rural Virginia to one of the biggest tech companies in the world and how artificial intelligence is poised to transform the U.S. economy. Stephen Moret: Tell us about your journey from rural Virginia into the tech world. How did a kid from Campbell County end up as the CTO of Microsoft? Kevin Scott: I was born and raised in rural Central Virginia, in this tiny little town called Gladys in Campbell County. My family — my dad, my grandfather, my great-grandfather — were all in construction on my father’s side. On my mother’s side, my grandfather had been a farmer until a farming accident disrupted that career path for him, then he became an appliance repairman and ran his own business in this tiny little town called Brookneal.

I was, I guess, sort of lucky to be born with this intense curiosity about the world and how things work. If such things are inherited, I would have inherited it from many members of my family, but probably most notably my grandfather, Shorty Tibbs, who was a tinkerer his entire life. I had this curiosity. Then I had parents who encouraged and appreciated the curiosity. Even though they didn’t understand all the things I was investigating or curious about at any point in time, they, whenever they could, tried to help. So, I think I was extraordinarily lucky to have that. We should never take that sort of support for granted. I think it’s



just really scary sometimes, taking these big risks you have to take, to figure out whether or not this thing you’re interested in is interesting to other people or that it’s going to be useful, or that there’s an opportunity there. I’m just eternally grateful to all of the people in my family who were there to support all of what, to them, must have seemed silly and risky and crazy things that I wanted to do. Moret: One of the themes in your book has to do with this widespread fear that many have in the United States of artificial intelligence killing jobs. Various studies have cited a certain percentage of jobs could go away within 10 or 20 years as a result of AI. You have a more hopeful outlook, I think, on that potential impact. Can you elaborate on how you think AI could evolve in a way that could actually enable job growth, innovation, and creativity in the United States? Scott: Almost any technology we’ve ever invented that ends up having major impact and becoming ubiquitous in our lives starts off seeming a little bit scary. In many cases, there’s specific anxiety around technologies causing disruptions in jobs. My favorite example is the steam engine, which, in the late 18th century, was the first real mechanical substitute for human labor. When steam engines were deployed in factories and became part of the means of production, they radically transformed the economy. It did a ton of good, but it was disruptive for jobs. In the early days of the technology, the benefits accrued to society because they had more ubiquitous, cheap manufactured goods than they had before. The benefits also accrued to folks with capital and folks with expertise. So, if you had enough money, you could invest in these expensive steam engines and build business concerns around them. If you were an expert, you could earn a really good living and create


profitable businesses for yourself by designing and operating these machines as a means of production. We’re constantly, as a society, faced with these problems that, on the surface, look like zero-sum games. Some of the challenges today in health care and climate change look very, very challenging to solve. But if you can turn a zero-sum game into a non-zero-sum one — where you don’t have the same constraints, where you can also think about expanding resources, creating abundance that didn’t exist before, relaxing constraints — then you can have a lot more flexibility in how you solve problems. I think what we’re already seeing is some of those predictions made a few years ago that were very dire in the sense that so many jobs were going to get disrupted so quickly, were not as accurate as we thought they were going to be. A huge number of people will be able to pick up these tools and to use them to create new businesses, which will have benefits not just for the business creators, but for folks in their communities, employees, and the people who are benefiting from the things they create. One of the things I want to be able to do in the role I’m playing right now is to try to make sure that these sophisticated technologies are packaged as platforms where other people can use them. I don’t think we’re going to get the full benefit from them if just a small number of people in very big tech companies that sit in coastal innovation centers are the ones who must have all of the imagination for what good the technology can do. Moret: One of the stories you told in the book that really stuck with me started with your great-grandmother, who was born in 1898 and lived to 1997. In her life, she saw three big technological changes: ubiquitous electricity, ubiquitous

