2015 Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference

Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary Maurice Jones, State Senator Charles W. Carrico, and Delegate Terry Kilgore invite you to join them at the Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference in Abingdon, VA. The conference will showcase how Southwest Virginia’s creative economy is a foundation on which to build Virginia’s new economy. Presentations and sessions will also illustrate how the region’s natural, cultural and human assets are driving economic opportunities in our communities and in our region. From tourism to entrepreneur development to advanced manufacturing, our region is becoming nationally known as a highly attractive destination for visitors and business development.

Register Online

Our Sponsors

Thank you to our generous sponsors!





Conference Info

Join us for two days of celebrating Southwest Virginia’s Creative Economy. You will meet and hear from people who are participating in this regional initiative.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, Abingdon Virginia

8:45 am

Registration Opens

9:45 am

Southwest Virginia’s Creative Economy: The Foundation to Building Virginia’s New Economy

Welcome and Introduction of
Senator Charles W. Carrico & Delegate Terry G. Kilgore

Secretary of Commerce and Trade
Maurice Jones


Terry McAuliffe

Southwest Virginia: Past, present and future
Todd Christensen| Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation

Leaders of Higher Education –

Keynote Address: Ben Muldrow, Arnett Muldrow & Associates

« Three leaders of Southwest Virginia higher education institutions will discuss how their geographic and cultural place affects their mission and recruitment of faculty and students, and how the creative of Southwest Virginia influences their curricula, programs, and technical assistance efforts »


President Jake Schrum, Emory & Henry College


Chancellor Donna Henry, University of Virginia’s College at Wise


President Jennifer Braaten, Ferrum College


Earl Gohl| Appalachian Regional Commission


Advanced Manufacturing/ Workforce and Training  –

Moderator: Kevin Byrd| New River Valley Regional Commission

« Discussion of advanced manufacturing and emerging technology development efforts in Southwest Virginia. What is the definition of advanced technology for our region, industrial sector development priorities, recruitment, and business development efforts? How workforce training aligns with industry development and recruitment efforts.

How the quality of life of our region and its communities affects business recruitment and the attraction of entrepreneurs, as well as managerial and technical employees »


Stephanie M. Surrett|  Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing Center of Excellence (SVAM-CoE)


Darrell Blankenship| Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board


Jennifer H. Lalli| Nanosonic Corporation


Neighboring State Creative Economy Efforts

– Moderator: Todd Christensen, Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation

« Discussion of creative economy efforts in other Appalachian States with emphasis on economic restructuring and the revitalization of communities as they transition their identity and economic development efforts capitalize to new opportunities, including tourism and entrepreneurial development »


Jared Arnett| Shaping our Appalachian Region Inc.


Christy Bailey| West Virginia Coal Heritage Area


Tom Johnson| The Winding Road. Communities A to Z, Mayor of Somerset, Ohio


Agency Heads Panel 

Moderator: Aaron Sizemore| Mount Rogers Planning District Commission

« How do three state agencies align their programs and staffing support Southwest Virginia and its communities in utilizing their cultural and natural assets to create economic opportunities and develop a quality of life that attracts visitors, new businesses and relocates to the region? What is being done to develop or enhance destination and communities, and to market the region as a whole and its assets in particular?

What are current programs and initiatives which support the creative economy and entrepreneurial development?

How are state agencies collaborating with each other and regional stakeholders to maximize impact and create new economic opportunities »


Rita McClenny| Virginia Tourism Corporation


Clyde Christman| Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation


Bill Shelton| Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

Building the Creative Economy

Moderator: Jim Baldwin, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission

Jack Hinshelwood| The Crooked Road


Diana Blackburn|, ‘Round the Mountain


 Jim Baldwin| Spotlight Southwest Virginia


Todd Christensen| Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation


5:00 pm

Reception & Entertainment – SWVA Wines and Craft Beers, Heavy Hors d’oeuvres.
The Yates Family Band.

6:30 pm

Taste of Town – Dine Around
Explore the Abingdon Area’s best local restaurants.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, Abingdon Virginia

7:30 am

Registration Opens

8:00 am


Special video message from Senator Mark Warner



Anyplace Businesses


Jane Henderson| Virginia Community Capital


Joe Elton| Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation


9:30 am

Breakout Sessions

Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Development Tool – Performance Area

Moderator: Jack Morgan| Friends of Southwest Virginia

« The Appalachian Spring Initiative is providing a framework for the development and collaboration of outdoor recreation assets and activities to promote the marketing of Southwest Virginia as a destination for visitors, and to provide recreation as a lifestyle to attract businesses and people to locate here.

This panel will discuss how recreational asset are being developed to attract people interested in a variety of outdoor activities, and how these assets, and others being planned, are benefitting the region and nearby communities. Participant will also discuss how collaboration with other stakeholders and surrounding destinations enhances the attractiveness and marketing of their destination »


Austin Bradley| Breaks Interstate Park


Chris McKlarney| Giles County


Kathy Givens| Scott County Horse Association


Brad Kreps| The Nature Conservancy


Agriculture as an Economic Driver – TCR Gallery – Main Entrance

Moderator: Kathlyn Terry|  Appalachian Sustainable Development


Phil Blevins| Agriculture and Natural Resources


Traci Blido| Bedford County


George Price, Legislative Assistant for Delegate Tom Pillion


Entrepreneurship Fueling The Creative Economy – Boardroom III

Moderator: Shannon Blevins| University of Virginia’s College at Wise

« Southwest Virginia is experiencing an explosion of entrepreneurial enterprises taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the creative economy and the burgeoning expansion of tourism to the region.

