By and large, the bulk of residents in Southwestern Virginia are poor, uneducated by standards in the rest of Virginia and struggling to find a job and make a living.
That’s the conclusion of the Weldon Center at The University of Virginia and the Statistical Abstract of the Census Bureau.
For the most part, Southwestern Virginia is the poorest region of the Old Dominion with a median income of $37,663 while Northern Virginia shows $102,499 and Roanoke County weighs in at $61,686. Overall, Virginia’s median income is $63,636 — almost triple the per capita income of Floyd County of $21,855 and 30.9 percent of county residents are currently under the poverty line.
In our region, only 15 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher from a college or university. Northern Virginia shows 54 percent of at least one college degree.
If you take Roanoke, Montgomery or Franklin County out of the mix in Southwestern Virginia, the median income drops well below $20,000.
An old joke in Floyd County says the hippies moved in because there were nob jobs.
Yet in Floyd, many of the old hippies now own several of the county’s primary businesses.
Floyd County’s Economic Development Park lost Volv0’s Dex truck recycling operation this summer and the space if still not rented to a new client.
The new Innovation Center lost is anchor tenant when BC Genesis snuck out of the county under the cover of darkness while the center was still under construction and the center may open in the fall with no clients.
But downtown businesses in Floyd remain fully occupied even if some are struggling.
Elsewhere in the region, conditions are mixed. Some downtowns like Pulaski shows empty spots while others like Galaxi appear to thrive. In the relocated downtown in Grundy, Wal-Mart is the center of the town square.