refrigeration, and television. You use those to talk about what it means to be a platform technology with the potential to generate profound economic transformations across multiple industry sectors. Can you elaborate on what you mean by that term, as well as why AI fits in that category? Scott: Electricity is a platform technology that has these self-reinforcing feedback loops. The technologies you build on top of electricity improve our ability to produce more energy. After the development of electric power distribution and its ubiquitous availability, we eventually invented digital computing. Digital computing as a platform lets us do things like design solar panels and better electric power generation facilities. It allows us to manage the loads on the electric power grid to better match consumption to production, or production to consumption. The availability of technology makes the technology itself better. I would encourage people to not think about AI as one thing. It’s not the Terminator from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. AI is really a very broad collection of technologies that are being used already to power things in every part of our lives. It has this self-reinforcing feedback loop in that the more we use AI, the better AI becomes, because AI benefits from having large amounts of data and large numbers of interactions. I think AI is going to be the 21st century’s equivalent of electricity. It will be the most important platform technology we invent this century. Moret: To me, the third big focus of the book is the potential for AI to be a key tool in enabling revitalization and economic opportunity in rural America. Could you lay out what you see as the key foundational elements of the rural growth agenda — for not just rural Virginia, but for America as well, and where AI could play into that?


Almost any technology we’ve ever invented that ends up having major impact and becoming ubiquitous in our lives starts off seeming a little bit scary. KEVIN SCOTT Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President, Technology and Research, Microsoft



Scott: I’ll start by telling a story to illustrate how accessible AI technology has become. Prior to joining Google, I wasn’t a machine learning expert at all. When I got to Google, I had the opportunity to work on this project in the ads technologies systems that required me to do a whole bunch of machine learning. When I started work on this project, I spent a couple of months reading a bunch of very complicated, daunting, graduatelevel textbooks on statistical machine learning, going through stacks of papers, and coming up a very steep learning curve. Then I spent six months writing a whole bunch of super-complicated code to solve this problem. We fast-forward 16 years to today. This thing I did — because of open-source software and cloud computing platforms and all the knowledge and training tools that are available to anyone, for free, online — I think a motivated high school student could have done that entire project in a couple of days. The more accessible these tools are, the more people in any community anywhere are going to be able to pick them up and solve problems that only they can imagine. Moret: When you talk about rural development, you do highlight a few key programmatic and policy things that need to happen to enable this potential to be fulfilled. Can you touch on those? Scott: When venture capital goes hunting for good businesses and good entrepreneurs in other parts of the country, there are good returns to be had. I think there’s a role for government to play in incenting some of that investment just so that we can get momentum and investment into those communities, after which we’ll absolutely see the returns and the benefits. In order for these communities to be able to connect with their digital future, they actually have to be able to connect to the internet. You can’t run a modern, technology-heavy business when your business and your employees don’t have


great broadband connectivity. There are also some education things we have to do, partly about just making sure that role models exist for kids. The three businesses that were big in my community when I was growing up were tobacco farming, furniture manufacturing, and textiles. When you looked around and saw who had good jobs and who had opportunities, they were the people who had work in those three industries. There’s no reason whatsoever that a rural kid can’t have a beautiful career in technology and, increasingly, a beautiful career in technology where they don’t have to leave their community and their family. But we need to do a better job of showing kids how. Moret: One of the things we’ve been excited about in Virginia is that Microsoft has been a leader here in rural development. We’ve had a very long and positive relationship with Microsoft in the Commonwealth. I wonder if you could talk a bit about Microsoft’s presence in Southern Virginia. Scott: It’s one of the most sophisticated pieces of technology anywhere on the planet. We’ve created hundreds of very high-skill jobs in the Boydton Data Center. One of the interesting things I think you see is that these high-skill, highwage jobs have a network effect inside the communities they’re in. They produce more jobs than just the jobs themselves. There’s this really great book I would encourage everyone to read, by a Berkeley economist, Enrico Moretti, called “The New Geography of Jobs.” He describes this phenomenon where an engineering job in this data center is probably going to produce three, four, or five other jobs, just in terms of the economic halo effect it produces as you have these high-wage earners in these communities. A small community like Boydton can have a big job creator, like the data center, which then results in this gravitational


I think AI is going to be the 21st century’s equivalent of electricity. It will be the most important platform technology we invent this century. KEVIN SCOTT Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President, Technology and Research, Microsoft

