Highland County Participating in Remote Work from Home Pilot Program

In Highland County, the Economic Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Council and The Highland Center have been working with the Rural Community Development Initiative, a program that supports economic development in rural areas.  Through that program, the EDA recently received a grant to work on resident attraction and revitalization and reopening of The Highland Inn.  As part of that resident attraction work, the county has been selected to participate in the Remote Work from Home Pilot Program.

EDA member Patti Hrovat is on the Rural Community Development Initiative steering committee.

“What has been noticed in the last couple years is that COVID made people realize that they did not need to be in the larger cities to work,” says Hrovat.  “Now that remote work has been identified as a sector that is growing and people are learning that they can work from anywhere, the county, the EDA and the other members, the Chamber, the Tourism Council and The Highland Center all recognize that one aspect that might inject some growth in our rural economy is to draw people in for remote work.  The increased population and increased spending could revitalize our businesses here in Highland County and that’s what we want to see.  Remote work is a piece of that.”

Highland County is one of only five communities in Virginia selected to participate in the Remote Work from Home Pilot Program.  The program is sponsored by the National Main Street and Virginia Main Street organizations.

“The Highland Center has a co-work space currently and part of this is to identify the kinds of things the county offers for remote workers, like co-work space, is there more than just The Highland Center,” says Hrovat.  “Do we have the technological infrastructure, and we are getting broadband throughout the county so that’s a plus, but cell phone coverage will also have to be improved.  Do we have the kind of housing that’s available for remote workers or Airbnb assets.  Many remote workers, they live for a month at a time in an Airbnb.  Do we have the kinds of recreation opportunities available for people who would want to work in a more remote area?  How close are we to airports and larger cities?  One of the things that the National Main Street has identified as maybe a quality of life factor, in addition to the ones that I’ve mentioned, is how near are colleges, universities and technical schools, that kind of thing.”

On Wednesday, May 25, National Main Street and Virginia Main Street will hold a meeting in Monterey on the Remote Work from Home Program.  A lunch discussion on remote work will be held from 1 until 2:30.  As part of the meeting, Hrovat says they are seeking remote workers, who are already in Highland, to talk about opportunities and needs they see.   If you work remotely in Highland County and would like to offer your input, contact highlandeda@htcnet.org

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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