Explained: Attending an out-of-state college/university

by Deanna Driver and Emily Logue —

In-state universities are often cheaper and closer to home, but out-of-state institutions have the ability to provide more opportunities.

Out-of-state students choose their university for a variety of reasons, but once they arrive on campus, their experiences and community reassure their decision. This is displayed on both a national level as well as with Virginia Tech students.  

ADHD med shortage requires patients to seek alternatives

by Cyna Mirzai-

Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 16, 2023 — The nationwide shortage of the common ADHD medication Adderall is leading patients to test new forms of medication. Photo credit: Cyna Mirzai

A shortage of the immediate-release formulation of amphetamine mixed salts, commonly referred to by the brand name Adderall, has been ongoing since October 12, 2022. A direct stimulant on the central nervous system, Adderall is a medication prescribed to people diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

According to the FDA, one of the manufacturers of amphetamine mixed salts, Teva, is experiencing ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays. While there are other manufacturers producing amphetamine, there is not enough supply to continue meeting U.S. market demand through those producers. 

A rise in demand for Adderall is a large contributor to the shortage, with an increase of almost 20% in 2021 over 2020. Chad Alvarez, System Pharmacy Director of Carilion Clinic Roanoke, said he noticed an increase in demand from patients in the past few years.

“During the pandemic, people were working at home or helping their children with their schoolwork and many began noticing symptoms of ADHD,” Alvarez said. “With the increased use of telemedicine during the pandemic, we saw an increase in demand for those types of prescriptions.”

Many patients are currently prohibited from calling ahead to pharmacies asking about Adderall, since the treatment is a labeled controlled substance by the DEA, according to HCPLive.  A legally controlled substance cannot be transferred from one pharmacy to another, leading many patients to look for temporary alternatives to Adderall.

Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 16, 2023 — The shortage has led Main Street Pharmacy to turn away customers in need of Adderall since late last year. Photo credit: Cyna Mirzai

Alternatives work differently for patients depending on their particular case, Alvarez said. Whether it is an adult who used Adderall for years or a child who was prescribed last month, the benefits of each alternative provide varying results. 

“I always encourage patients to have a conversation with their provider on alternatives,” Alvarez said. “Other ADHD medications like Focalin, Vyvanse, Concerta and Ritalin are currently available in higher quantities and can treat attention deficit issues. It is definitely worth the conversation with your provider to figure out what will work best for you.”

An alternative for patients who currently have Adderall pills is to begin dose-skipping. Patients can skip a dose on days when attentiveness is not critical to accumulate a reserve that will last them longer through the shortage, if advised by a doctor.

If patients do not want to try alternatives, they can choose to stay off medication until the shortage ends, but Dr. Jeremy Courts, owner of Main Street Pharmacy in Blacksburg, warns patients to be prepared for shifts in behavioral changes.

“You probably won’t have intense withdrawal symptoms but you’re going to be irritable and have trouble focusing,” Courts said. “When you don’t have Adderall but need Adderall, your quality of life goes down.”

As of now, the shortage is expected to continue through April 2023.

NRV programs combat rising opioid overdose fatality rates

by Savannah Webb-

Feb. 17, 2023 — Blacksburg, Va. — An bottle of hydrocodone that was prescribed by a Montgomery County hospital sits empty in a trashcan. The overprescription of opioids has been connected to the birth of the opioid epidemic.

The National Center for Health Statistics released 2022 data that shows a spike in fatal opioid overdoses in the US over the months of February and March.

“It’s devastating,” said Glenn Matthews, director of substance abuse and diversion services for New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS). “It’s just awful. It’s devastating economically, and it’s devastating to families. Fentanyl is at the center of a lot of those overdoses.”

The most recent drug overdose data from 2021 shows that Pulaski County — one of the five counties NRVCS serves — had the highest death rate in the NRV with 50.1 per 100,000 residents. Synthetic opioids, under which fentanyl is classified, were the cause of a majority of those deaths.

To combat these rising overdose rates, NRVCS offers a full continuum of care. According to Matthews, their services have a systemic and personalized nature that larger providers cannot accommodate for, ranging from an hourlong weekly therapy session to residential 24/7 care.

While this is extremely beneficial to the community, he explained that they cannot provide enough services for the demand necessary to treat the large number of individuals who need it.