field that attracts technical people into the area, which results in more auxiliary businesses that have their own jobs. It’s easier now than it ever has been to create businesses that can serve global customers anywhere. Moret: In your book, you said, “Whether it’s health care or a combination of health care and other grand challenges, we already possess the mechanisms to fund an AI Apollo program.” Can you elaborate on what your vision is there, what it would cost, and what you think the potential outcomes would be for economic competitiveness and growth and opportunity in the U.S.? Scott: The reason I mentioned the Apollo program is that we didn’t need to go to the moon. The beautiful thing about the Apollo program is that it created this single galvanizing vision for what human innovation could accomplish and this big, hairy, audacious goal that we could collectively go after. The goal itself is a little bit arbitrary, but the things we needed to do to accomplish the goal, the mission, were very, very strategic. Basically, our modern aerospace industry was born out of the space race, the Apollo program, and the investments we made in going to the moon. We actually could do something even better than the Apollo program right now, because we have a bunch of very important problems that we could go solve. My favorite one is health care. Climate change is another interesting one where, in order to turn this from a

zero-sum problem, we’re going to need to invent a whole bunch of technology that can make our carbon emissions much lower, as well as a whole bunch of new technologies we have to develop to get carbon out of the atmosphere. AI is a very, very important component in solving those problems, as well. So, you can pick your moonshot here. In going after either of those moonshots, you solve a big, important problem for society, but you also produce an entire ecosystem that’s probably going to produce even more economic benefits. Moret: Kevin, what a pleasure this has been. I just want to end by saying thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you for all you’ve done to advance technology and AI, and what you’re going to do in the future. Thank you especially for all you’ve done to support development in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We’re really proud that you’re from here, and hope we’ll be able to maintain a close relationship in the years ahead. Scott: Thank you for what you’re doing, as well. I still consider Virginia my home. I think it’s one of the most beautiful and special places on the planet. So, I’m glad to know that you’re there working so hard on creating opportunity for Virginians, and for the Commonwealth, for a great future.

For the full interview, visit


The Virginia Beer Company, Williamsburg







The Virginia Beer Company Makes Export Inroads

Building a community around the love of good beer has been a central part of the philosophy behind The Virginia Beer Company, LLC (VBC) since it opened in York County near Williamsburg in 2016. “We always envisioned our taproom as a community gathering place,” said Chris Smith, VBC co-founder and managing member. That focus on creating an inviting space where people could gather has guided the company’s direction over four years as a key part of VBC’s motto, “Beer, People, Purpose.”



SINCE ITS FOUNDING, however, Smith

and co-founder Robby Willey have had another purpose: to secure a percentage of VBC sales through exports. In a competitive local market, VBC looked to the export market as a way to differentiate itself from its peers. That goal was made easier by the overseas market’s demonstrated thirst for U.S.brewed craft beer. “U.S. craft beer has advantages in export markets due to the fact that craft breweries in this country were the first movers that set the stage for the entire global craft beer movement,” Smith explained. “U.S. craft breweries still drive the trends and tend to hold a lot of mystique for foreign consumers. Many of the export markets have rising craft beer scenes, but none of them have managed


The Virginia Beer Company, Williamsburg

to equal the success and overall quality of the U.S. craft beer scene.” While some craft beer drinkers express a fierce loyalty for their local brews, others fall into what Texas Tech University researchers called, in a 2018 paper “Craft Beer Consumers’ Lifestyles and Perceptions of Locality,” an “Adventurers” lifestyle. These novelty-seekers constitute the largest group of craft beer consumers and drive global sales for a product that carries a cultural component characterized by a shared exploration of taste. It’s this customer to whom VBC appeals in Virginia and abroad, with flavors like Liquid Escape, infused with lemongrass and sea salt and billed as the “perfect companion” for a great escape. The company aims to position its products as a go-to choice for taste lovers and adventure seekers.

Overseas Adventurers, it turns out, present both an opportunity and a challenge. To satisfy these drinkers, exporters first have to get new tastes to new markets. The next step is to become a part of the local craft beer culture by building a community in the beer producer’s target markets.

REDEFINING QUALITY The VBC team was ready to dive headlong into the export business when they met the professionals with VEDP and the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (VDACS), who identified a hurdle VBC needed to overcome before moving into export. Smith and Willey discovered that while product quality was great when the beer was fresh, it wasn’t ready to withstand the rigors of international travel.


Armed with this logistical insight, VBC invested in additional lab equipment and made a commitment to prepare for export. Two years later, the team was ready to test this knowledge at the Craft Beer Rising festival in London, which they attended with support from VDACS and a Virginia State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant that funded their travel. The festival was a success, and a launching pad into the United Kingdom market.

States, closing restaurants and other gathering places and driving down local beer sales, some global markets were beginning to reopen. VBC’s diversification across a range of countries proved tremendously beneficial to the company. Whereas export sales would normally make up approximately 4% to 5% of the company’s overall sales, in 2020 that percentage will edge closer to 10% to 12%.

