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Elli Travis

Economic Development Specialist

I am an economic development specialist who inspires communities to envision their best, most prosperous future. I help make that vision a reality through high-impact research methods as well as connecting communities and businesses to resources within the university. My passion is working alongside organizations to plan and evaluate their work in a way that is consistent with their mission and goals, especially in the areas of agricultural and community development.

Examples of my work include economic impact analyses, strategic planning for non-profit organizations and economic development authorities, as well as visioning and feasibility studies. Additionally, I am the lead evaluator of Catalyst, a program that connects VT faculty and students with regional business owners around technology commercialization and proof of concept services.

As a dedicated qualitative researcher and analyzer, I also facilitate workshops that challenge assumptions and provide a deeper understanding of decision-making processes. Attendees are guided through ways to measure the holistic impact of programs and learn how certain values, like jobs, investments, and equity, will affect the community long term.

A native of Washington, DC, I hold a master’s degree from Virginia Tech in Agricultural and Applied Economics and dual bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Russian, from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Currently, I am pursuing a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education with a focus on program impact evaluation. I further support my community by sitting on the board for Downtown Christiansburg, Inc. and frequenting local restaurants, shops, and farmers markets.