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Roanoke, VA City Profile


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Roanoke, Virginia


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The first pioneers explored the Roanoke Valley region as early as the 17th century. An exploration party's report in 1671 told of the "blue mountains and a snug flat valley beside the upper Roanoke River." For the next seventy years, after this initial exploration, the region remained undisturbed by settlers.

As the land to the east of the mountains became developed, pioneers began moving into the western regions of Virginia. These early settlers from eastern Virginia were joined by people from Pennsylvania seeking new lands in the rich Shenandoah Valley. The newcomers began farming in the Roanoke Valley by 1740.

As tradesmen and farmers moved into the region, new counties and communities were established. Botetourt County, VA was created in 1769, with the town of Fincastle as its seat. For a short period, the vast county stretched westward to the Mississippi River. Roanoke County, VA was separated from Botetourt County, VA in 1838. Craig County, VA was formed in 1851 from Botetourt County, VA, Roanoke County, VA, Giles and Monroe Counties, with New Castle as its seat.

Towns formed within what is now the city of Roanoke in the first decades of the 19th Century. Antwerp was subdivided in 1801 followed by Gainesborough in 1825 (the present Gainsboro neighborhood) and Old Lick in 1834. The Gainesborough settlement remained the most populous community until 1874 when the Town of Big Lick was chartered. This tiny village of less than five hundred people was to become the town of Roanoke in 1882 and in 1884, the city of Roanoke. The new town was located along the old Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad later to become the Norfolk and Western.

The completion of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad from Hagerstown, MD, to its junction with the newly formed Norfolk & Western Railway in 1882, marked the start of Roanoke's rapid growth. The adjacent town of Vinton, VA was also incorporated at this time.

The town of Salem, VA, established in 1806, became the county seat for Roanoke County, VA. Salem, VA was the largest town within the area during these formative years and was located on two stage lines. Salem, VA remained the major center of activity in the Roanoke area until the mid 1880's and then became an independent city in 1968.

A geographic location west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and midway of the "great valley" between Maryland and Tennessee, has been the key to Roanoke's growth. A transportation center, the community has flourished as the one of the major hubs of the Norfolk Southern Corporation. Air passenger and freight needs are handled at the Roanoke Regional Airport. A network of fine modern highways has attracted numerous interstate motor freight lines to establish terminals.

The Roanoke Valley is western Virginia's center for industry, trade, health, education, travel, conventions and entertainment.


Roanoke, Virginia is located midway between New York, NY and Atlanta, GA on Interstate 81, 168 miles west of the state capital, Richmond, VA. The city is the center of one of Virginia's largest metropolitan regions, and a hub of transportation, finance, and industry for the southwestern part of the state. The scenic beauty of the Roanoke Valley, located between the Blue Ridge and the Virginia Alleghany Highlands, makes the city a pleasant as well as an economically diverse place to live and work. The city's position on the East Coast gives it ready access to close to two-thirds of the total population of the nation within a radius of 500 miles.


The Roanoke post office is a management sectional center covering the 240-245 zip code areas. The facility has 140,000 square feet under roof on a site of 11 acres in central Roanoke, easily accessible by highway and a major primary roadway.

The facility ships approximately one million pieces of mail daily. Several daily dedicated transports connect the Roanoke office with the Greensboro, NC bulk mail center, one of the most modern, up-to-date centers in the country. The Roanoke office itself is a fully mechanized and automated area distribution center, with two letter sorting machines, two optical character readers, two bar code sorters, one flat sorter and a call face cancel operation capable of processing 66,000 pieces per hour. The facility is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Roanoke office already serves a number of large plant load type operations including Orvis, Inc., Home Shopping Network, and Hanover Direct.

Basic Numbers

Population (year 2000): 94,911,

Males: 44,501 (46.9%)

Females: 50,410 (53.1%)

Elevation: 940 feet

Land area: 42.9 square miles

Zip codes: 24011, 24012, 24013, 24014, 24015, 24016, 24017, 24018, 24019, 24020.

Median resident age: 37.6 years

Median household income: $30,719 (year 2000)

Median house value: $80,300 (year 2000)

Races in Roanoke:

* White Non-Hispanic (58.8%)

* Black (36.7%)

* Two or more races (1.8%)

* Hispanic (1.5%)

* Other race (0.7%)

* American Indian (0.7%)

* Vietnamese (0.5%)


United States (12.5%)

German (9.5%)

English (9.1%)

Irish (7.9%)

Scotch-Irish (2.7%)

Italian (1.8%).

