2019-2023 A Blueprint for Opportunity

We believe LYH is one of the best small cities in the country.
Every resident and business has the opportunity to thrive in LYH. 

To be the best small city in America, the City of Lynchburg requires a deliberate strategy for competing for new investment and talent. In 2018, the Office of Economic Development & Tourism launched the Blueprint for Opportunity, a five-year strategic action plan built upon five key priorities: growing local businesses, engaging anchor institutions, filling workforce pipelines, enhancing quality of place, and communicating Lynchburg’s story to the world.

The world changed with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, we have stood with you in commitment to the health and wellbeing of our City. More than 75 business and city leaders stepped up to help reset the economic development strategy for the City of Lynchburg. You offered solutions to challenges and reiterated your priorities for our community. 

Download the 2021 Blueprint Reset for Resilience

Download the 2018-2023 Blueprint for Opportunity

Key Industries
Anchor Institutions

Learn More

Steering Committee
  • Anthony Andrews, Twenty23
  • Rosana Chaidez, N.B. Handy
  • Katie Conner, Virginia Tourism Corporation
  • Ben Copeland, Lynchburg City Schools
  • Kenny Craig, Liberty University
  • Michael Elliott, Centra Health
  • Jeff Fedorko, Riverside Runners
  • Wes Fugate, Randolph College
  • Rex Geveden, BWX Technologies, Inc.
  • Jamie Glass, Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance
  • Kenneth Hancock, U.S. Pipe
  • Todd Irby, Innovative Wireless Technologies
  • Elizabeth Narehood, Central Virginia Community College
  • Pat Price, Churches for Urban Ministry
  • Mort Sajadian, Amazement Square
  • Sally Selden, University of Lynchburg
  • Mike Shadler, Pacific Life
  • Dustin Slightham, 434 Marketing
  • Jeff Thompson, C.B. Fleet, A Prestige Brands Company
Engagement Process

A blueprint for opportunity is devised by and for the community it serves. While data analysis is important to determining trends, assets and challenges, input from local businesses and employees gives this analysis much-needed context. By providing a platform for community members to share their expertise and new ideas, we hope to generate a universal understanding of economic opportunity among public, private, and governmental partners. This process of convening local stakeholders is reflective of our broader mission to build meaningful relationships between industry players, service providers and anchor institutions. Our conversations with the following groups represent the beginning of a long-term effort to foster community engagement.

To arrive at a firm understanding of the City’s many assets and challenges, we at the City of Lynchburg hosted a series of roundtable discussions on a detailed list of topics. Over the course of the interview process, we gave equal voice to public stakeholders, private partners and community service providers. To fortify our efforts, we enlisted Steven Pedigo, a nationally recognized economic development strategy consultant who has advised and collaborated with more than 50 cities, universities, developers, nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies to build more creative, innovative and inclusive communities. Our efforts also tapped into the expertise of the following key players:

  • Steering Committee. The steering committee consisted of Economic Development Authority (EDA) members, local businesses, major employers, universities and entrepreneurs. The group met monthly to determine the overall direction of the project and offer advice on benchmarks, research conclusions, cluster strengths, target industries, strategy, vision and implementation. As champions of the City’s economic development strategy, these members will spearhead its execution alongside the Office of Economic Development and Tourism and other City departments.

  • City Council and the Economic Development Authority. Conversations with the Lynchburg City Council helped to define the factors influencing today’s economic development efforts. The Council also weighed in on the City of Lynchburg’s unique challenges as an independent city and helped identify various benchmarks. Moving forward, these leaders will continue to provide input for our economic development strategy and help identify resources needed to support the plan. As elected and appointed community members, they serve as a direct line between the Lynchburg Office of Economic Development and Tourism and the public.

  • Startup and Entrepreneurship. We met with local entrepreneurs, small business support organizations and founders of local businesses to consider what makes the City of Lynchburg a unique environment for entrepreneurship. In addition to identifying certain action steps, our conversation pinpointed target clusters that have demonstrated the greatest need for talent or capital.

  • Industry. Our conversation with Lynchburg’s leading employers focused on the factors influencing development across industry sectors. In addition to discussing the City’s advantages, including its skilled workforce and engaged business community, we addressed various challenges such as a lack of transportation or airport connectivity, insufficient talent pipelines and real estate constraints.

  • Brain Gain. We met with workforce development professionals, K-12 educators, local employers and members of the creative class to discuss what makes City of Lynchburg an appealing place to live and work. Our conversation centered on methods of talent attraction and retention, particularly with regard to creating “boomerang” citizens (those who return to the city where they once lived). Additionally, we focused on ways to improve Lynchburg’s skills pipeline by connecting local businesses to workforce development opportunities.

  • Tourism and Placemaking. Our tourism and placemaking session convened tourism officials, Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) representatives, restaurant owners, historical site operators, recreation companies and downtown promoters. Together, they discussed how to leverage Lynchburg’s “quality of place” assets to drive economic development. Participants also addressed obstacles to making Lynchburg an ideal destination for tourists.

  • Neighborhoods and Urban Renewal. Our conversation on neighborhoods and urban renewal convened local real estate professionals, community developers and planners, and community advocates. Their discussion recognized City of Lynchburg as a collection of neighborhoods that requires a strategy for inclusive prosperity, which prioritizes the needs of all citizens.

LYH’s inclusive and prosperous future is built upon six values:

  • Opportunity. We commit to economic opportunity for all residents and enterprises.
  • Innovation. We invest in the ideas and enterprises that create tomorrow’s solutions.
  • Collaboration. We build value-added collaborations among partners, businesses, and organizations.
  • Resiliency. We prepare for long-term economic health and sustainability.
  • Inclusion. We promote a sense of belonging and connection for all residents.
  • Public investment. We invest in quality of place and community well-being to support job creation and
    attract investment.
Goal 1 - Support and Grow LYH Businesses and Destination Assets

The growth of existing businesses, anchors and destination assets are our number one economic development priority. An estimated 70 percent of all jobs are created through the expansion of local companies. These companies and organizations are already invested in the City of Lynchburg and are essential players in building long-term inclusive
prosperity that ensures LYH recovers from the economic and community impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will achieve success by:

  • Building effective relationships and resources to develop and grow existing businesses and destination assets
  • Delivering the support small businesses need to achieve long-term sustainability and resilience
  • Engaging anchor institutions to achieve shared goals
Goal 2 - Drive Long-Term Economic Growth and Resilience

LYH has a unique natural and built environment to support business growth. However, we must continue to invest in site development to attract investment to the city and provide jobs in a post-pandemic future. The City must also cultivate and leverage its authentic community and cultural assets to drive destination development and attract
visitors back to LYH.

We will achieve success by:

  • Examining sites and infrastructure, including redevelopment opportunities, needed to drive business location
  • Providing tools to leverage investment by new and existing companies
  • Driving revenue through destination development, meetings, and sports tourism
Goal 3 - Position LYH as the Best Small City in America

Economic development is only as powerful as the story it tells, especially during a time when communities are battling head-to-head for talent and investment. To be competitive in a post-pandemic future, LYH must communicate a compelling narrative that demonstrates the city’s strong sense of culture, community and pride.

We will achieve success by:

  • Implementing a city-wide brand and marketing campaign
  • Promoting LYH as an attractive destination by curating experiences for residents and visitors
  • Investing in quality of place, enhancing the image of LYH as a place to live and work