Feb. 17, 2023 — Radford, Va. — The sign for Radford’s New River Valley Community Services center stands as the only thing to distinguish a nondescript brick building in a strip mall.

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” Matthews said. “The large majority of individuals need to repeat that treatment six or seven times or more. It’s a long, long process.”

In addition to the intervention services — support groups, therapy and rehabilitation — NRVCS provides, preventative education and emergency training are also critical to ending the opioid epidemic, according to Ashley LeDuc, associate director of substance misuse prevention and intervention with Hokie Wellness.

One of the most prevalent emergency training programs is REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education. The program teaches community members how to recognize and respond to a potentially fatal overdose.

“It’s the easiest way to save someone’s life,” LeDuc said. “To use Naloxone it really is just using nasal spray. Even if you aren’t trained, you can still use it — it’s one of the legal protections out there.”

Online REVIVE! training is available through NRVCS, and Hokie Wellness offers multiple in-person sessions as well. Hokie Wellness training sessions provide historical context about the opioid epidemic, as well as a sample of Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug, for trainees to take with them, according to LeDuc.

“It really is anybody that could experience an overdose,” LeDuc said. “You learn a lot about where opioid use disorder starts, which is with prescriptions that are given from doctors, and it works to destigmatize it.”

In addition to addiction itself, NRVCS hopes to use its services to address stigma in the community surrounding addiction.

“Addiction is not a choice,” Matthews said. “The only choice that’s involved in addiction is the first time someone picks up the substance. Once the brain gets addicted, choice is out the window. It is a serious illness.”

NRV schools implement policy filtering teaching materials

by Caden Dean-Sauter-

Montgomery County Public Schools have implemented their version of a Virginia Department of Education mandate forcing teachers to fill out a form regarding any explicit sexual content used in class.

The policy went into effect in January and requires all K-12 teachers to fill out a form documenting every usage of materials that include nudity, and then defend why the materials are necessary to the lesson. 

The form that teachers must fill out for every material used that contains sexually explicit content. (Dean-Sauter/2023)

According to the Code of Virginia, § 18.2-390, “ “Nudity” means a state of undress so as to expose the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a full opaque covering, or the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple, or the depiction of covered or uncovered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state.”

“Images of the natural human body (nudity) can be found on just about every page of our textbook and are referenced daily,” said Beth Patterson, an anatomy teacher at Auburn High School.

But while it may seem like just a life sciences issue, the policy affects all teachers. History teachers must document uses of classic art, such as the Statue of David, and English teachers must scour through books they teach looking for anything that fits into the description of nudity or sexual conduct.

“The problem is, the strength of literature is its context, its theme, its characterization, its art, not if the word breast or buttocks appears in a sentence,” said Ariel Hylton, a 12th-grade English teacher also at Auburn.

All of these books contain references to sexually explicit content and had to be documented. Taken on Feb. 16, 2023. (DNR/Caden Dean-Sauter)

Both teachers also noted the irony of having to defend what they are teaching, as parents are often just focused on one instance of something that might fall under the VDOE’s umbrella of sexual content, not the lesson as a whole. 

“No English teacher is peddling pornography to their students,” said Hylton. “We traffic in literature that deals with the human condition- messy, ugly, beautiful, and complex. In doing so, we challenge our students, the readers, to look beyond their own experiences, to have empathy, to be tolerant, to be more than their own experiences might expect of them.”

Ms. Patterson also mentioned how a current list of instructional materials with sexually explicit content by grade and subject will be maintained on the school’s website for the public to access.  As materials are added to the list, teachers provide written notice to parents at least thirty days prior to their use in the classroom. If parents have issues with the material being taught, they can challenge the material, forcing teachers to assign alternate work. 

“The textbook as a whole is presented to parents who will have the right to determine whether or not they want their child exposed to the images it contains – I fear for a generation of medical students who have not seen the human body other than in the mirror,” said Patterson. 

So far, no teacher at Auburn has had material challenged.

Gen Z preference: Cocktails or Mocktails

By Kayla Frank

Photo by Kayla Frank Jan. 24, 2023, Top of the Stairs bartenders awaiting customers.