For population 25 years and over in Roanoke

* High school or higher: 76.0%

* Bachelor's degree or higher: 18.7%

* Graduate or professional degree: 6.6%

* Unemployed: 5.8%

* Mean travel time to work: 19.3 minutes

For population 15 years and over in Roanoke

* Never married: 27.4%

* Now married: 46.0%

* Separated: 3.5%

* Widowed: 8.9%

* Divorced: 14.3%

3.1% Foreign born (1.1% Asia, 1.0% Europe, 0.8% Latin America).

Nearest city with pop. 200,000+:

Greensboro, NC (83.3 miles , pop. 223,891).

Nearest city with pop. 1,000,000+:

Philadelphia, PA (380.4 miles , pop. 1,517,550).

Nearest cities:

Vinton, VA (4.2 miles )

Hollins, VA (4.3 miles )

Cave Spring, VA (4.6 miles )

Cloverdale, VA (6.8 miles )

Salem, VA (6.9 miles )

Laymantown, VA (9.3 miles )

Daleville, VA (10.0 miles )

Troutville, VA (11.0 miles )


* Roanoke shares with Cleveland, OH and Worcester, MA, the distinction of winning an All America City Award five times, the latest in 1996.

* Inc. magazine named the Roanoke Valley one of the US's top 100 hot spots for business development in several articles, including this one.

* Parenting magazine chose Roanoke as one of the ten best places to raise a family in the US.

* Population Connection honored Roanoke as one of the ten least stressful areas in the US.

* The Department of Education has recognized Roanoke valley schools among the nation's best.

* A University of Kentucky study ranked Roanoke's quality of life among the top 20 nationally.

* Roanoke was rated as one of the top 10 healthiest places in the US by Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

* The historic Roanoke City Farmer's Market was designated as one of 63 of America's Great Public Places by Urban Initiatives, a New York urban design and architectural organization. The list also included New York's Central Park, New Orleans' French Quarter, Washington's Vietnam War Memorial, and San Francisco, CA's Golden Gate Park.

* The National Association of Home Builders cited Roanoke as the most affordable housing market in Virginia.

* In 1996, the Urban Land Institute Award for best public-private venture in the nation was given to the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

* The spring 1997 issue of Southern Business & Development magazine ranked mid-size and small markets by the number of economic development announcements creating at least 100 jobs. The period covered was 1994 through 1997. In its size market, Roanoke ranked as number 10 in the nation!

* Sales and Marketing Management magazine's January 1998 issue listed Roanoke as one of the twenty (20) hottest domestic markets in which to do business in 1998. The area was listed at number 10 in the nation because it ranked as number six (6) in total business BPI (Buying Power Index), number 17 in sales opportunity index and number 23 in high-tech BPI. The article said, "With its low cost of doing business, Roanoke has become a popular market. In the past five years there have been 49 corporate expansions and relocations, representing a $406 million investment in the economy and almost 6,300 jobs."

* In Money magazine's twelfth annual Best Places to Live survey, Roanoke was chosen the third best small southern city in which to live.

* Sales and Marketing Management magazine's April 1999 issue listed Roanoke as one of the twenty (20) hottest domestic markets in which to do business in 1999. The magazine predicted retail sales would grow 26% and effective buying income would increase 21% by 2002.

* Roanoke ranked first of all metropolitan areas in Virginia in real per capita personal income in a study released on May 3, 1999. Gilbert R Yochum and Vinod B Agarwal, both professors of economics at Old Dominion University, used cost of living indices to produce real income figures. The Roanoke MSA ranked eleventh in the nation.

* Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center was awarded the National Pinnacle Award for outstanding meeting facility by Successful Meetings magazine in 1999.

* Center in the Square has been recognized as the top downtown economic development project in the world by the International Downtown Association (IDA). This award, announced October 4, 1999, honors the impact Center in the Square has had in the transformation of downtown Roanoke.

* According to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the city of Roanoke is ranked 14th nationally in the number of telecommunications equipment and service jobs in emerging firms.

