GO Virginia survey shows weak economic growth in southwest Virginia


RUSSELL COUNTY, Va. - A new research survey shows southwest Virginia has the weakest economic growth in the state. The numbers also show a further decline in population. Regardless of a challenging future, business owners say they are still pushing forward.

The new state initiative called Go Virginia is meant to promote growth and development. The latest research and surveys reveal startling statistics for our region.

In southwest Virginia, 25 percent of people surveyed said they might have to move to get a job.

"When you look at the projections for our region, they're showing us to lose another 8,000 or 9,000 people in the next five years," Go Virginia Region One Chairman Mike Quillen said.

Quillen said the worsening problem is that many moving out are young people.

"When you see it in black and white, we've got a lot of difficult tasks to overcome going forward," Quillen said.

Some businesses moving into the area are turning the challenge into a positive.

Jennifer Bailey and her husband Greg just celebrated their first anniversary at Sugar Hill Brewing Company. Jennifer said, "Sometimes we think if we were to locate somewhere else, we might do better. Somewhere else doesn't need us the way this area needs us and lots of other businesses to come in."

At least in Russell County, Industrial Development Authority Development Chairman Ernie McFadden says the county has actually had five new business start-ups just in the past month.

McFadden said, "Our small businesses are really the heart of who we are here and always have been."

McFadden says those are signs of hope, despite the latest statistics showing decline.

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