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The Early Childhood Workforce Crisis

Early childhood powerfully impacts life trajectories, including educational, employment, economic, and health outcomes. Early childhood professionals aren’t babysitters. They nurture the healthy development of young children. They encourage exploration, discovery, and a love of learning. They set children on a positive trajectory and promote school readiness. Early childhood professionals can positively impact hundreds of children throughout their careers. The NRV has an early childhood workforce crisis – a severe shortage of qualified early educators, harmful levels of stress and teacher turnover primarily due to poverty-level pay. The workforce crisis is negatively impacting the quality of our early childhood programs and therefore the children they serve. Excellent early educators are the foundation of quality early childhood programs, which yield immediate and lifelong benefits. We need to keep excellent early educators in the classroom inspiring lifelong learners, not leaving for better pay in restaurants and retail. The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) awarded Smart Beginnings NRV a 2019 Data Initiative Grant to collect and analyze early childhood workforce data, including data on credentials, education, early childhood experience, participation in professional development, compensation and benefits, future career plans, and more. The NRV Early Childhood Workforce Report will be released in September 2019. Some initial findings include: • Despite the importance of their work to the current and future workforce, the national average hourly wage of an early childhood educator is $12.93. The average wage is even lower in the NRV — $9.94 per hour. ● On average, NRV early educators with a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential earn $11.01 per hour. The national average is $12.80. ● Almost 60% of NRV early...

Partnership with New River Valley Commerce Park proves invaluable research opportunity for undergraduates

Students enrolled in two Artis College of Science and Technology courses conducted impactful undergraduate research at the New River Valley Commerce Park this year. Department of Physics professor Rhett Herman’s Geophysics class and Department of Anthropological Sciences professor Jake Fox’s Archeological Field School spent several weeks at the Park, located in Pulaski County, Virginia, during the spring and summer semesters to gather data that Park administrators will use as an integral tool to assess the 1,000-acre site and attract potential tenants. The New River Valley Commerce Park opened in 2002 and is owned by Virginia’s First Regional Industrial Facility Authority (VFRIFA), which is comprised of 11 member localities: the Counties of Bland, Craig, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and Roanoke; Cities of Radford and Roanoke; and Towns of Dublin, Pearisburg, and Pulaski. These localities have been critical to the advancement of the park, which acquired its first anchor, Red Sun Farms, LLC, in 2014. “Having Radford University students use the New River Valley Commerce Park as a learning laboratory not only provides students with a unique learning environment, but the data collected helps inform development decisions of the Park,” said Mary Biggs, VFRIFA Board chair. “We also believe that exposing students to the greater community will encourage them to stay here after graduation and use their knowledge and talents to help grow the greater New River Valley.” Radford University’s partnership with the Park blossomed in the spring of 2017 through Herman’s connection with Christy Straight, senior planner for the New River Valley Regional Commission, and VFRIFA Executive Director Danny Wilson. Together, they agreed that Herman’s PHYS/GEOL 406 – Geophysics class would...

2019-20 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

The NRVRC is in the process of updating the New River Valley Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) document for 2019-20.  The CEDS provides a review of economic data and conditions for NRVRC jurisdictions, identifies goals and strategies that help to addresses these regional issues, and prioritizes regional economic development projects that the region can undertake to achieve these goals.

RIDE Solutions Rewards Paying Off for FloydFest Carpoolers

RIDE Solutions Rewards Paying Off for FloydFest Carpoolers

RIDE Solutions teamed up this year with FloydFest’s producers to offer carpooling incentives for festival goers. Encouraging attendees to use carpooling to reduce their costs, their environmental footprint, and the parking headache has been an annual challenge.

Pulaski County Comprehensive Plan Update

Pulaski County recently conducted a community survey as part of the comprehensive plan update process. This was a broad public engagement effort to identify community priorities and desires which is essential for developing various aspects and elements of the Comprehensive Plan and to guide the County’s future.

Town of Christiansburg Planning Grant

The Regional Commission has been working with the Town of Christiansburg to administer a Planning Grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission.