Radford University recently held a public forum to generate ideas from Radford citizens on how to facilitate economic growth and strengthen community relationships with the city.
The meeting was hosted by RU’s Economic Development and Community Partnership sub-group, which is one of nine committees that make up a taskforce slated with creating a five-year strategic plan (2018-2023) for the university.
Over 80 people showed up for last Thursday’s meeting held at the recreation center where George Low, dean of the university’s business college and co-chair of the sub-group, encouraged attendees to participate in an open dialogue.
“We’re looking for big ideas related to economic development locally and regionally and to renew relationships,” Low said. “That could be anything from how Radford University, as a community citizen, can be more involved in strengthening the community, all the way to providing educational opportunities to Radford citizens. It could be a lot of different things.”
Citizens suggested a variety of ideas to strengthen city/university relationships such as: reopening RU’s small business development center, university sponsored tutoring programs for K-12 students, inviting the community to campus events and overall better communication about university activities that might interest the community.
There were numerous ideas on how to grow the economy, with the most popular ones focusing on utilizing the city’s outdoor resources. People seemed to like the idea of expanding existing hiking/biking trails and parks as well as commercial riverfront development.
Mayor Bruce Brown, who was among several local officials in attendance, said after the meeting that the latter has been discussed by the city, which even has prototype for riverfront expansion from a past comprehensive plan.
Other ideas involved RU students and faculty could provide services and expertise to meet community needs, support and assist business and workforce development, retain graduates to work and live in Radford and the New River Valley.
Participants also discussed ideas for recruiting industry to the region, thus providing more jobs, a point Vice Mayor Dick Harshberger, as well as Low, really emphasized as a key component to growing the local economy.
The university’s strategic planning task force, created by President Brian O. Hemphill, includes sub-groups that are focused on academic excellence and research; brand identity; budget; challenges and opportunities; economic development and community partnerships; mission, vision and core values; philanthropic giving and alumni engagement; strategic enrollment growth; and student success.
Many of the university’s strategic planning sub-groups include community members and business leaders in addition to university faculty, staff, students and alumni. For more details on the groups and it’s members, go to www.radford.edu/content/strategic-planning/home.html.
Community input is still be accepted until Jan. 31 at: http://tinyurl.com/zsgpjve.