Analysis: Both candidates campaigned for UVa-Wise: Now what?

In the weeks following the 2017 Virginia state elections, voters now look back on the campaigns of both parties to get a sense of how the next governor’s term will pan out in the Commonwealth.

Earlier this year, both major party candidates endorsed Growth4Virginia – an organization that advocates economic and job growth tied to the area’s access to higher education – at the 2017 Higher Education and Economic Competitiveness Summit.

Also attended by business leaders, elected officials and General Assembly members, the summit highlighted some of the vision for Virginia under the next governor.

Both candidates also helped to highlight Southwest Virginia, especially University of Virginia’s College at Wise, by agreeing to hold the third and final debate of the election season at UVa-Wise. This move was very different from other statewide campaigns as it made the campaigns focus on an area farther west that Blacksburg and Roanoke.

Now that election season is over, with governor-elect Ralph Northam and down-ballot Democrats gaining the largest pickup since 1899, the people of Southwest Virginia and the UVa-Wise community are wondering if and when promises to the college and the community will see action.

In July, Northam proposed a $15 million dollar expansion to UVa-Wise, which would nearly double the state’s contribution to the college for at least a year.

Northam says that expanding the courses offered at UVa-Wise helps to court new talent from outside the state, attracts out-of-state students paying higher tuitions and translates to more businesses and jobs around the area.

“We rely heavily on recruiting new students for the college to operate, so increased efforts in those areas will be a tremendous help for the college and the area,” said Assistant Director of Student Life and Greek Life, Nathan Rasnake. “More students at the college equals more student programming and more students and their families shopping in Wise County and other areas of Southwest Virginia which benefits our local economy.”

Rasnake added that the future of UVa-Wise looks bright if all goes to plan.With the area in economic decline, southwest Virginia is looking to the new governor and the General Assembly to deliver on promises made during this election cycle. The new administration has the eyes and ears of UVa-Wise’s community.

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