(BLACKSBURG, V.a)- The rise of alcohol-free bars can be attributed to the increasing mindfulness of drinking habits, with Gen Zers leading this new transformation of a fun night out. 

Third Place Bar offers bar pop-ups, without the booze. Located in Brooklyn, New York, the zero-proof bar caters to a new culture of sober-curious lifestyles. But what would offering only mocktails and non-alcoholic beer look like in a college town? 

While sober curious lifestyles and mindful drinking is a trend among Generation Z, those attending university are more likely to experiment with alcohol along with their newfound independence and availability of social events.

Through research from the Alcohol Rehab Guide, it was estimated that 80% of college students- four out of every five- consume alcohol to some degree, and roughly 50% of those students engage in binge drinking, or consume too much alcohol in too little time.

Although the pandemic may have stalled downtown activity, Blacksburg is buzzing again with bars and billiards for college students attending Virginia Tech. 

Blacksburg bouncer and barback at Top of the Stairs, Jake Hart, noted that if anything, more students have been coming to the bars since the decline of COVID-19. 

“When the football team played Miami University in the fall, we were so packed that we literally ran out of vodka and Bud Lite,” said Hart, “We broke nearly every record we could.” 

Gen Z’s refined awareness of the consequences of alcohol consumption is shown in sales research from Drizly. The largest online marketplace for alcohol in North America issued a 2022 consumer report that conveyed that 38% of Gen Z respondents are drinking more non-alcoholic beverages than in the previous year. A high percentage when compared to that of Millennials (25%), Gen X (15%) and Boomers (8%). 

A bartender at Sharkey’s in Blacksburg, Bobby Johnson, get’s the occasional order for a mocktail and has a couple of regulars who just ask for Diet Coke. 

“I don’t think I’ve seen a trend of drinking less, but I do see people being more mindful of what they consume with their alcohol,” said Johnson, “For example, more people have mixed hard liquor with water than I’ve seen in previous years, and the shift to spiked seltzer from beer has also been tremendous.” 

Photo by Kayla Frank Jan. 20, 2023, Sharkey’s Bar front in Blacksburg, Virginia.

One factor promoting mindfulness is the availability of information at Gen Z’s fingertips. Hashtags like #Sobertok have gone viral on social media platforms such as Tik Tok.

Striving for unique experiences, Gen Z has forced bars to be creative and provide special events such as trivia, bingo, axe throwing, and even paint and sip nights. 

“I think a non-alcoholic bar could make it in Blacksburg, only if it offered some sort of gimmick to draw people in,” said Johnson, “On bingo and trivia night, people come in just to play and eat, so it could definitely work.”

Dining out vs. cooking in as inflation rises

by Emaryi Williams-

Restaurants are still open for business on Main Street in Blacksburg, even as inflation rises on Jan. 30, 2023. (Photo: Emaryi Williams)

BLACKSBURG — The prices for food increased last year by 10.4%, the largest yearly increase since 1981, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics’s Economics Daily

The Consumer Price Index refers to the ​​measure of economy-wide inflation, which has impacted many consumer goods and services, including food prices.

“This is important because it gave us important information about cost of living,” said Virginia Tech economic professor Shaowen Luo about the relevance of the consumer price index.

Luo explains that it is not the absolute price changes that are affecting the everyday American, but the relative price change.

“If everything in the U.S. market increased by 10.4%, including your wage, then your life is not affected,” she explained. For those who did not see a 10.4% income increase, Lou says the rise in food prices may impact their lives.

According to Blacksburg officials, the city is currently seeking ways to combat food insecurity in the area.

“We got some ARPA funds from the federal government,” said Blacksburg Town Manager, Marc Verniel. “One of the projects we’re looking at is to fund local nonprofits that are already helping people get good healthy food.”

Virginia Tech Professor of Finance Derek Klock list many factors to consider that have affected inflation, including the coronavirus, the war in Ukraine and increased demand.

“Whenever you have a supply chain disruption to the extent we’ve had over the past three years globally, all prices are going to rise,” he said.

The cost of a dozen large eggs at a grocery store chain in Blacksburg has risen to more than seven dollars due to inflation on Jan. 30, 2023. (Photo: Emaryi Williams)

While both stores and restaurants have seen spikes in food prices, according to a 2023 Food Price Outlook created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, between September 2021 and September 2022, the prices of food in restaurants increased up to 8.5%, while the prices of food at stores increased 13%.

