Future Looks Bright for Dan River Region, Says Economic Development Advisor | Local business news

The Dan River has resisted change over the past few decades and can expect more in the next 20 years, a community and economic development adviser said Thursday morning.

“This region is no stranger to change,” said Beth Doughty, senior fellow at the Danville Regional Foundation, during a Business at Breakfast event at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

More than 100 community leaders attended the event hosted by the Danville County Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce.

Doughty gave a summary of Danville’s progress and a presentation on the Regional Prosperity Partnership, a Danville County-Pittsylvania group whose mission is to “cultivate strategic transformation by bringing together, encouraging and organizing efforts to build prosperity.” “.

At one time, Danville’s textile manufacturer, Dan River Inc., had 18,000 employees. But in 2006, the facility would close in the city and no one would work there anymore, Doughty said.

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But the area has seen significant growth, with more than $1.1 billion in economic development projects promising around 4,000 jobs announced in Danville and Pittsylvania County since 2018. She cited Tyson, Aerofarms and Morgan Olson as some examples.

“It’s a changing future with so much promise,” said Doughty, former president of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and former executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership.

Also, the Southern Virginia mega site at Berry Hill in the county, which officials hope will attract a major manufacturer, is on the shortlist of major projects, she said.

The 3,500-acre site was one of two top locations in the country that Hyundai considered for a $5.5 billion electric vehicle manufacturing plant last spring. The project would have created 8,500 jobs in the area, but the company chose a site in Bryan County, Georgia, near Savannah, for its installation.

The Berry Hill site, once it attracts industry there, will “likely double the number of new jobs” in the area, Doughty said.

More than 100 community leaders attend the Danville County Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research Thursday morning. The event included a presentation on the Regional Prosperity Partnership.

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She went on to praise the Danville River District, which has so far received $50 million in public investment and $250 million in private investment. She attributed its resurgence to “tireless work” and adequate funding.

Doughty told attendees to think back to 1992 in the Dan River region and then look to 2022.

“Imagine what it’s going to look like in 2042,” Doughty said, challenging leaders to “think like futurists, not like historians.”

As for the Regional Prosperity Partnership, Danville City Council and the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors formed it in 2020. The group has a steering committee that includes the city manager, county administrator, chairs of the Chamber and the Institute, superintendent of the public schools of Danville. , President and CEO of the Danville Regional Foundation and industry representative.

The group was formed as a result of a recommendation from the 2019 Regional Economic Development Strategic Plan for Danville and Pittsylvania County. It is a civic think tank that shares knowledge about what lies ahead for the region and “engages the community in identifying, understanding, and finding solutions to challenges while leveraging opportunities to advance the ‘economy,’ according to the group’s website.

Brian Jackson, executive director of customized training for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said the regional group better connects participating localities.

“It aligns the region as a collaborative entity,” said Jackson, who attended the breakfast. “It will be an additional tool in the toolbox to help us [VEDP] in the recruitment of companies coming to the region.