Chris Runyon is a public relations and communications manager with the Better Business Bureau serving Western Virginia. He is a graduate of Patrick Henry High School and James Madison University. Chris resides in Roanoke City with his wife and new puppy. We asked Chris some questions about what brought him back to the Roanoke Region, and a few of his favorite things about living here.
Where were you before you returned to the Roanoke Region? What was the catalyst for your return?
For six years, I lived at 10,000 feet in a small town outside Breckenridge, Colorado. Most Colorado transplants speak ill of their hometowns; that was never my story. I’ve always liked where I grew up. But it wasn’t until I was at the annual GO Fest event during one of my visits home I began to experience a strong sense of community and excitement that Roanoke was on the cusp of something special. I wanted in early and ultimately moved back to be closer to my family, who still lives nearby.
How do you think the Roanoke Region has shifted or transitioned in the last 10 years?
Roanoke was built around the railroad, with Norfolk Southern playing a significant role in the surrounding area. It’s been neat to see Roanoke transition from “trains to brains” with the healthcare industry and strategic partnerships with local universities adding opportunities for our community. With more students and young professionals increasing the demand, small businesses answered by filling leases of long-term vacancies in downtown Roanoke. The revitalization of downtown Roanoke truly brought life back into this city.
What do you think makes this region attractive from a livability perspective?
The cost of living and access to outdoor recreation are two things that make this region incredibly attractive. I came to terms quickly that where I lived in Colorado wasn’t feasible to start a family and live comfortably. Colorado residents frequently say they’re richer in different ways. I’d say why choose? You can have both right here in the Greater Roanoke area.
Currently, what is your favorite food and beverage establishment in the region you think people should try?
I support businesses that are investing in their backyard. Go check out Bloom Restaurant & Wine Bar and RND Coffee Lounge. Not only are they putting out some fantastic food and drinks, but they’re the change we want to see in our community.
Any words of wisdom, advice, or encouragement to other “boomerangs” considering a move back to the region?
Don’t wait. The secret is out.
What do you think about the real estate market here and current revitalization projects in our communities?
I love the way neighborhoods are becoming more micro-communities. Wasena’s main street revitalization project has trickled over to Old Southwest which is also squeezed by downtown’s revival. Just look at Day Avenue; every house is getting flipped. Downtown Vinton proper has seen incredible growth. Of course, any neighborhoods close to Roanoke Memorial or access to Greenways and Blueways will be the next opportunity for real estate investment.
Below is your guide to the “Best of the Roanoke Region” over the Thanksgiving holiday. Share this with your college students, adult children, or anyone coming to visit this season – and show off everything your community has to offer.
Get2KnowNoke has hand-selected the trendiest cocktail lounges, the best outdoor adventures, the tastiest eats, breweries you may not have tried, cool new shops that just opened, and so much more. We tried to highlight everything new that your friends and family may not have tried, as well as all the old favorites.
Wed. Nov. 24
Plan your Friendsgiving at one of the region’s top restaurants or grab a craft cocktail to celebrate.
“Now that you can remotely work from anywhere in the world – why would you not choose a place with beautiful mountains, great dining, arts and culture, breweries for days, a huge outdoor community; where your commute is non-existent and adventure is endless.”
-Taylor Johnson, Director of Talent Attraction
Wednesday, November 24 (Thanksgiving Eve)
Plan Your Friendsgiving: Grab dinner with hometown friends at one of the region’s trendy new spots and Star City favorites.
Bloom (Wasena): Restaurant and wine bar serving seasonal small-plates and libations.
Sidecar (Downtown Roanoke): Located next to Martin’s Downtown, this mid-century, art deco designed modern bar and restaurant serving seafood, steak, and superior cocktails is a must do.
1772 Rooftop Bar on Main (Fincastle): A rooftop bar featuring a bar made out of an old prop plane, and views overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. They have Wine Wednesdays with $5 glasses, and award winning mixologists.
Thanksgiving Eve Downtown Roanoke: One of the biggest social nights of the year! See old and new friends at any of Downtown Roanoke’s bars. Our list of favorites will be pouring late so you can catch up with old and new friends.
#OptOutside on Black Friday: The movement started by outdoor retail company REI in 2015 is celebrated here in the Roanoke Valley, an outdoor wonderland. Instead of spending your day stressed out in crowded stores, enjoy a beautiful outing in the Blue Ridge Mountains .
PRO TIP: Bring a bag on your adventure to collect litter and keep our region beautiful.
Blue Ridge Parkway: Explore the beauty of the most visited park in the US at any of these local stops.
Peaks of Otter: Take a leisurely stroll around Abbott Lake and enjoy the views from the base or challenge yourself to a hike up Sharp Top Mountain to 360 mountain views.
Explore Park: Explore Park features hundreds of acres of trails, riverside views, and outdoor fun. Whether you want to get in a game of Disc Golf or take a bike through the 14 miles of trails, you are sure to get in some serious outdoor adventure. Finish the day at Twin Creeks brew pub.
Mill Mountain: Haven’t taken a visit to the city’s iconic star in a while? Take a trip up the Mill Mountain Greenway with a picnic at the star. With miles of hiking, mountain biking and running trails, the zoo and the botanical gardens – there is plenty to do for all ages.
Carvins Cove Natural Reserve: With 60 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking, you are sure to find beautiful fall foliage at this outdoor hidden gem.
Roanoke’s Regional Greenways: The greenways that lie within the City of Roanoke’s limits include Roanoke River Greenway, Garden City Greenway, Mill Mountain Greenway, Murray Run Greenway, Lick Run Greenway, and Tinker Creek Greenway.
Jackson River Scenic Trail: Virginia’s newest and extremley scenic rails-to-trails project is just outside of downtown Covington. Easy access makes it popular for residents and visitors to walk, bike, or jog along the Jackson River in the beautiful Alleghany Highlands.
Star City Beer Tour: The Roanoke Region has 16 craft breweries to choose from but one cool little nook of town has three all within a few blocks. Head to the trendy West End to check out of Roanoke’s neighborhoods on the rise.
IPAs, Stouts, and Pale Ales – Oh My! Try them all at these West End Breweries
Twisted Track: Offers pub fare and craft beer and ciders with a twist.
Golden Cactus: Brewing daily at this colorful, kid-friendly brewery with a greenhouse vibe.
Where are the coolest and most affordable cities for millennials? If you guess Roanoke, then you are right.
The Roanoke Region was noted as one of “25 Cities that Millennials Can Afford and Actually Want to Live In” by The Penny Hoarder. Roanoke came in at No. 12 with an affordability rank of 5, millennial happiness rank of 18, and economy health rank of 15.
Job seekers, you don’t have to look any further than the Roanoke Region to find the perfect fit.
A report in USA Today notes that Roanoke is one of the best metro job markets in 2018. The ranking was produced by Zippia, a job search website, which used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistic to tank the top markets. Rankings are based on based on how much local wages rose, how much unemployment dipped, and the current jobless rate. Continue reading “Roanoke Named Top Market for Jobs by USA Today”