“I feel like going out and eating in ends up costing the same in the end because groceries are pretty expensive,” said Emma Larkin, a Virginia Tech off-campus student who frequents Kroger.

Despite price differences, Professor Klock warns the public about assuming that prices at restaurants will always compare better than those at the grocery store.

“Grocery store prices have gone up a lot, and restaurants will have to follow suit. Eventually, restaurants are going to have to pass on those increased prices to consumers,” he predicts.

Klock explains that since the pandemic, restaurants have held back passing raised prices to customers because people have just started eating out again. He says, for restaurants to stay in business, they are going to have to raise their prices soon.

Jan. 30, 2023 – Despite prices in Blacksburg, drivers and customers can be seen flocking to restaurants and bars on Main Street. (Photo: Emaryi Williams)

Professor Luo says, there are many aspects to consider when determining whether eating in or eating out is more costly.

Diet is one that she specified as a critical factor. A vegan and vegetarian diet could cut a person’s food costs by up to one-third, according to a study done by the Lancet Planetary Health.

“Some people may value having food outside much higher than cooking at home,” Luo said. “It also depends on your budget constraint – whether you are high-income people or low-income people. So, it’s complicated.”

Constant congestion on I-81: Are college students to blame?

by Deanna Driver-

Travelers drive on a relatively empty Interstate 81 in Christiansburg, Va. on Sunday, Jan. 29.  Photo by Deanna Driver, Jan. 29, 2023.

Around 48,000 vehicles pass through Virginia on Interstate 81 (I-81) in a given day, with 26-35% of that traffic being tractor trailers, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. With this influx of people and large vehicles, 50% of delays on I-81 are due to accidents, compared to only 16% on other major Virginia highways. 

Congestion has long been an issue on I-81, especially in areas around Christiansburg and Roanoke. Dan Brugh, executive director of the New River Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), said that interstates like I-495 in Northern Virginia have traffic more so because of volume, not accidents, like I-81.

I-81 cuts through the New River Valley (NRV), which has a population of around 180,000, via their informational site. Included is Virginia Tech, a large state-run university, which houses around 37,000 students and over 2,000 employees, according to their official website. With this many people only miles away from I-81, congestion linked to Virginia Tech students seems to be likely.

While approximately 100,000 students are on the I-81 corridor in Virginia, surprisingly, they don’t necessarily contribute much to accident statistics in the NRV specifically. However, Brugh did state that a lot of accidents on this major roadway can be attributed to “inexperienced drivers,” which is a category college students could arguably fall into.

This is not the case for every area in the state. Ann Cundy, Director of Transportation with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, attributed congestion in the Harrisonburg area more to James Madison University (JMU), especially since the school straddles the major roadway, whereas Virginia Tech does not. 

“JMU employs nearly 3,000 people. They are what we call a major trip generator and attractor, so yes, JMU employees and others who live outside Harrisonburg and drive in each day contribute to congestion on I-81,” Cundy stated. 

Between the mile markers of 240-250 in Harrisonburg, there is significant congestion in the morning and evening, not only attributable to JMU, but also to large businesses in the area, such as the Cargill and Marshall plants. 

One of the main problem areas on I-81 in the NRV is from Christiansburg (exit 114) to Ironto (exit 128) going southbound. Here, the road is two lanes wide and twists through the mountains at differing grades with a speed limit recommending 65 miles per hour. 

Though constant congestion is an ongoing problem on many parts of I-81, there are solutions transportation experts have explored. According to the “Virginia Places” website, in 2019, former governor Ralph Northam proposed a toll system on I-81 that would provide funding for roadway improvement projects. This proposal was unfavorable for many, including locals and truckers, and ultimately, didn’t go through.

Despite Interstate 81 being the major roadway in the New River Valley, there are other alternative or connecting routes travelers can take to get from place to place that are likely to be less congested. Photo by Deanna Driver, Jan. 29, 2023.

Despite housing 29 universities/colleges on the I-81 corridor in Virginia, for the NRV, student and faculty runoff does not attribute to a large portion of stoppage concerns. Solutions do not include pushing for reduced student traffic on the roadway.

