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Governor Northam to Host Summit on Rural Prosperity in Virginia

The Virginia Rural Center announced that Governor Ralph Northam will kick off the 2019 Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity on Sept. 23, 2019 in Blacksburg.

The event, which takes place Sept. 23-24, 2019 at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, is hosted by the Virginia Rural Center and brings together state, business, and civic leaders to explore the future of rural Virginia and discuss innovative initiatives occurring in rural communities.

In addition to Governor Northam, other featured speakers and panel moderators will include (listed in order of appearance on the agenda):

  • The Honorable Danny Marshall, Virginia House of Delegates

  • Nicole Riley, Virginia State Director, National Federation of Independent Business

  • Jody Keenan, Virginia State Director, Small Business Development Center

  • Ron Norris, CEO and President, Norris Built

  • Barry Ryan, Vice President, North Carolina Rural Center

  • The Honorable Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry

  • Dr. Alan Grant, Dean, Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • Moir Beamer, CEO of Virginia Produce Company and GO VA Region 1 Member

  • Whitney Bonham, Deputy County Administrator & Economic Development Director

  • The Honorable Ben Chafin, Virginia Senate

  • Cyril Clarke, Executive Vice President and Provost, Virginia Tech

  • The Honorable Brian Ball, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade

  • Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources, Joshua Saks

  • Dr. Brian O. Hemphill, President, Radford University

  • Courtney Dozier, Chief Broadband Advisor & Chief Deputy, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

  • Evan Feinman, Governor's Chief Broadband Advisor & Executive Director, Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission

  • Ray LaMura, President, Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association

  • Andrew Vehorn, Director of Legislative Affairs, Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives

  • Tamarah Holmes, State Program Manager, Appalachian Regional Commission

  • Eric Workman, County Administrator, Bland County, Virginia

  • Dr. John Provo, Director, Office of Economic Development, Outreach and International Affairs, Virginia Tech

  • The Honorable Chris Hurst, Virginia House of Delegates

  • Erik Johnston, Agency Director, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

  • Peter D'Alema, Director of Program Management Virginia Resources Authority

  • Shawn Utt, Town Manager, Town of Pulaski, Virginia

  • Cora Gnegy, Tourism Marketing Director, Giles County, Virginia

  • Stephen Moret, CEO and President, Virginia Economic Development Partnership

The event will commence with lunch on Monday, Sept. 23 with opening remarks from the Governor, followed by panel discussions on small business, entrepreneurship, and agricultural partnerships. Summit attendees will travel to Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena for a live demonstration on innovative agricultural practices. An evening reception will close out the first day of the summit.

Following a breakfast keynote address from the president of Radford University on Tuesday, Sept. 24, as well as remarks from Virginia’s Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources, Joshua Saks, attendees will hear from panelists on broadband partnerships. Breakout sessions will follow and focus on the Rural Virginia Initiative, Commonwealth Connect Broadband Coalition and Community Revitalization. Virginia Economic Development Partnership CEO and President Stephen Moret will close out the summit with a lunch presentation.

Register for the summit online, or get more information, at

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