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Assessing Local Competitiveness:
A Cluster Analysis of Montgomery County, Virginia

November 2010                                                                                                                          

Executive Summary

Montgomery County, Virginia is a progressive, technology-driven community nestled in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. The County is home to Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech) and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg. The community is the economic center of the greater New River Valley and is within a half hours’ drive of nearby Roanoke, Virginia.

The Montgomery County Department of Economic Development prepared this study to identify and assess the competitiveness of industry clusters in Montgomery County, Virginia (including the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg). Industry clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies who work closely with each other, local suppliers, infrastructure providers, educational institutions, and other relevant agencies to gain competitive advantages in today’s global, innovation economy. The goal of the study is to identify and bring attention to those industry clusters that have the greatest impact on local economic growth.

Using a quantitative approach, the study compared aggregate industry data for 17 clusters in the local and national economies in 2005 and 2008. Based upon that analysis, the study was able to identify several promising local clusters that appear to exhibit competitive advantage characteristics other their national counterparts, including:

Strongest Growth & Specialization Cluster

  • Biomedical/Biotechnical (Life Sciences)

Emerging Competitive Advantage Clusters

  • Advanced Materials
  • Arts, Entertainment, Recreation & Visitor Industries
  • Education & Knowledge Creation 
  • Information Technology & Telecommunications 
  • Machinery Mfg 
  • Transportation Equipment Mfg

Transforming Clusters

  • Business & Financial Services

This information provides valuable insight into the economic structure of Montgomery County. However, analyzing aggregate industry data can only provide general observations of a cluster’s competitiveness at a given point in history. Therefore further research, through a more in-depth qualitative cluster analysis, is needed to fully gauge how firms within each cluster are connected as well as to identify any barriers that may be hindering cluster competitiveness.

To view the full Assessing Local Competitiveness:  A Cluster Analysis of Montgomery County, Virginia report, click on the image below:

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