09 November 2006

Cville's Future: A Long-Term Investment

One of the issues that has been brought up frequently in the past year is how to grow our economical base here in Cville. It's an issue tied in to the growth of Albemarle County and resultant sprawl, and anyone who has sat in on a Board of Supervisors session or gone to an Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population meeting--or even read the local papers more than once a week--is aware of how anti-growth our area is becoming.

It's not all growth that most Cvillians object to. In particular, it is the wasteful retail sprawl growth that rips up our beautiful rural character while providing very little for our long-term economy that is most offensive to us. To address that, both the Albemarle BoS and the Charlottesville City Council have had an informal, ongoing dialogue with the public and with the organizations that matter (e.g., Chamber of Commerce, Planning Commissions, Darden, etc.) about what kinds of development and business we should be trying to attract. Often, casually (in public at least), biotechnology and other, similarly high-end industry has been suggested.

Buried beneath the election & Rumsfeld snapshots in yesterday's Daily Progress is a great article on just that kind of industry, and the investment/commitment level attracting it would require. According to interviewee Steven Burke,
Smart places and smart policy leaders will work to apply the technology appropriately to their dominant natural or economic resources, and not just work to gain another drug company. The technology has application to far more than human health. The engine, then, will be sector and regionally driven. For that reason, the North Carolina Biotech-nology Center has established five regional offices across the state of North Carolina, to both target and capture specific areas of application.

It's time for a clear assessment of our potential economic strengths as a region, beyond that of Colonial Tourist Mecca, and I am very much looking forward to that discussion.

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