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

8:30 am

Registration Opens

9:30 am

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

Opening Plenary
Senator Charles W. Carrico & Delegate Terry G. Kilgore

Secretary of Commerce and Trade
Maurice Jones

Governor Terry McAuliffe

Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
Todd Christensen

Regional Branding
Ben Muldrow

President’s Roundtable – Moderator: Ben Muldrow, Arnett Muldrow & Associates

  • President Jake Shrum, Emory & Henry College
  • Chancellor Donna Henry, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
  • President Jennifer Braaten, Ferrum College

Appalachian Regional Commission
Earl Gohl

Advanced Manufacturing/Workforce Training & The Creative Economy – Moderator: Kevin Byrd, New River Valley Planning District Commission

  • Aleta Spicer, Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing Inc.

Other State Initiatives

  • Jared Arnett, Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc.
  • Doug Arbogast, West Virginia University Extension Service
  • Tom Johnson, The Winding Road/Somerset, Ohio

Virginia State Agency Heads – Moderator: Aaron Sizemore, Mount Rogers Planning District Commission

  • Rita McClenny, Virginia Tourism Corporation
  • Clyde Christman, Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Bill Shelton, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

Spotlight Southwest Virginia – Richard Rose, Barter Theatre

The Crooked Road
Jack Hinshelwood, The Crooked Road & Jim Baldwin, Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission

5:00 pm

Reception & Entertainment – SWVA Wines and Craft Beers, Heavy Hors d’oeuvres.
Music from The Crooked Road.

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

Breakfast Buffet, Morning Plenary

Anyplace Businesses

  • Jane Henderson, Virginia Community Capital
  • Joe Elton, Department of Conservation and Recreation




9:30 am

Breakout Sessions

Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Development Tool – Moderator: Jack Morgan, Friends of Southwest Virginia

  • Austin Bradley, Breaks Interstate Park

Entrepreneurship Fueled by The Creative Economy – Moderator: Shannon Blevins, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise

10:45 am

Breakout Sessions

Tourism & Marketing: Integrating Tourism Into Overall Economic & Community Development Efforts
–  Moderator: Steve Galyean, Virginia Tourism Corporation

  • Leah Ross, Birthplace of Country Music

New Trends In Economic Development – Anthony Flaccavento


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.

Coming Soon – New Location!

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.

Bob's at Barter
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