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.


Darrell Blankenship, Southwest Virginia Workforce Investment Board Area 1


Jennifer H. Lalli, President of Nanosonic


Neighboring Creative Economy Initiatives

Todd Christensen


Jared Arnett, Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc.


Kristi Bailey, West Virginia University Extension Service


Tom Johnson, The Winding Road/Somerset, Ohio


Agency Heads Panel 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


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


Spotlight Southwest Virginia – Jim Baldwin

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

Senator Mark Warner (Pre-Recorded Video)


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


Chris McKlarney, Giles County


Sherry Hilton, Scott County Horse Association


Farm to Table

Kathlyn Terry, Appalachian Sustainable Development


Entrepreneurship Fueled by The Creative Economy 

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


Ellen Reynolds, Beagle Ridge Herb Farm


Jennifer Bailey,

10:45 am

Breakout Sessions


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


Matt Hankins, franklin County


Pat Sharkey, Floyd County Tourism Director


Leah Ross, Birthplace of Country Music


Cora Gnegy, Giles County


New Frontiers In Building The Creative Economy 

Moderator: Anthony Flaccavento, President, SCALE, Inc and organic farmer, Abingdon, Virginia

 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, Founder and President, ACME Panel, Radford, Virginia


Alice Maggio, Local Currency Director, the Schumacher Center for New Economies, Massachusetts

Spirits of the Southwest Virginia

Moderator: Ken Heath


Brewery – Adam Woodsen, Damascus Brewery

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