June 3, 2011
Leigh Cockram of Henry County has been named director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA), the state’s newest regional economic development organization, effective June 15.
Cockram is vice president of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) and has been involved in the formation of the SVRA since March 2010, according to a news release. She said Thursday she is not certain of her last day at the EDC.
SVRA is a marketing partnership between Halifax, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania counties and the cities of Martinsville and Danville. It was created to promote economic development and job creation in southern Virginia.
Cockram said her responsibilities will include developing marketing materials, such as brochures and print mail items; establishing the office; promoting the region through traveling, hosting consultants and other efforts; and other things geared to creating jobs.
SVRA will be funded over two years with $200,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, $200,000 from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and $200,000 combined from the six communities of the alliance for a total of $600,000.
“Leigh’s knowledge of our region and this initiative made her a great candidate for the director position,” said Mike Sexton, executive director for the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority. “Each of our community’s economic development offices looks forward to working with her on promoting the SVRA.”
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling also praised the decision.
“I was delighted to hear that the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance had hired one of their own to head up economic development efforts in Southern Virginia,” Bolling said in the release. “Leigh Cockram has done a great job in Martinsville and Henry County, and she now has an opportunity to make a positive impact for the entire region.
“Leigh knows the region well, she understands the importance of regional cooperation in achieving economic development goals, and she has great relationships with public and private sector partners. I know Leigh will do a great job, and I look forward to working with her to advance our efforts to support economic growth and job creation throughout Southern Virginia,” he added.
Cockram is a 2002 graduate of the University of Virginia and native of Henry County.
She said she was honored to be named to the position so she can “continue working with the SVRA team to market our region as the ideal place for businesses to locate. Southern Virginia has a wealth of opportunities for companies looking to grow, from great industrial parks to first-class training facilities. I am confident that marketing our assets collectively will have a much bigger impact to site selection consultants and company executives who are searching for new places to do business.”
Tobacco commission member Del. Don Merricks, R-Pittsylvania County, said, “Regionalism is a must as we market Southern Virginia to prospective business and industry clients. I am pleased that we will have a Southern Virginia native heading up this initiative.
“Leigh has the experience and communication skills to market our area the most effective way possible. I look forward to working with her as we move forward,” Merricks added.
The SVRA has been recognized by Southern Business & Development Magazine as one of the Ten Notable Collective Economic Development Efforts in the South, according to Jeff Anderson, VEDP president and CEO.
He added that the partnership “is proud to be a partner in this collective marketing initiative for Southern Virginia. We anticipate great results.”
State Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Ridgeway, said the announcement is good news.
Cockram “knows the region and its assets. I wish her much success as she works to promote economic development and to bring new employment opportunities to our communities,” he said in a release.
Cockram referred questions about her salary to the SVRA board.
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