Glenn Youngkin campaigns in Roanoke County in 2021. Photo by Dwayne Yancey.

Here’s a round-up of business (and sometimes other) news from around Southwest and Southside. Send items for possible inclusion to

Rural vote counted more this year than in previous elections

Southwest and Southside Virginia may be losing population but this year they packed more punch in the governor’s race than they have before. The Virginia Public Access Project has crunched the numbers and put together a visualization of where Republican candidates for governor have gotten their vote from in the the past five gubernatorial elections — back to 2005.

In 2009, the last time (until this year) that a Republican won the governorship, the single biggest share of the GOP vote came from Northern Virginia. Hampton Roads came in second (that was the year Bob McDonnell of Virginia Beach was elected governor), with the Shenandoah Valley/Piedmont third, Southwest and Southside fourth and the capital region around Richmond fifth.

This year, though, with turnout elevated in rural areas, the biggest share of the Republican vote came from the Shenandoah Valley/Piedmont, with Southwest and Southside second and Northern Virginia dropping to third. Hampton Roads was fourth, the Richmond area fifth.

CEO roundtable launched in Roanoke

Virginia: The Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs), a nonprofit association serving more than 240 small and mid-sized business owners, has launched its first CEO peer roundtable in

Formed in Richmond in 2000, the organization was once primarily Richmond and
Charlottesville focused. This news comes just short of one year since the VA
Council of CEOs announced its plan to expand statewide.

According to a press release from the council, “the most powerful way CEOs connect within the Council is through a confidential peer roundtable group, made up of CEOs or business owners of non-competing companies. The minimum threshold for membership is $1M in annual revenue and five or more full-time equivalent employees. There is no cap in either category.

A VACEOs roundtable follows a structured protocol where advice is not given,
rather, experiences are shared in a no-judgement setting. The peer roundtables
ultimately help business owners to be more confident decision makers and to better
manage their business and personal issues, challenges, and opportunities. In short,
the Roundtable experience results in improved CEO performance and leadership.

“The peer-to-peer roundtable experience gives you a place to share personal and
professional challenges with other business owners who understand your
pressures. It’s a safe haven. And, it’s a pretty powerful thing,” said Arlene Lee,
CEO, Lee Building Company and member of the Council (Charlottesville).

Keith Hartman.

“We are excited to be able to bring the VA Council of CEOs peer Roundtable experience to the Roanoke and New River Valleys”, says Keith Hartman, Regional
Executive for the Virginia Council of CEOs. “Participation in a peer Roundtable can positively impact the entire spectrum of a CEO’s realm of influence. The insight gained from the variety of different perspectives represented in a peer Roundtable can be game-changing”.

Hartman joined the Council in January of 2021. His main responsibility is to assist with the nonprofit’s membership growth within the southwest region of the
Commonwealth. Small and mid-sized business owners interested in learning more about the benefits of a peer group or in additional information about the Council can reach him directly at

Aetna enters ACA marketplace in Richmond and Roanoke markets

Aetna CVS Health has announced that it is entering the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual insurance marketplace in Richmond and Roanoke markets for January 1, 2022.

This new offering is available in the following Virginia counties: Amelia, Botetourt, Chesterfield, Franklin, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Montgomery, New Kent, Powhatan, Radford, Richmond City, Roanoke, Roanoke city and Salem. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open Enrollment period is from November 1, 2021 until January 15, 2022.