Shenandoah Valley Life
By Shenandoah Valley Partnership
Shenandoah Valley LifeMay 15, 2023
From Board Member to Executive Director: A Conversation with Courtney Thompson, Greater Augusta Regional Chamber
Born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley and a graduate of JMU, Courtney Thompson of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce has spent her entire career in the Augusta County-Staunton-Waynesboro area. Prior to working at the Chamber, Courtney's professional career focused on business development in the banking industry. Her involvement with the Chamber as a two term board member eventually led to her current role as Executive Director. Listen in as Courtney shares her love of the Valley and talks about all it has to offer personally and professionally.
From Michigan to the Valley: A Conversation with Kelli Williams
This episode of the Shenandoah Valley Life podcast features Kelli Williams with Virginia Tourism Corporation. Kelli made her way to the Valley from Michigan at the start of her college years. She fell in love with the Valley and what was to be a stop along the way quickly turned into more than a decade with no plans to leave. Now a Destination Development Manager with Virginia Tourism Corporation, Kelli is able to merge her passion for the Valley with her professional career. Listen in as she shares her story and what excites her for the future of tourism in the Valley.
A Conversation with HDR Executive Director Andrea Dono
In this episode, Jay talks with Executive Director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Andrea Dono. A passionate advocate for the downtown area and beyond, Andrea moved to the Valley seven years ago from Northern Virginia and hasn't looked back since. Listen in as she talks about the path that led to her current role, a little about HDR's history and plans for the future.
Agriculture in the Valley - A Conversation with John King, Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative
With 4 of the top 5 agriculture producing localities in the state located in the Shenandoah Valley, the impact of the ag industry is huge. Our guest for this episode is John King, president of Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative who has been with the coop since its inception in 2004. In this episode, he talks about the path he took to get to the Valley and the impact the coop has on the Valley and the world.
From Alabama to Virginia: A Conversation with Tracy Lyons
Executive Director of the Lexington-Rockbridge County Chamber of Commerce Tracy Lyons relocated to the Valley from Alabama, with a stop in Richmond along the way. Listen in as she shares her story, some history of the area, and highlights why locals love it and visitors keep coming back.
Supporting Farmers - Rockingham Cooperative, Keith Turner & The Farm Ministry
With a more than 100 year history, Rockingham Cooperative has roots that run deep and so does Valley native and coop feed division manager Keith Turner. Growing up on a local farm, Keith knows first hand the struggles a small farm can go through and helped found The Farm Ministry, a resource that supports farmers through the purchase of the products they produce from donated funds.
Launching Careers with JobStarter - A Conversation with BRCC's Andrea Livick & Dr. John Downey
The success of a grant funded partnership between Blue Ridge Community College and pharmaceutical company, Merck sparked the creation of an innovative and career launching program called JobStarter. Hear from BRCC President Dr. John Downey and JobStarter coordinator Andrea Livick as they talk about the formation and success of this three week paid training designed to prepare students for a career in advanced manufacturing.
From Wall Street to the Shenandoah Valley: A conversation with Mark Toorock
Mark Toorock has made an interesting transition in his career, from being involved in securities on Wall Street to conducting the production of major parkour events all over the world. A major focus of Mark’s is his thought provoking comment, and an admonition to adults, is that adults have forgotten how to play. We are our most creative when we are playing and Mark through his creation of parkour courses, challenges young and old, to push our boundaries and has found that the Shenandoah Valley is a perfect place to make this happen.
From California to Home: A conversation with April Anderson
April Anderson sought a career in the rapidly expanding craft beer brewing industry and landed at the right place at the right time with the right people. California provided a perfect environment to learn the trade and provide her expertise to rapidly move up the ladder in the craft-brewing scene, but family and personal issues brought her back home. April has come into her own as the master brewer at Rockbridge Vineyards and was there to help guide the creation of their brewery alongside their winery, where she is producing some delicious craft beers in the Shenandoah Valley.
Efficient and Thrifty: A conversation with Scott Asbell
Scott Asbell, SVP’s producer for the Shenandoah Valley Life Podcast series. talks about his serial entrepreneurial background and approach to life. A humorous and talented renaissance man, Scott discusses his purchase of a bowling alley when he was a junior at JMU, his building of a tiny home, his musical talent and his YouTube videos under the moniker of Slack Scott: Not cheap, not lazy, just efficient and thrifty – all of which embodies the spirit of the Shenandoah Valley.
