First Annual Talent Summit with State and Regional Leaders Hosted at Roanoke College

The beautiful Roanoke College campus in Salem, Virginia surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The beautiful Roanoke College campus in Salem, Virginia surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The region’s most influential leaders on talent attraction and retention are gathering at the 2024 Talent Summit on March 7, 2024, at Roanoke College. The goal of this event is to align the efforts of employers, higher education, workforce and economic development, and government as they collaborate to develop talent from within, form meaningful connections with students in our region, and attract top-tier talent to area employers.

As communities across the country are battling to attract, train, and retain top-tier talent, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Roanoke Region, and New River Valley are working intentionally and collectively to set themselves apart from the competition. The summit will help leaders identify gaps in the talent pipeline and help build better connections between education and industry.

The summit will be held inside the Morris M. Cregger Center’s performance arena on the Roanoke College campus from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and is open to representatives from government, higher education, C-suite management, and human resource and marketing professionals. The event will lead with a welcome from state leadership followed by a keynote from former Virginia delegate and president of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, Kirk Cox.

Inside the state-of-the-art Morris M. Cregger Center, the primary venue for the first annual Talent Summit

“We are thrilled to host the inaugural Talent Summit at Roanoke College, bringing together leaders from various sectors to shape the future of talent in Virginia. Through meaningful panel discussions and sessions, we aim to equip professionals with practical knowledge that drives positive change and nurtures talent attraction pipelines. Roanoke College is honored to play a pivotal role in advancing discussions on higher education’s role in catering to industry needs and empowering employers to actively contribute to shaping the future workforce,” remarked Frank Shushok Jr., Ph.D., president of Roanoke College. “Our collaboration with esteemed partners and the support from initiatives like Growth4VA and GO Virginia highlight the collective effort invested in creating talent pathways that benefit our region’s employers.”

Mid-morning the summit will host a panel of higher education leaders, moderated by Dr. Shushok of Roanoke College, with major colleges and universities from the region represented, followed by optional lunch and learn sessions regarding employer success stories, communication best practices, and building partnerships. These sessions will provide human resources, marketing, and management professionals with practical knowledge they can implement within their organizations to effect change and develop meaningful talent attraction pipelines.

“While the Roanoke Region is ahead of many localities when it comes to talent attraction, student awareness of our region’s employers is still a big challenge for us,” says Julia Boas, director of talent strategies at the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “We don’t want to be known as a place that exports all its top talent. We want to be known as a place where you can get a world-class education, find a great paid internship, fall in love with the beauty and vibrancy of Virginia’s Blue Ridge and stay for a great job.”

Young professionals are choosing the Roanoke Region over larger metros, here’s why.

Collaborative partners working to host the first annual summit include the Roanoke Regional Partnership and their talent attraction organization Get2KnowNoke, the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, Onward NRV, Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership, New River/Mt. Rogers Workforce Development Board, and every major college and higher education institution in the Roanoke Region and New River Valley.

“The talent summit is a great opportunity to convene leaders from all aspects of workforce, education, private sector, and economic development,” explained Morgan Romeo, executive director of the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board. “Developing and maintaining a talent pipeline is a team effort and thanks to GO Virginia we can host this summit and invite stakeholders to come to the table and develop tangible solutions as part of a regional talent strategy.”

Future summits are expected to rotate locations throughout the Roanoke Region and New River Valley to highlight the level of excellence at the higher education institutions that these two regions wield.

Combined, the Roanoke Region and New River Valley encompass 25 institutions of higher education, with more than 100,000 undergraduate and graduate students. That’s a higher concentration of undergraduates — .108 per capita – than in the Boston-Cambridge, San Francisco-Oakland, and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill areas.

Combined the Roanoke Region and New River Valleys have over 100,000 students of higher learning.

The 2024 Talent Summit is just one of the many ways that regional partners are working together to leverage the asset of higher education density and create talent pathways that directly benefit our region’s employers. This work is made possible thanks to grants and support from GO Virginia, the Commonwealth’s initiative by senior business leaders to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.

Kim Blair
Vice President for Advancement
Roanoke College

Julia Boas
Director of Talent Strategies
Roanoke Regional Partnership

Morgan Romeo
Executive Director
Greater Roanoke Workforce Board