Radford University hosts community forum for economic development and community partnerships

Radford University has embarked on a significant planning effort associated with the development of a five-year comprehensive strategic plan that will shape the university’s mission and vision for the 2018-2023 timeframe. One of the defining concepts of the plan is to engage the Radford community in providing input to several components of the university’s new strategic plan.

The university’s Economic Development and Community Partnership sub-group, which is one of nine committees of the university’s Strategic Planning Task Force, hosted a public forum on Jan. 19 to hear recommendations regarding the university’s future economic development and community partnership initiatives and programs in conjunction with work underway to develop the university’s new strategic plan.

More than 80 people gathered at the City of Radford Recreation Center to introduce ideas and discuss how those ideas could be implemented toward building partnerships among Radford University, City of Radford and New River Valley.

Among those in attendance were City of Radford Mayor Bruce Brown, Vice Mayor Richard Harshberger, City Councilman Keith Marshall and City Manager David Ridpath, who is also a member of the university’s economic development sub-group.  Radford University alumnus Jeff Price ’86, a member of the university’s sub-group, was also in attendance and helped sponsor the community meeting with a generous contribution of food and appetizers from some of the city’s popular restaurants.

In addition to private citizens, many Radford University faculty, staff and alumni also were represented at the forum.

“We’re looking for big ideas related to economic development locally and regionally and to renew relationships,” said George Low, dean of Radford University’s College of Business and Economics. “That could be anything from how Radford University, as a community citizen, can be more involved in strengthening the community, all the way to providing educational opportunities to Radford citizens. It could be a lot of different things.”

Low, along with Laura Jacobsen, associate dean of the Radford University College of Graduate Studies and Research, serve as co-chairs of the Economic Development and Community Partnerships sub-group.

David Horton, president of the City of Radford Chamber of Commerce and assistant to the dean of the university’s College of Science and Technology, moderated the discussion, which began with community members providing ideas toward economic development and community partnerships.

Many of those ideas involved ways in which Radford University students and faculty can provide services and expertise to meet community needs, support and assist business and workforce development, promote tourism, retain graduates to work and live in Radford and the New River Valley, and coordinate communications promoting city and university events.  Participants also discussed ideas for recruiting industry to the region, thus providing more jobs.

“All of these suggestions will be beneficial to us as we continue to move forward within the university to discuss those next steps and how we might be able to bring some of this work and your ideas to fruition,” Jacobsen said.

The university’s strategic planning task force, created by President Brian O. Hemphill, includes sub-groups that are focused on academic excellence and research; brand identity; budget; challenges and opportunities; economic development and community partnerships; mission, vision and core values; philanthropic giving and alumni engagement; strategic enrollment growth; and student success. Many of the university’s strategic planning sub-groups include community members and business leaders in addition to university faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Further input to the Economic Development and Community Partnerships sub-group can be submitted by Jan. 31 through an online survey at: www.radford.edu/economic-development.

Jan 23, 2017
Chad Osborne