If you’re a Roanoker, you may have heard about the launch of RoanokeOutside.com. It’s been well publicized on Twitter, Facebook, and now some other media outlets such as Star City Harbinger and WSLS. Beth Doughty, Executive Director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership does a good job summarizing the site in their latest press release:

“Making the outdoors an important part of our region’s narrative starts with a comprehensive Web site that catalogues our natural resources and makes it easier for people all over the world to learn about and enjoy our region’s natural resources.”

My company, Vision Point Systems, is behind the development of this site. We have an interesting task ahead of us balancing the demand for an objective catalog of the region’s offerings with the desire to build a dynamic community of outdoor enthusiasts and casual participants. This is one of those instances where social media can seem like a buzzword. It’s tempting to decorate the page with Twitter feeds, Friendfeed streams, etc. There’s a real risk of getting too hung up on the social aspect and burying the real purpose of the site. There will be some much needed traditional web features such as a hiking trail database, links to local outfitters, events lists, and other guidance and tips. The last thing we want to happen is create a feeling of exclusivity because of a passionate core group of outdoor enthusiasts.

The great part about the process we’re going through is that we’ve launched the site as a completely temporary entity to act as a preview and feedback mechanism. We’ve got a clear deadline set for Sept 30 to get the real thing built and we’re thrilled about the buzz the site is getting so far.

The RoanokeOutside.com temporary page

The RoanokeOutside.com temporary page

I’d personally welcome feedback on this subject, but the best course of action is to take the survey on the site itself!


Roanoke Region Stability

February 27, 2009

There’s some press for the Roanoke Region and its stability in these turbulent times in today’s USA today. There’s something to be said for having strengths in strategically beneficial areas – in this case healthcare and education.

I’ve always thought of Roanoke as stable, maybe even frustratingly so when times were booming. There hasn’t been the mass commercialization seen in many other towns along I-81 for example. I think of Harrisonburg and Winchester as examples of this with their rows of new strip malls right off the interstate. Roanoke still feels comparatively mature.

Home prices are notably affordable and I hear very little talk of people having lost value in their homes in the last few months. I’d love to see some data on this some time- that is price fluctuations in the last 2 years compared to NoVA, or even Blacksburg.  the I bet Marty Martin would know.

Thanks to the folks at the Roanoke Regional Partnership for pointing this story out.