The Roanoke Regional Partnership is looking for someone to enhance and grow their program focused on talent outreach strategies, partnerships, communications, and marketing to attract talent for our region and its employers. The Partnership has already changed the region’s narrative to that of an active, outdoor mecca through the work of the Roanoke Outside Foundation. This is an opportunity to leverage that narrative to attract and retain top talent in the Roanoke region.
This position calls for someone with an entrepreneurial mindset who can create connections with academic institutions, employers, local governments, students, and other stakeholders, and market the region as a destination for top talent. The ideal candidate relishes the challenge of building a program from the ground up, is a creative yet strategic thinker, and a self-motivator who will not shy away from constructing plans and setting goals.
Flycodes Apparel, born and bred right here in the Roanoke region, makes customized high-performance gear for teams, companies, and individuals in hopes of giving everyone an opportunity to represent their school and city. We sat down with founder Champ Hubbard to hear about his entrepreneurial journey and how our community has impacted the work.
How did your journey with Flycodes start? What was the catalyst for launching your business in the Roanoke Region?
We came back to Roanoke about 17 years ago to take care of our parents. I was a teacher in Northern Virginia, and I was trying to determine where I wanted to teach. As as alum, my heart was at William Fleming. I took a job there and eventually earned the girls’ basketball head coaching position. I was trying to come up with ways to help the girls with camaraderie and becoming a team. My thought was to work on the uniforms to give them a little swag, and the wheels started turning.
We understand that you have come to somewhat trademark our area code as a brand. Tell us where that came from?
Back in the day, when I was playing basketball, I remember Patrick Henry High School used to have these really cool PH socks. I thought if I could give our players something like that, something personalized to represent their school or community, it would put us on the map. I was able to start doing custom socks with the uniforms, and I decided to put 540 on the socks. Originally, I thought it was just a cool idea to represent where you are from, but then the socks took off. What I remember most about that first season is the players from the opposing teams weren’t looking at their opponent; they were looking at the socks. Something clicked in my head–maybe I have something here.
Since the beginning of the business, you have been about representing your community. If it’s not just about the socks and the uniforms, what is it about?
I thought for a while I was just going to bless people in the community, but ironically, this put Flycodes on the map outside the region. From day one, I have always wanted to bring attention to the community. Teams and schools in other places in Virginia got more attention, and we wanted our athletes here in the region to get the same opportunities. This is ultimately why we started highlighting the area code on our apparel to put us on the map and help athletes in the community. The socks set a precedent of college scouts remembering the socks and, ultimately, remembering the player. It opened a door for me as a coach to tell scouts about my kids and other kids in our region that were getting overlooked. It’s strange that it all started with a sock, but it worked out in our favor after we were able to help dozens of kids go to college on their talent alone. We kicked the door down, and opportunity followed.
How did you go from making custom socks to having a full apparel business here in the region?
After our brand started getting recognition and representation through the basketball and track communities, I knew I could expand on the idea and I started researching more apparel. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to be in the schools, so kids here could be unique. We are proud to now be represented at William Fleming, Patrick Henry, Northside, Cave Spring, Lord Botetourt, and Roanoke Catholic. My main goal was to provide uniforms for all the sports leagues in the region’s school systems. It’s like a dream come true to see our uniforms come out of the tunnel or the locker room. Additionally, we’re now providing apparel (like polos, outerwear, etc.) for several companies and their employees!
You share a lot about community and the importance of community involvement. Tell us what that means to you?
Part of the success we have had is due to community support. Starting a company here was always the most important aspect of my business. I always wanted the foundation of having our business here in Roanoke because it means something. People want to support you because you are local. If our business ever blows up to be bigger than we are now, we can always say our business started in little ol’ Roanoke, and that means a lot to the community. It brings attention, opportunity, and jobs here. Ultimately, my goal would be to provide jobs to people in our region and give back to help our schools.
Besides continuing your entrepreneurial journey here in the region, what other aspirations or dreams do you have for our region?
I would love to see joint ventures for the betterment of the community.
