Corrie Teague Bobe: Creating New Opportunities to Improve Outcomes

Corrie Teague Bobe joined the Danville Office of Economic Development nearly 11 years ago. “Economic development is a challenging yet rewarding career path to pursue, especially in a community that is reinventing itself. Whether it was inventorying historic buildings as an intern or overseeing River District revitalization efforts as Assistant Director, each position that I’ve held within this office exposed me to a different facet of economic development. This comprehensive experience has laid the foundation for the leadership role that I have today,” Bobe said. She recently was named Director of Economic Development for the city of Danville.

Bobe learned the resilience of our community early on in her career. The region had suffered the loss of major industries. Then the recession hit, creating a negative impact on the local economy. To this day, it still amazes Bobe at how the region responded during that period. “While a number of communities closed their doors as a means of self-preservation and businesses pushed pause on investment activities, our community decided to turn this negative situation into an opportunity for self-improvement. During this period, our region invested in strategic areas such as workforce development, land and infrastructure improvements, and quality of life amenities,” she said. As the area weathered the storm, the economy recovered and business development activities resumed, Danville was ready to show its progress to the world. “This experience taught me that this city and our region as a whole are resilient. No matter the challenges, we persevere and create new opportunities to improve outcomes for our residents and businesses,” Bobe said.  

One of the first lessons in economic development is that change is inevitable. Bobe added, “We need to be nimble and adaptable to ensure the most positive outcomes for the communities we represent, no matter what is going on in the world around us. In good economic times, when businesses have access to capital and are in growth mode, it is important that we are aggressive in pursuing opportunities to attract new jobs and investment. However, when there is a downturn, we need to identify where improvements can be made and focus our efforts on preparing for the next wave of good economic conditions.”

The lesson of change is in play at the moment. With the emergence of COVID-19, the future holds an air of uncertainty. Local businesses, large and small, have felt the weight of the pandemic. Businesses have had to adjust operations to find safe ways to serve their clientele. These adjustments include adding temperature screenings and reducing the numbers of patrons allowed in businesses have come at a great cost. “As local residents, it is imperative that we continue to support these businesses to ensure they survive this challenging time. Our businesses help tell the story of who we are as a community. They highlight our technical strengths, showcase our artistic talents, and provide the character and personality that makes our community attractive to residents and visitors,” Bobe said.

The pandemic has challenged to economic developers to incorporate more technology into the marketing and recruitment processes. Bobe added, “In addition, it has encouraged many to look at regional supply chain needs to ensure that access to raw materials and equipment are not limited should this happen again in the future.” 

Despite the pandemic and the current shift in the economic climate, our region is ripe with entrepreneurship. Danville has become an attractive launching ground for entrepreneurs. According to Census date, nearly 40 percent of all businesses within Danville are owned by women. “Organizations, such as The Entrepreneur Ecosystem of the Dan River Region, have been formed to help connect these entrepreneurs to information and resources. Women entrepreneurs are also able to access leadership development and networking opportunities through the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce’s WE (Women Empowered) Lead and Leadership Southside programs. Technical and financial assistance can be provided through consulting the Longwood Small Business Development Center or The Launch Place, participating in the River District Association’s Dream Launch program, or accessing small business grant and loan programs through local economic development offices. In addition to these resources, I have found that community leaders have made themselves easily accessible. Should you need advice or direction, they have displayed a strong personal commitment to seeing our local business community succeed.”

Economic progress requires many facets to be successful. Through the years, Bobe has learned that economic transformation is not reliant on one individual or organization. She added, “I have been fortunate to work alongside a number of regional partners to further economic development efforts over the past eleven years. It has taken open communication, a dedication to collaboration, and the spirit of innovation to achieve the progress that we have thus far. There is such momentum in our region, and I am excited to see what the future holds.”

A huge part of progress is the continuation of economic revitalization. “As an economic development organization, our mission is to improve the economic health and quality of life of the city of Danville through the creation and retention of jobs, building of local wealth, and increasing the tax base. The success and prosperity of our community only happens when we create an environment that uplifts and enhances the well-being of all residents, and the key to this is education. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. With increased knowledge, our residents will have the power to break down the barriers that generational poverty has created; we will be able to improve the health outcomes of all neighborhoods within our community; and individuals will be able to attain living wage jobs to better support their families. Every citizen must do its part in working towards accomplishing this mission,” Bobe concluded.