Hear how entrepreneurs are investing in business opportunities fueled by regional and local creative economy initiatives »


Ellen Reynolds| Beagle Ridge Herb Farm


Jennifer Bailey| Bailey Hardware


Steve Critchfield| West Main Development

10:45 am

Breakout Sessions


Tourism & Marketing: Integrating tourism into overall economic & community development efforts – Performance Area
–  Moderator: Steve Galyean| Virginia Tourism Corporation

« With the escalating increase in tourism in Southwest Virginia communities are capitalizing by making themselves tourism destinations through the development of their unique local assets aligned with regional creative economy initiatives and marketing efforts. These (off the interstate) destinations both contribute to and benefit from the regional branding and marketing of Southwest Virginia »


Matt Hankins| Rocky Mount


Pat Sharkey| Floyd County


Leah Ross|Birthplace of Country Music


Cora Gnegy| Giles County


New Frontiers In Building The Creative Economy – TCR Gallery – Main Entrance

Moderator: Anthony Flaccavento| SCALE Inc. and Organic Farmer

 Creative economies are emerging in many part of the nation, from rural, small towns to larger urban areas. As these new economies develop, innovative ideas and tools are also developing to strengthen and accelerate the work and its impacts. This session will explore three such innovations:  The “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” approach to reinvigorating public spaces and rebuild downtowns; local currencies as a tool to plug economic leaks and increase support for local businesses; and innovative manufacturing of energy efficient, extremely durable housing panels that results in both good jobs and products that help us live more sustainably.


Joe Fortier| ACME Panel


Alice Maggio| Schumacher Center for New Economies (Massachusetts)

Spirits of the Southwest Virginia – Boardroom III

Moderator: Ken Heath| Smyth County

« The development of local breweries, wineries and distilleries has been phenomenal in Southwest Virginia. Although these enterprises take years to develop, many have opened production and visitation all over the region in the past few years. They not only provide an added benefit to their communities by attracting patrons and visitors to their sampling rooms and production facilities.

Hear how there enterprises were developed and how they are connected to their communities. »


Adam Woodse|, Damascus Brewery


David Stanley| Stanburn Winery


Tom Copenhaver| Davis Valley Winery and Distillery


Additional participant information to come!


Rooms have been blocked booked for the night of Sept. 20, 21 & 22 at the following area hotels. Please call the hotel you would like to book to make your reservation – don’t forget to mention you are with the SWVA Creative Economy Conference. If you have any problems booking a room at these locations, call us at 276.492.2420 or email us at conference@myswva.org.

Comfort Inn Suites
1093 Ole Berry Dr. | Abingdon, VA
Book by Aug. 21 -Ask for “Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference” rooms

Comfort Inn
170 Old Jonesboro Rd. | Abingdon, VA
Book by Aug. 21 - Ask for “Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference” rooms

Martha Washington Hotel & Spa
150 W. Main St. | Abingdon, VA
Book by Aug. 20 – Ask for "Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference” rooms

Hampton Inn - Abingdon
340 Commerce Dr. | Abingdon, VA
Book by Sept. 10 – Ask for “Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference” rooms

Holiday Inn Express
940 E. Main St | Abingdon, VA 24210
Book by Aug. 20 – Ask for “Heartwood Block” rooms

Dine Around Town

On Monday night of the conference explore the Abingdon Area’s best local restaurants.  Don’t wait – make a reservation for you and your friends now!

The Peppermill
231 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA
276.623.0530 ‬‎‬‬
American cuisine right on Main St.

The Tavern
190 E Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Dining at the Tavern, a tradition since 1779.

190 E Main St. | Abingdon, VA
Brick oven pizza, homemade pasta, risottos, fresh salads, and seasonal specials.

J.J.’s Restaurant & Sports Bar
115 Charwood Dr. | Abingdon, Virginia
“This is where people in Abingdon go for really good food.”

Alison’s Restaurant
1220 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Casual dinning in a unique atmosphere.

Bella’s Pizza
872 E Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
276.628.8101 ‬‎
Enjoy a casual, fun atmosphere while eating great pizzas, calzones, salads and more.

Bonefire Smokehouse BBQ
260 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Local BBQ with all the fixings plus live music.

Milano’s Italian Cuisine
1060 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
An authentic taste of Italy at your convience.

Political Dogs
110 W Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Enjoy sandwiches, hot lunches and delicious desserts in a relaxing atmosphere.

Ellis’ Soda Shoppe & Grill
217 W Main St. | | Abingdon, VA ‎
A former pharmacy that, unlike others at the time, had no soda fountain. But it has one now – and the best sandwiches, sodas and ice cream in town.

Rain Restaurant & Bar
283 E Main St. | Abingdon, VA ‎
Casual fine dining.

128 Pecan
128 Pecan St SE | Abingdon, VA ‎
A small casual restaurant featuring simple, good food.

The Harvest Table Restaurant
13180 Meadowview Square | Meadowview, VA ‎
276.944.5142 ‬‎
Fine comfort dining, that is accessible and affordable with seasonal features leading the way.

Sister’s American Grill
Martha Washington Inn & Spa | 150 W Main St | Abingdon, VA
Fine dining in the historic setting of the Martha Washington Inn.


For conference questions, registration, hotels and more, contact the SWVA Cultural Heritage Foundation.

Southest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
One Heartwood Circle | Abingdon, VA 24210