In July, the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development hosted Bob Cowell, the City Manager of Roanoke, VA. Mr. Cowell visited Virginia Tech to learn more about the ways in which resources at Virginia Tech can be used in Roanoke. Mr. Cowell noted there are many wonderful assets at Virginia Tech that can and need to be utilized in Roanoke.

The first stop of the journey began at the Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP). Faculty members Karen Hult, Robin Lemaire, and Stephanie Davis met with Mr. Cowell to discuss research, resources, and connections CPAP could offer Roanoke. From the growing Master of Public Administration program with research focused on local governments, to developing relationships and tactics needed to grow in today’s environment, to discussing the importance of shadowing and internships CPAP represented the role Virginia Tech can play in bridging the gap and gathering resources to bring from Blacksburg to Roanoke.

The next stop brought Mr. Cowell to the Institute for Policy and Governance (IPG) where Mr. Cowell met with faculty members Max Stephenson and David Moore to discuss ways in which research surrounding the Community Change Collaborative, a Vibrant Virginia funded project, can work in Roanoke. Faculty discussed with Mr. Cowell how Roanoke is a growing city and one way to mitigate community controversies regarding change is through art expression within the community and government. IPG has many interdisciplinary initiatives focused on investigating and mitigating resistance in the community change process. Faculty and Mr. Cowell discussed ways in which faculty and student researchers can work with Roanoke officials to develop best practices in growing the city.

The final stop on Mr. Cowell’s tour brought him to the Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC). Here faculty members Elizabeth Gilboy and Nick Proctor met with Mr. Cowell to discuss how their innovations in landscape architecture and design can assist Roanoke. At CDAC communities who have sites that need a redesign can work with CDAC to develop new ways to preserve, design, or work with spaces. Mr. Cowell stated a fundamental item in Roanoke currently is focusing on inclusionary economic growth. He stated CDAC’s research and work could assist the community in ensuring to preserve the history of Roanoke as they move forward.


Written By: Jennifer Morgan, Communications Coordinator