Ultimately, projects to improve I-81 and overall, reduce traffic incidents, will require a lot of funding and time to fully improve the vehicular flow in these highly congested areas. Transportation directors and officers are actively working to combat this problem and hope to find solutions in the upcoming years.

Managing mental health as a first responder

By Anthony Cusat-

A Virginia Tech Rescue Squad ambulance is parked outside the station in preparation for a call in Blacksburg, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Photo: Anthony Cusat)

In the event of some of the scariest medical emergencies, first responders can be seen as pillars of hope and strength. However, it is impossible to assume there is not a mental toll that comes at the price of helping others.

Riley*, an emergency medical technician located in the Harrisonburg area, is one of many emergency medical service (EMS) providers who has seen the intersection between mental health and the job firsthand. When discussing the effect of traumatic calls, Riley said that it is not necessarily the anxiety of performing duties in the moment but the aftermath that leaves a lasting impression. 

“When you see family members and friends grieving over the loss of someone, especially in such a traumatic way, it really really takes a toll on you,” said Riley, after detailing a gruesome on-call death. Even years later, Riley still experiences reminders of the incident when passing the spot where it took place.

Unfortunately, Riley’s experience is not unique to first responders. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 30 percent of first responders develop mental health conditions like depression and posttraumatic stress disorder which is 10 percent higher than the general population. 

In one study, it was concluded that first responders are at an increased risk of alcohol consumption after incidents that involve the death of citizens or coworkers. Use rose incrementally for eight days and returned to normal after eight months. Riley said, “Something that I feel like has been normalized is coping unhealthily with that stress… It [drinking alcohol] kind of has turned into, for some people, a legitimate problem.”

With these numbers, there is an increased importance for first responders to have access to adequate mental health resources.

Administrative captain of Virginia Tech Rescue, Isabella Filippone, said, “It’s not about experiencing a traumatic event and then taking care of yourself, it’s about taking care of yourself so that you’re prepared to see those types of things.” While the vast majority of calls tend to be minor incidents, Filippone said finding ways to healthily cope with the stress of major emergencies makes a difference on well-being.

Isabella Filippone standing outside a Virginia Tech Rescue Vehicle in Blacksburg, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Photo: Anthony Cusat)

Among first responders, consistent themes for positive coping included having outlets to talk to and fostering a culture of openness. Riley, for example, is able to see a therapist that specializes in EMS-related trauma which they said helped them recognize lingering mental wounds.

Additionally, squad members rely on one another for needed support. Cameron Buck, assistant deputy chief of field operations at Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad said, “I would feel comfortable myself going to any of our officers and talking about a tough call, but I would also feel completely comfortable sending someone else to any of our officers.”

When referring to first responders, Buck said, “It’s a group of people who collectively want to serve something bigger than themselves.” Despite the potential tribulations, those who serve as EMS professionals still have unbounded love for what they do. 

*For confidentiality purposes, the name Riley is an alias.

Preserving historically African American schools in SW Virginia 

by Ashley Wynn-

Southwest Virginia provides a strong history for the African American community, and in efforts to preserve and educate individuals, T.G. Howard Community Center in Christiansburg is partnering alongside many historic sites to repurpose them into museums and learning facilities to lend a helping hand in educating the next generation. 

“There is a strong history in Southwest Virginia for my community and with the help of many people we have the ability to restore that and save it for future generations,” stated Guy Smith, the Executive Director of T.G. Howard Community Center.  

Wytheville, VA., circa 1940 –  Wytheville Training School in operation, educating young African Americans for over 80 years Photo: T.G. Howard Community Center

In 1867 the Freedmen’s Bureau began educating African Americans who were recently free from enslavement in Wytheville. The Evansham School District and Franklin Street Methodist Episcopal Church worked together to purchase the Freedmen’s School in 1882, in hopes of adding to the structure to create a building that would become a secondary school education for African American students in the late 1940s. The Wytheville Training School served the educational needs of students from Wythe, Bland, Carroll and Grayson Counties. The school closed in 1951, a few years after its opening, to take on another purpose: a memorial to Professor Richard Henry Scott, Jr., one of the first black educators in the region. The building has now been repurposed into a museum and culture center displaying its deep and impactful history. 

