With cheerful, early morning sunshine infusing the room, about 100 community leaders gathered Wednesday to discuss how things are going in Culpeper County.
Speakers touched on topics ranging from cybersecurity to career and technical education, community health and the opioid crisis during the two-hour 2019 State of the Community breakfast organized by the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce and held at the Culpeper Country Club.
“I’m here today to brag about Culpeper, and hopefully to leave you with some information that will help you feel good about where we live and work,” said Culpeper County Economic Development Director Phil Sheridan, the first speaker.
Although Culpeper is not located near an interstate highway and is not home to a university, Sheridan noted that—unlike other towns in Virginia under similar conditions—Culpeper is growing and thriving. Since 2010, the county’s population has increased by 9.84 percent.
“Everywhere else that doesn’t have a highway or a university is shrinking and getting older,” Sheridan said.
He said Culpeper overcomes the university obstacle through proactively providing a variety of career and technical education options for the area’s population. Partnering with Germanna Community College, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Culpeper County Public Schools, businesses and others, Culpeper provides students with many accreditation and degree choices.
“Culpeper created this positive outcome through thoughtful planning as demonstrated by support for the Carver Center, the Career and Technical Education School, fiscal and resource responsibility, and balanced growth with concern for the quality of life,” Sheridan said.
Culpeper has about 1,000 businesses, which employ more than 12,000 people and have payrolls totalling over $500 million, as well as an additional 3,000 smaller businesses with only a few employees, he said.
Nine of the last 13 announced investments in Culpeper were by manufacturers, Sheridan said, adding that manufacturing has had the highest percentage increases