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GO Virginia Region One includes the most southwest counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe, as well as the Cities of Bristol, Galax and Norton.

Much of Region One has been dependent upon natural resources, such as coal, timber and natural gas, as its economic base for many generations, enjoying economic growth during boom times but enduring extreme economic difficulties during primary industry contractions.

Echoing one of the forces behind the formation of GO Virginia, the economic leaders of the region have identified the volatility of relying upon a single source economy, regardless of industry, and are embracing the creation of a varied and robust economic base for its citizenry.

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At the time of organization, the Region One estimated population was just over 393,000, one of the least populated of the GO Virginia regions. The age cohorts in Region One are skewed toward a lower percentage of younger individuals, presumably because some of the younger residents leave the region for better job opportunities. In Region One, 19.2% of the population is aged 18 to 34 years. In contrast, 17.5% of the Region One population is 65 years and older.


The high unemployment rate in Region One reflects its relatively weak economy when compared the state of Virginia. The unemployment rate in Region One has been higher than its labor shed and the state since at least 1990. As of May 2017, the seasonally adjusted Region One unemployment rate was 5.6% compared to 4.6% in the labor shed and 3.8% in the state.


GO Virginia Region One borders four states that provide job opportunities for its residents. As shown in the accompanying map, commuting patterns indicate that three counties in Tennessee, and one each in Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina, have enough migration in and out of Region One to warrant inclusion in the Region One labor shed. The location of Interstate 81 that runs through the region also provides easy access for some residents to commute northeast. Consequently, the Region One labor shed includes six additional Virginia localities. Including Virginia and other states, the twelve additional localities are:

  • City of Roanoke, Virginia

  • City of Salem, Virginia

  • Hawkins County, Tennessee

  • Mercer County West Virginia

  • Montgomery County, Virginia

  • Pike County, Kentucky

  • Pulaski County, Virginia

  • Radford City, Virginia

  • Roanoke County, Virginia

  • Sullivan County, Tennessee

  • Surry County, North Carolina

  • Washington County, Tennessee

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