Home Virginia Community Economic Network, VT KnowledgeWorks launch new strategic partnership

Virginia Community Economic Network, VT KnowledgeWorks launch new strategic partnership


virginia-newThe Virginia Community Economic Network and VT KnowledgeWorks have entered into a partnership to improve the competitiveness of communities across the Commonwealth of Virginia and expand the visibility and availability of community and economic development resources across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Under the new arrangement, VTKW will provide staffing and operational support for VCEN, and VCEN’s Executive Director, Conaway Haskins will join the VTKW staff and continue to manage the nonprofit while assisting with the development and implementation of related VTKW projects and initiatives.

“We believe that this new relationship will provide additional stability and sustainability to VCEN. This is a win-win partnership as VCEN and VTKW have significant mission alignment, and it is a unique model for collaboration between nonprofit organizations and universities.” Says Jody Keenan, State Director of the Virginia Small Business Development Center Network and Chair of the VCEN Board of Directors. “We are eager to explore additional value-added initiatives with VTKW and our partners.”

VCEN is a statewide nonprofit convener, thought leader, and public voice for the creation and expansion of community economic opportunities throughout the Commonwealth. Founded in 2013, VCEN promotes innovative, creative and sustainable local entrepreneurship and economic development strategies that spur job creation, increase wealth-building, and enhance community vitality. In 2014, VCEN launched the highly-regarded SourceLink Virginia (http://www.sourcelinkvirginia.org) small business resource portal which provides aspiring and established entrepreneurs with free access to over 200 resource providers from across the Commonwealth.

VT KnowledgeWorks – a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center – encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. Through its Entrepreneurship Alliance and Global Partnership initiatives, VTKW assists communities, regions, and global universities in assessing and enriching their local entrepreneurial ecosystems.

“This new partnership helps VTKW fulfill its mission to foster pragmatic and well-integrated programs for innovative entrepreneurship and community vitality around Virginia,” says Jim Flowers, Executive Director VT KnowledgeWorks and a founding VCEN board member. “Working with VCEN will help us extend our outreach to regions around the state, and generate an increased return on investment for all of our supporters.”

The alliance between VCEN and VTKW will leverage the expansive, statewide footprint of Virginia Tech, Virginia’s leading research university and with one of the largest enrollments in the Commonwealth. Virginia Tech is just one of 361 universities to have achieved the prestigious “Community Engagement” classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The designation recognizes those institutions that have deeply employed partnerships with businesses and communities to solve mutually agreed-upon problems, not only contributing to the public good but also enriching scholarship and creating students who are imbued with a sense of civic responsibility.

“This is truly a unique opportunity to continue to move the needle on innovative community entrepreneurship and economic development efforts as we navigate the New Virginia Economy. This is a very exciting time for all of us, and the partnership with VTKW will help VCEN carry out its mission in all corners of Virginia.” says Conaway Haskins, VCEN’s Executive Director.

The new partnership is receiving significant support from Virginia Cooperative Extension (Extension) and Virginia Tech’s Office of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA). VCEN will be co-located with VCE and OIA at the Virginia Tech Richmond Center on Parham Road.



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.