Reducing the Barriers to Innovation: A conversation with Hannah Cooper
Hannah Cooper with the Staunton Innovation Hub, an adventurist in her personal life, explains how so many of her personal traits are analogous to the Staunton Innovation Hub management philosophy and how through a circuitous early adulthood professional journey, she stayed and thrived in the Shenandoah Valley.
The Story of our Great Quality of Life: A conversation with Aimee Roberts
Aimee Roberts with Nest Realty is in charge of a very polished publication that reaches a target audience of decision makers. Aimee and Nest have partnered with the Shenandoah Regional Airport and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership to tell the story of living, working, playing and serving in the Valley. Listen to what drew Aimee to the Valley and how she is channels her story of family, hiking, outdoors, education and living in a small town into the creation of each Friends of Nest publication.
Flying High in the Valley: A conversation with Greg Campbell and Heather Ream about the Shenandoah Regional Airport
Greg Campbell has been at the Shenandoah Regional Airport (SHD) since 1988, worked at the airport through college at Bridgewater and has a tireless supporter of the airports growth as an asset in the region. No less passionate about the airport, Heather Ream has the pleasure of developing the message about the airport and our ability to be one stop from most anywhere in the world. Learn about how the Shenandoah Valley supports and has been supported by the Shenandoah Regional Airport.
Welcome to the Video Sanctuary: A Conversation with Andy VanHook
Andy VanHook may be the face most associated with Appeal Production, but he and his partners have become a force in video production in the Shenandoah Valley. As stated on their website, “Welcome to the video sanctuary.” Andy talks about Appeal Production’s humble beginnings, working for beer – and their employer was out of beer – to launching Appeal Production in the Great Recession and becoming the go-to firm for video marketing in the Valley.
Better Living Through Flowers Part 2: A Conversation with Stephanie Auville & Jessica Hall
We continue the discussion with sisters Jessica Hall and Stephanie Auville about their passion for flowers, their very creative social media following, and the rapid growth of their companies, Harmony Harvest and Floral Genius. Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with them about their exponential growth during the pandemic, their winning a FedEx National Small Business Award, and the following they have developed with their very humorous social media postings.
Better Living Through Flowers Part 1: A Conversation with Stephanie Auville & Jessica Hall
Sisters Jessica Hall and Stephanie Auville have teamed up to literally grow their companies in the Shenandoah Valley. Their mantra, better living through flowers, is contagious as you listen to their self-described flower-obsessed story of developing their two companies, Harmony Harvest and Floral Genius. Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Jessica and Stephanie about their reason for moving to the Shenandoah Valley, their purchase of the farm and the number of business assistance programs, that have helped them quickly expand beyond start-up businesses and their families.
Turning Dreams into Reality: A Conversation with Debbie Irwin
Debbie Irwin is the Executive Director of the Shenandoah Community Capital Fund (SCCF), an entrepreneurial support organization that believes the most vibrant communities grow from within. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Debbie about how SCCF’s diverse services help grow businesses of all scales and backgrounds and how the Shenandoah Valley became the home she always hoped for.
Technology Thrives: A Conversation with Ryan Gundling
With a mission to serve the greater good, Ryan Gundling cofounded Ryzing Technologies after a local business plan competition. Five years after the successful competition, Ryzing Technologies is expanding their capabilities as a designer and manufacturer of textile-based engineering solutions. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Ryan about his entrepreneurial growth and how the Shenandoah Valley's premier quality of life attracts and grows the right talent for his company.
Initially Inspired Growth: A Conversation with Jennifer Ledford
From a home-based business, to a growing up year, to taking it back to basics, Jennifer Ledford’s “Idea Factory” has progressed many times over the past two decades. One thing remains constant for this innovative entrepreneur – her passion for embracing and supporting the entrepreneurial community. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Jennifer about her initial inspiration, how she has leveraged community resources to grow, and what’s on the horizon for her business.
Curating a Local Experience: A Conversation with Jon Henry
Located in an 1800s historical building, Jon Henry General Store offers local and fair-trade treats, gifts, and eats. But Jon Henry is anything but general. An entrepreneur, farmer, and artist, Jon combined his background as a curator and history of family farming to create a charming shop local experience. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Jon about how he utilizes local resources to expand his services and his passion to grow an accessible local food movement.
When Passion Takes Flight: A Conversation with Kala Dougan
Kala Dougan's enthusiasm for aviation began at a young age, and now she introduces young people to aviation through NEXTGEN Aviators. Born from a successful, multi-generational aviation company, this new program provides hands-on exploration of a broad range of aviation careers including aerospace engineering, parts fabrication and assembly, electronics and avionics, and flight. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston asked Kala what she loves most about her career and what's on the horizon for the aviation industry in the Shenandoah Valley.
