New Way Forward for Charlottesville

By: Jummy Olabanji Email
By: Jummy Olabanji Email

January 28, 2007

The Virginia Piedmont Technology council says that Charlottesville is headed in a direction where it will soon have to decide what kind of city it wants to be.

Will it end up like Austin, Texas or more like Aspen, Colorado?

VPTC Chairman, Gary Henry explains the difference, “If you look at Aspen, Colorado it's a very expensive place to live and it has almost no middle class in it.”

No middle class, because aspen is full of wealthy families and a large retirement community.

“Austin is a destination that I think is a little more attractive than Aspen, Colorado. It has, like Charlottesville, a very large university. But, it has a very thriving technology community. It also has a fairly strong arts community, something I think that’s already starting to become fairly strong here in Charlottesville,” said Henry.

The 200 member companies in our area that make up the VPTC all agree on the same thing: “How technology can be used to balance the economy to provide a better diversity in both the people who live here and in the jobs that are available,” said Henry.

The way Charlottesville is right now there is hardly a middle class.

There is also a lack of 25 to 44-year-olds.

Why, because as students graduate there are no jobs for them to go to.

“When the University of Texas graduates in engineers, they are able to retain of the graduates of UT 40% of them where as UVA is keeping a very small number, less than 1% we are estimating,” said Henry.

As a city, the VPTC wants Charlottesville to be headed in the same direction as Austin.

“They have a very nice culturally diverse economy, with a fairly strong middle class, with a fairly large segment of 25 to 44-year-olds and I think that's something that would be nice to add to our economy to provide balance,” said Henry.

The VPTC’s goal is promote our area as a great home for technology businesses.

Henry also says that one of the first ways to get this plan going is to have discussions.

The VPTC has scheduled a handful of town hall meetings that everyone in the community is invited to attend.

The next town council meeting is on February 22nd.

For more information and to be directed to the VPTC website, please click on the news links tab.

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