Pulaski, Va., circa 1940 – The Calfee Training School in Pulaski County supported and educated African Americans during segregation. Photo: T.G. Howard Community Center

From 1894 to 1996 Pulaski County educated African Americans at The Calfee Training School which operated as a community center and place of education. While the school was open it struggled to stay afloat with underfunding from Jim Crow segregation. Now, the building is currently under construction to become a childcare center and museum with the help of over three million dollars in grants and fundraising. The museum’s vision is to inspire the next generation and to display the history of the fight for equal education opportunities. 

Christiansburg, VA., circa 1950 – The Edgar A. Long Building in memorial to the principal of Christiansburg Industrial Institute. Photo: T.G. Howard Community Center

The Edgar A. Long Building was built in 1927 on the Christiansburg Industrial Institute campus. The building was built to honor Edgar Allen Long, a first-generation African American born free in the United States. Long was the principal at the Institute from 1906-1924, and he also served as president of the State Teachers Association and School Improvement League in 1911. The building is under renovation and is a standing reminder of the significant role the school played in the lives of African Americans. Historic preservations have been underway to reopen this Virginia Landmark as a reminder of its great and impactful history.

With the help of donations and support these organizations will continue to restore these buildings and others within the area.

Without state assistance, Pulaski County’s business development moves forward

The Pulaski County Administration Building in Pulaski, Virginia houses the office of Jonathan Sweet–the county administrator. Sweet has had his role since 2016. January 25, 2023.

By: Ben Walls

Though the county remains ineligible for state assistance for communities that once heavily relied on a tobacco economy, Pulaski County has proved to support their business-related growth.

Members of the House of Delegates Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources in the 2023 legislative session voted to table the General Assembly bill which would have added both Pulaski and Giles counties to the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Fund.

“I don’t know why these counties were not included in the original designation as we both have raised tobacco since the beginning of the colonies,” Pulaski County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Laura Walters said. “We are a hole in the middle.”

The commission’s funding specifically applies to economic growth projects in member counties. Officials from both counties–like Chairwoman Walters and Giles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey Morris–said personally they did not know where they would implement their assistance money.

County Administrator Jonathan Sweet says the county has worked extensively for Pulaski to reach eligibility that their neighboring counties have, however. Though Bland, Wythe, Carroll and Floyd are eligible for assistance, Sweet says it is just as important for Pulaski to give back to Southwest Virginia and the residents as it is for them to join the commission itself.

“Though Pulaski County is not in the region, we support through employment opportunities for a lot of citizens who do live in the tobacco region,” Sweet said.

If the tobacco commission were to grant Pulaski its kind of state assistance, the county would like to build a new community college, a regional airport and a regional industrial park. Along with its other priorities with or without the tobacco commission status, Pulaski has a goal for 40,000 residents to call it home by the year 2030 under Sweet’s leadership.

“It just makes more sense to have the resources from that commission to further invest in employment opportunities, educational opportunities and foundational community opportunities for the greater benefit for the citizens,” Sweet said. “Ultimately, that’s what we’re all working toward.”

According to Sweet, Pulaski must enter multi-faceted reform to reach their goal by 2030, including economic, workforce and retail development. Meanwhile, the county economic development authority and its small business solutions subsidiary have a strong presence in the community by helping newer small businesses and startups obtain permits. The small business solutions center also assists established businesses with marketing plans and reviews business plans for county organizations.

“We’ve received a lot of recognition locally for our small business efforts specifically just because not a lot of companies have a person or an office dedicated to small business,” said Pulaski County Small Business Solutions Director Lydia Gilmer, who has become the county’s go-to person for business owners navigating red tape. “What we want to see is a business moving in for a few years, kind of get their feet wet, take advantage of cheaper rent in a small space and then eventually grow out in the community. That’s what we really want to see.”

The Pulaski County Innovation Center in Fairlawn, Virginia houses the county small business solution center. According to county officials, not many counties have similar offices. January 30, 2023.

According to Gilmer, Pulaski has become an ideal locality for businesses for its affordability and accessibility for citizens. 40 of the county’s small businesses today are housed in the county’s innovation center where tenants can take advantage of the small business services and smaller amenities like a kitchen and gym. Gilmer says her attention to small business makes all the difference for business owners.

Under county leadership, Gilmer is confident for Pulaski to look “unrecognizable” within 3 to 5 years.