Calling a Rural Community Home: A Conversation with Chris Swecker & Bruce Folks
Known for its rich history of maple syrup-producing sugar farms, Highland County's impressive resources and passion for supporting local is attracting startups, telecommuters and young families. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Chris Swecker, Executive Director, Highland County Chamber of Commerce, and Bruce Folks, Owner, Bruce’s Syrup & Candies, about their life in one of Virginia's most rural mountain counties. Discover why family farmers, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between chooses to call Virginia’s Sweet Spot home.
Celebrating the Moment through Art: A Conversation with William & Moon Snyder
William & Moon Snyder are the inspiration and energy behind The Oliver Art House. This power couple is splashing into the creative arts scene and developing a nurturing environment for the community to explore arts in the Shenandoah Valley. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with William & Moon about how their dynamic backgrounds and passion are positively impacting the community in which they live, work and play. Learn more about the vision behind their collaborative learning space and how they make it habit to carpe diem.
A Fulfilling Career in Manufacturing: A Conversation with Brent Secrist
Driving technology, productivity and innovation, the Shenandoah Valley is home to a host of different manufacturing companies across multiple industries. Long-standing Shenandoah Valley company, Modine, specializes in thermal heat exchange and produces HVAC products at their growing Buena Vista facility. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Brent Secrist, Plant Superintendent, about his Modine manufacturing career path and what he appreciates most about his life in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Learn more about this innovative company, growing a career in manufacturing, and what makes the region an incredible place to raise a family.
The Farmer Focus Way - A Conversation with Corwin Heatwole
The Shenandoah Valley has strong agrarian roots where local is defined by a country drive, not a 100+ mile commute. Home to four of the top five agricultural-producing counties in Virginia, robust transportation network, and supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem, agribusinesses plant roots here and grow. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Corwin Heatwole, Founder of Farmer Focus, about how his unique business model puts the decision-making back in the hands of the farmer. Learn how this young, innovative and thriving company is revolutionizing modern-day farming in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.
Growing Four Seasons of Community: A Conversation with Massanutten Resort
Massanutten Resort offers four-seasons of multigenerational activities in the heart of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Their 6,000 acres of mountain fun is recognized as one of the premier all-seasons resort destinations on the East Coast. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Matthias Smith, Vice President and General Manager, and Sarah Elson, Business Relations Director, about how this leading employer attracts and retains Shenandoah Valley talent. Learn how Massanutten Resort offers the tools for professional development and community engagement to create an impressive and positive impact on the quality of life for both residents and visitors.
Planting Roots: A Conversation with Maggie Anderson
In Spring 2018, internationally-owned Speyside Bourbon Cooperage opened their first U.S. stave mill operation in Bath County. Less than one year later the company announced additional investment to add new equipment and a second shift to the operation. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Maggie Anderson, Product Development consultant for Speyside, about the Shenandoah Valley resources that help Speyside thrive. Get to know this family-focused company, cool job opportunities with room to grow, and why there's nothing more satisfying than living in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.
Creating Community Impact: A Conversation with Jamie Goodin
Jamie Goodin is a creator, innovator, entrepreneur, community champion, and more. Jamie's energy and passion for creating impact stems from pure curiosity and the determination to produce an outcome that benefits Shenandoah Valley residents. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Jamie about how the Shenandoah Valley empowers residents to fuel change and create real impact in the communities where they live, work and thrive.
Part of the Solution: A Conversation with Valley Guard Supply
Launched at the onset of the pandemic as a philanthropic effort to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) for the National Guard and other First Responders, Valley Guard Supply is owned and brought to market by military and medical service veterans. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Nicky Swayne, General Manager, and Chris Ashley, Director of Operations, about how the region's business-friendly environment, talented labor pool, and innovative partnerships developed a valuable ecosystem to quickly launch and establish this essential business.
Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Reducing Barriers: A Conversation with Peter Denbigh
Peter Denbigh is an entrepreneur in several start-up companies and one of the catalyzing energies behind the Staunton Innovation Hub. A James Madison University graduate, one of his most successful ventures is the best-selling party game “Watch Ya’ Mouth”. SVP Executive Director Jay Langston spoke with Peter about how the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem supported his many business ventures, what he’s doing to break down barriers for other entrepreneurs, and why he loves calling the Shenandoah Valley home.