“Getting a small bit of our beer to London for the event was our first test of the logistics of export and how our beer would taste two months later, after all the travel,” Smith said.

Competition may be growing in the expanding state beer market, but the players in this industry recognize that global recognition of quality Virginia craft beer is good for everyone. As a case in point, when VDACS planted the seed with U.K.-based beer subscription service Beer52 for a Virginia-themed beer box, four breweries gained a foothold in the tough-to-crack U.K. market. In early

A GLOBAL COMMUNITY In recent years, VBC has hosted importers from the Netherlands, France, and South Korea, with support from VDACS in some cases, coming to tour its facility and develop relationships so critical for sales in the craft beer industry.


2020, three 40-foot containers filled with VBC’s Saving Daylight, along with product from three other breweries, helped establish a U.K. presence for Virginia beers. Today, VBC is working to enter the South Korea market, with some help from what, in other industries, might be considered a competitor. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond sells its beer in South Korea. When they hosted one of their importer’s representatives at their brewery earlier this year, they brought him to Williamsburg to meet the VBC team. “Businesses don’t really do that,” Smith said. “But in craft beer, that’s kind of the norm.”

“There’s a lot of trust involved in export,” Smith said. “We receive contacts all the time from people we’ve never met or heard of, and it’s hard to say, ‘Sure, we’ll send you this beer we put our name on and trust that you’ll treat it correctly and that you’ll pay us.’ That face-to-face interaction is huge.” With STEP grants to support its travel and marketing, VBC has traveled to a broader range of export markets and carried with it the U.S. craft beer culture that entices overseas enthusiasts. In November 2019, the company attended the American Craft Beer Experience festival in Tokyo and discovered just how far its Liquid Escapeloving community extended. “They were so thankful that we had taken the time to come visit them,” Smith recalls. “Showing up in the market shows that you’re committed to the retailers and consumers.” This work to prepare for export has paid off in unexpected ways. By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United

The Virginia Beer Company promotes its Liquid Escape sour ale to beer drinkers in Japan.


Waynesboro-born artist Mark Cline lives and works near Natural Bridge, but his projects have made their way to more far-flung regions of Virginia. Foamhenge, a full-size, usually astronomically correct Styrofoam replica of Stonehenge in Fairfax County, is Cline’s “greatest achievement,” according to him. While Cline didn’t create Dinosaur Land in Clarke County, he was hired to sculpt some of the park’s newer statues after frequenting the park as a child.




Economic Development Partners in Virginia VEDP works in close partnership with local and regional economic development organizations. For a full list of local and regional partners, visit In addition, VEDP regularly works with a wide network of statewide partners, including: State Leadership Partners

Project Delivery Partners


Center for Innovative Technology

General Assembly

Policy and Programmatic Partners GO Virginia

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Commission

Colleges and universities across the Commonwealth (e.g., UVA, Virginia Tech, William & Mary)

Secretary of Commerce and Trade

CSX, Norfolk Southern, and short-line railroads

Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity

Secretary of Finance

Dominion, AEP, and other electric utilities

Virginia Department of Taxation

The Port of Virginia

Virginia Department of Transportation

Virginia Community College System Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit

State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

Virginia Chamber of Commerce, as well as many local and regional chambers of commerce

Virginia Agribusiness Council

Virginia Economic Developers Association

Virginia Association of Counties

Virginia Farm Bureau

Virginia Business Council Virginia Business Higher Education Council Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association, Manufacturers Association, Virginia Maritime Association, Virginia Realtors Association, and many other trade associations

Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission Virginia Tourism Corporation

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Virginia Municipal League Virginia Planning District Commissions Virginia Rural Center


Virginia’s Technology Councils



Roanoke Region New River Valley




Southwest Virginia






I81-I77 Crossroads 77 58



Northern Shenandoah Valley


Washington, D.C.

66 81

Northern Virginia

211 33


Shenandoah Valley


Greater Fredericksburg

Central Virginia


95 81

Northern Neck







Eastern Shore

Middle Peninsula 13

Greater Richmond Lynchburg Region

60 288




Greater Williamsburg


Virginia’s Gateway Region




South Central 360 Virginia

Southern Virginia






Hampton Roads





Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.