Through our selected, influential group of talent ambassadors, we intend to build and expand our talent pool to establish a community that represents the wide variety of backgrounds, careers, and lifestyles in our area. The goal of this network is to be as inclusive as possible to all professionals who seek to make our region home. Our talent ambassadors are a representation of our community in the region and will help individuals who are evaluating our market to connect locally with diverse professionals who can relate to their needs. Our talent ambassadors bridge the gap in information and aid in community building and leadership development.
“I agreed to be a talent ambassador because I love living in Roanoke. Second, I love working here. Third, I want others to consider visiting, then moving here. Our region gets better as we grow and diversify.” – Bonnie Chavez, Talent Ambassador
For the year ahead, talent ambassadors will be involved and engaged with the Roanoke Regional Partnership’s plans for Get2KnowNoke and messaging surrounding talent attraction. We know these individuals will be strong crusaders for attracting and keeping the finest talent here in our region based on their innovative ideas, community following, and excitement surrounding the growing region. Our ambassadors are already involved in community engagement, outreach, and attraction through a variety of outlets.
“The talent ambassador network is a unique group of individuals that all bring different experiences, interests, and goals to our community. In order for our region to continue to grow, we must network with a purpose, including business-to-business relationships and investing in personal growth opportunities.” – Mary Katherine Stahl, Talent Ambassador
Talent ambassadors are key outlets for sharing and advertising Get2KnowNoke’s events and initiatives. This advertising will continue, as all talent ambassadors are expected to influence participation in events including the Experience Conference, Roanoke Regional Professionals Network, the Summer Internship Program, and other opportunities for talent engagement in the region. Ambassador attendance has been strong at all events this calendar year and shows the excitement and willingness of the community to support the Partnership’s talent-growth strategy.
“I feel my strong suit is making connections and helping others make connections. I feel that when you want to keep people around you must connect with them. Jobs and amenities can be replicated, but relationships are hard to replicate.” – John Park, Talent Ambassador
One of the group’s priorities has been to engage the remote community. There are opportunities being developed to create more spaces for the remote community to grow and engage, but we hope to do more. One priority of Thrive 2027 is to advocate for remote work here in the region but also to integrate those professionals into our community. With several remote-working talent ambassadors, we now have influential professionals to help advocate for the best resources for remote workers.
“I became a talent ambassador because I wanted to meet people I may not have crossed paths with otherwise. I also wanted to make sure work-from-home professionals were well represented and that we continue to attract remote workers to the region.” – Courtney Proffitt, Talent Ambassador
To learn more about the program and the talent ambassadors themselves, please check out our website. And if you have a story to share, we want to hear from you! Are you proud and excited about our region? Do you want to encourage others to move here for all we have to offer? Please email Julia Boas at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Monday, June 13, professionals from all over the Roanoke Region could be found listening to speakers, talking with peers, and engaging with other professionals. This was Get2KnowNoke’s 2022 Experience Conference, the region’s annual professional development conference for students, professionals, and job seekers. For the first time in two years, attendees were grateful to finally meet face to face and connect with one another while soaking up all the conference had to offer. “I couldn’t be more thankful to those that made this year’s conference a success,” Taylor Johnson, director of Talent Attraction said. “From the speakers to our volunteers, I felt the day was a great representation of what the future holds for Get2KnowNoke”.
Held at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, over 140 people registered for a day of thought-provoking speakers, networking, and professional development. Delegate Sam Rasoul kicked off the day with a rock-paper-scissors tournament. This set the tone for what would be an energetic and engaging conference. Speakers shared expertise from a variety of topics like pivoting during challenging times, attracting and retaining Gen Z employees, and the importance of a strong small-business community. However, what was probably the most impactful presentation came from the keynote speaker, Archie Messersmith-Bunting.
Archie, AKA the Feelings Guy, gave an impassioned and topical speech about the importance of mental health awareness. He explained the pitfalls of ignoring our feelings, discussed recognizing and talking about our feelings, and gave us practical and easy-to-implement habits for getting ourselves into a healthier state of mind. These little changes can have large impacts in both our personal and professional lives. Mental health is a topic rarely talked about in professional settings, but it clearly resonated with this audience. One attendee said, “When I sign up for a conference, I want to walk away inspired and motivated to imbed new techniques into my work. Archie’s presentation was that inspirational message for the day.”
