Yesterday I argued that the economic odds were stacked against Virginia’s smaller metropolitan areas when it came to stimulating the start-up and growth of technology businesses. Economies of scale in the knowledge economy, I suggested, favor large regions with larger, more diverse labor pools. Could I have been wrong? (What, me wrong? Never!)
This morning, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that Heyo, a fast-growing social media company formerly known as Lujure Media Inc., will expand its operation in the Town of Blacksburg. The company, which creates dashboards for managing Facebook fan pages, mobile apps and websites, aims to create 50 jobs over the next two years.
Said Jim Cheng, Secretary for Commerce and Trade: “Heyo’s innovative services and accelerated growth are further evidence that Virginia is an incubator for good ideas. … The company is dedicated to Blacksburg and Montgomery County, and has found a pool of local talent to thrive. ”
Added Heyo CEO Nathan Latka: “The close knit community makes it easy to build culture and hire top tier talent from top ranked local universities like Virginia Tech and Radford University. This has enabled us to create 16 full-time jobs with aggressive hiring plans for the coming months. As we continue to grow rapidly, it’ll be hard for Blacksburg to remain the country’s biggest secret.”
A big high-five to Heyo and Blacksburg! I would love to believe that Blacksburg, Charlottesville and other smaller Virginia metros can buck the mega-trends arrayed against them. I hate the idea of a Virginia defined by a sprawling urban crescent and a withering hinterland. But a few positive anecdotes don’t change the big picture. It will be instructive to see if Heyo can grow a large technology enterprise in Blacksburg.