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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Tech center wins top national award

By Clara B. Cox

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 15 - December 7, 1995

The Economic Development Assistance Center (EDAC), a unit in Virginia Tech's Public Service Programs, has won first place in the economic-development category of a competition sponsored by the National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers (NAMTAC). The center won the national award for its efforts in 1994 to help the small town of Hillsville, the county seat of Carroll County, develop a comprehensive economic-development strategy.

Last year, the center took the Student Planning Project Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association for its work with Hillsville.

"This project was completed by a graduate-student studio class and is an excellent example of the high-quality results our students are capable of achieving," said Michael Hensley, EDAC director.

According to Hensley, even though Hillsville continues to be the economic center of Carroll County, it has been experiencing years of economic decline and wanted to position itself for future growth. EDAC helped the town facilitate the process as a steering committee developed into a community-wide effort that drew participation from over 60 local residents.

The center conducted community-assessment interviews with steering-committee members and town leaders, then worked with the steering committee to conduct a series of public meetings to discuss community issues and concerns and to develop goals. "Throughout the process, we conducted extensive research and data collection," Hensley said.

The final phase of the project required the town to develop plans for implementation and evaluation processes.

"As a result of these strategic planning efforts, the Town of Hillsville and Carroll County have joined together to recruit and develop businesses. Their efforts have been fruitful, with one 300-employee manufacturing firm already located in their jointly owned and operated industrial park," Hensley said.

The award is the second one EDAC has won from NAMTAC.

The National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers is composed principally of centers affiliated with institutions of higher education. Its members work to help transfer academic-based information and knowledge to communities and businesses to further economic development and enhance industrial productivity.

NAMTAC sponsors the national competition each year to recognize outstanding projects conducted by its member organizations.