* Expansion Management magazine's January 2001 issue ranked Roanoke as one of its "50 hottest cities for business relocation and expansion" of manufacturing companies. It ranked 25th.

* In the 5th Edition of the Retirement Places Rated Almanac, Roanoke rated as the second-best metro area in the country to retire in, based on climate, cost of living, health care, and a low crime rate.

* The Science Museum of Western Virginia has been awarded the highest honor a museum can receive, an accreditation by the American Association of Museums.

* Verizon's Dickens of a Christmas Festival in downtown Roanoke has been selected as one of Southeast Tourism Society's top events.

* The Virginia Downtown Development Association presented a statewide "Award of Excellence" for outstanding achievement in downtown revitalization to Center in the Square for its renovation of the Shenandoah Hotel.

* In November 2001, the Center for Digital Government named Roanoke the top e-government city in the US in the 75,000 to 125,000 population category. The city scored 91.7 out of a 100, receiving high marks for its Web site, online job search and application process, and its "robust" public-safety program.

* Expansion Management magazine's January 2002 issue ranked Roanoke as one of its "50 hottest cities for business relocation and expansion" of manufacturing companies. It ranked 43rd.

* The redevelopment of the northern portion of downtown, including Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Eight Jefferson Place, the Roanoke Higher Education Center, the Passenger Rail Station and Gainsboro Garage, was selected as one of the "Five Best Real Estate Projects in Virginia" by Virginia Business magazine.

* Carilion Health System received the National Quality Health Care Award from the National Committee for Quality Health Care, meaning the health system is one of the best in the US.

* Money magazine, in its May 8, 2002, issue, chose Roanoke as one of its best places to retire, stating it has "southern charm with all four seasons in a setting that attracts even Floridian retirees back north".

* The Roanoke Higher Education Center, the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the O. Winston Link Museum were chosen by the April 2002 issue of Virginia Business magazine as one of "The Year's Best and Most Significant Real Estate Projects of 2001".

* In November 2002, the Center for Digital Government once again named Roanoke the top e-government city in the US in the 75,000 to 125,000 population category.

* The Jefferson Center Foundation received the 2002 Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects' Award for Preservation. "Careful preservation of [shaftman] hall's architectural integrity and transformation of an abandoned high school auditorium into a state-of-the-art performance hall" were cited as significant.

* The Mill Mountain Discovery Center received the 2002 Virginia Recreation & Park Society's best new facility award for a building in a city with a population between 50,001 and 100,000.

* Downtown Roanoke has been recognized by Southern Business & Development magazine as one of the best downtowns in the south. The article states Roanoke has "the right balance. It is a great place to visit and a great place to live. Long a hub for commerce, business and entertainment, the 65-block area is well on its way to becoming a 24-hour downtown where you'll find something to do anytime."

* Expansion Management magazine's January 2003 issue ranked Roanoke as one of the "50 hottest cities for manufacturing expansions and relocations". The area had moved up to number 29 from number 43 in 2002.

* The National Capital Chapter of the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) has named the Crystal Spring Filtration Plant as Project of the Year under the $10 million construction value. The project was selected in part for being completed on time and under budget with less than 3% change orders.

* The February issue of Expansion Management magazine ranked Roanoke as the fourth best metropolitan area in the country for health care. This ranking was based on the cost, quality and availability of health care in more than 300 US metropolitan areas.

* The US Conference of Mayors awarded Roanoke an Outstanding Livability Award for 2003 to recognize its "Every Drop Counts" education program during the drought of 2001-2002.

* The Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission, with members from the City of Roanoke, Roanoke County, VA, Botetourt County, VA, and Salem, VA, was named the top organization in the 2003 Environmental Stewardship Awards. The award came from Virginia and the Virginia Petroleum Council.

* The Police Department placed first in the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Virginia Law Enforcement Challenge program and third in the International Association of Chiefs of Police National Chief's Challenge Program for 2002. Three major traffic safety priorities were targeted: occupant protection, imparied driving and speed.

* The Roanoke Valley has earned a Four-Star rating in Expansion Management magazine's fifth annual Quality of Life Quotient for May 2003. The rating was based on a reasonable cost of living, affordable housing, low crime, excellent transportation access, good public schools, proximity to community colleges and universities, an educated work force, and low taxes.

* The Crystal Spring Filtration Plant has won the 2003 Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association in the $2 to $10 million category.