New this year was the Thrive Market, an exclusive outdoor shopping experience featuring local small businesses. The idea came from the conference’s “pivot” theme. The small business community faced several challenges over the past few years, and they were able to adapt and pivot, resulting in continued success. “I believe entrepreneurship is part of the fabric that makes our region so special,” Johnson said. “Because of their tenacious spirit, I felt it was important to showcase the small business community at the conference.” Despite hot temperatures, attendees enjoyed patronizing these small businesses while sipping on a Deb’s Frozen Lemonade, courtesy of Get2KnowNoke. Of the market, one attendee noted, “I love supporting small business! I have shopped with almost all of these folks and will continue to support!”
Thanks to attendee feedback, steps are already in motion for Experience 2023. We’re already discussing themes, venues, speakers, and increasing capacity. If you haven’t had a chance, please fill out our survey by clicking here. We’re grateful to all who helped make this conference possible, and we can’t wait to do it again next year. In the meantime, stay tuned for other Get2KnowNoke events coming up, including our quarterly Roanoke Regional Professionals Network socials and the summer internship program. You can learn more by following us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or by registering for our monthly emails by clicking here.
Get2KnowNoke continues to build tools for regional employers and the community to use to help attract and retain top-tier talent. One of those tools is our Summer Internship Program. As businesses in the region welcome summer interns, this program provides a unique opportunity for both the students and the organizations: students can gain industry knowledge and training to prepare them for the workforce, while businesses now have a pool of job-ready talent to draw from after graduation. The summer internship program’s goal is to make the participants want to come back to the region after graduation by creating connections to people and the community through curated experiences.
For those who have signed up, we look forward to getting to know you. If you have interns that you’d like to participate, please fill out the form below. Questions? You can email Taylor Johnson, director of Talent Attraction, at email@example.com.
Our Talent Ambassador Network is up and running with some of our region’s finest professionals. We are excited to have these individuals represent some of the great stories in Alleghany Highlands, Botetourt County, City of Covington, City of Salem, Franklin County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, and the Town of Vinton.
We have two more dynamic people to add to our talent ambassador team: Austin Larrowe and Quincy Randolph!
Austin Larrowe is the founder and CEO of Doppio Data Solutions, a business strategy, business intelligence, & automation focused consulting firm. Austin grew up in Southwest Virginia, and he and his wife moved from the Washington, D.C., area to Southwest Roanoke in 2019 to be closer to family and enjoy the less chaotic life and natural beauty that the Roanoke region has to offer. Austin is a proud Hokie Alumnus and enjoys talking about big ideas and learning from others. – Linkedin
Quincy Randolph is the chef and owner of RND (Roaster Next Door) in Wasena and Vinton, which he opened with his brother Steffon in 2019 and 2022 respectively. The brothers drew inspiration from their parents who operated a small coffee shop for a few years when they were young. Since relocating from Richmond, Quincy has established himself in the community and is a 2021 Roanoker “40 under 40” recipient. – Linkedin
Stay tuned for more information about what these folks will be doing to further Get2KnowNoke’s talent attraction story and for ways to get involved. Do you have a story? Are you proud and excited about your region? We want to hear from you. Email Taylor@Roanoke.org today!
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.
What is it like to live, work, and play in the Roanoke Region of Virginia? See it through the eyes of some of the region’s young professionals in their own words.
Hannah Bernath works in the IT department at Delta Dental of Virginia. “I’ve been fortunate to have a variety of roles here which have allowed me to expand my skill set and grow my career,” she said of her job.
While Hannah grew up in the Roanoke Region, she left for a while for college and a few years post-graduation but moved back home in 2011.
What is it like to live, work, and play in the Roanoke Region of Virginia? See it through the eyes of some of the region’s young professionals in their own words.
Sydni Chernault was born and raised in Fussa, Japan. She made the move to Virginia for college and after graduation, “the mountains kept me.” She recently bought her first home in the region and plans to stay long term.
She works as the production lead at Eddy Alexander, an advertising agency in downtown Roanoke. “I love that I’m able to use my creative mind for different projects every week at work,” she said of her job. “It really keeps me on my toes.”