* Roanoke Citizen has won the 2003 Savvy Award (first place) in the Newsletter/Magazine category bestowed by the City-County Communications and Marketing Association, while the "Every Drop Counts" water campaign won the Silver Circle Award (second place) for Best Communications Plan.

* Once again, for the third year in a row, the Center for Digital Government has chosen Roanoke as the top digital city in its population category of 75,000 to 124,999. Roanoke is the only city to rank first for three years in a row. Not only was the city recognized for its citizen friendly web site, but also for offering free downtown wireless Internet service and regional public access kiosks.

* The National League of Cities and the CH2M Hill Company sponsor the James C Howland Awards for Urban Enrichment. The 2003 James C Howland Silver Winner in the 50,001 - 150,000 population category was Roanoke's "Every Drop Counts" water conservation education campaign.

* Expansion Magazine's January 3, 2004, issue named Roanoke as one of the fifty hottest cities for expansions and relocations. It ranked at number 37.

* Roanoke was ranked 39 of 276 metropolitan areas by Inc. Magazine's March 2004 Top 25 Cities for Doing Business in America in the Most Balanced Economy and Growth category.

* The city of Roanoke's manager, Darlene Burcham, was recognized as a "Top 25 Doer, Dreamer and Driver" by Government Technology Magazine. The people selected "implemented innovative ideas that improved citizen services and public safety - and they did so with cost-effectiveness demanded by current budget realities".

* Doubletree Hotels awarded the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center its top award for Number One Property in the brand in the country. The hotel also won the Care Cup award (2003), certifying the property as number one in customer feedback, and a Pride Award (2000-2004) as well as a Circle of Excellence Award (1999-2004).

* Roanoke was ranked the eleventh best city in the US in 2004 by the annually updated publication, "Cities Ranked and Rated". Over one hundred pieces of information were considered by the authors in categories including economy, jobs, cost of living, climate, education, arts and culture.

* For nine years in a row, Roanoke has been named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

* Partners for Livable Communities, a nonprofit leadership organization, honored Roanoke as one of America's most livable cities for striking a "careful balance" between business development and the natural environment. Cited in the award were the planned Riverside Centre for Research & Technology, the Warehouse Row technology center, the O. Winston Link Museum and the plans for a new art museum.

* The restoration of the bell tower and front facade of Fire Station #1 has been selected as one of the American Public Works Association's (APWA) Projects of the Year 2004 in the historic preservation category.

* The Hilton Hotels Connie Award was given to the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center in 2003.

* The National Citizens Police Academy Association (NCPAA) named the Roanoke Police Department Citizen Police Academy the 2004 Agency of the Year.

* The New Century Venture Center was named the recipient of the National Business Incubation Association's 2004 Randall M Whaley International Incubator of the Year Award.

* Roanoke Citizen, the city's magazine, has won the Savvy Award, first place, in the newsletter/magazine category from the City-County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA).

* Expansion Management magazine's July 2004 Second Annual Mayor's Challenge for site selectors choosing a location ranked the Roanoke Valley as 40th in the nation overall in its six major categories of public education, college-educated work force, health care costs and availability, quality of life, logistics infrastructure and government taxes and spending.

* The Center for Digital Government's 2004 Digital Cities Survey named Roanoke the fifth most efficient city in using technology to serve citizens.

* The Roanoke MSA was named one of Expansion Management magazine's "America's 50 Hottest Cities" for manufacturing for the fifth time. Business climate, work force quality, operating costs, incentive programs, among others, were considered.

* The DiRoNa Award for one of the best international restaurants in the world has been given to the Regency Room at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center every year from 2002 to 2005.

* The Center for Digital Government has chosen Roanoke as the top digital city in its population category of 75,000 to 124,999 for the fourth time out of five years. The city was recognized for its citizen friendly web site and offering free downtown wireless Internet service.

* Business Facilities magazine, in its November 2005 issue, named Roanoke, Virginia, as a High-Tech Haven, meaning a location with the necessary tools to help a high-tech company prosper.

* The city of Roanoke received an overall rating of 100 out of 100 for the implementation of its Lead Hazard Control program during the period of July through September 2005. This rating was received from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.

* On September 22, 2005, Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced that the Blue Ridge Parkway would be an All-American Road and Nation Scenic Byway, joining the America's Byways

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