The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority (RVBA) is a regional partnership started by local business leaders and four local municipalities, including The City of Salem, The City of Roanoke, Roanoke County and Botetourt County, to invest in the development of the region’s first open-access fiber-optic internet network.
It takes a community working together—businesses, the government, non-profits—for something like this to take shape, and, as a community, we all stand to benefit.
– Sam English, Roanoke Entrepreneur
Focused on economic development, the RVBA is seeking to increase enterprise broadband access, speed and capacity while driving down average end-user costs and reducing barriers to entry for innovative new companies wishing to invest in the region.
With the launch of the new high-speed, carrier-grade fiber optic network in April 2016, Roanoke regional businesses, schools, libraries, and non-profits can now connect to stable, enterprise-quality fiber Internet and data transport services with unprecedented reliability, security and 100% transparency in pricing. Additionally, businesses may lease “dark fiber” to maintain more control over their own IT infrastructure as they plan for future growth, speed, and capacity enhancements.
Finally, existing regional enterprise Internet providers now have access to lower-cost, higher-quality infrastructure. No longer needing to foot the entire bill to build reliable fiber optic connections to the region, Roanoke’s existing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can leverage the network to compete more efficiently in the local economy and more effectively across the globe.
In 2011, at the urging of several concerned citizens and local business owners, four regional municipalities (The City of Salem, The City of Roanoke, Roanoke County and The County of Botetourt) joined forces to finance a study on fiber-optic Internet access across the region.
When it was discovered that the Roanoke Valley lagged behind the rest of the country with only 8% of the metro population having access to fiber networks (compared to the national average of 24%), a task force was formed to develop specific recommendations that would make the Roanoke Valley a better place to live and work.
In January of 2014, the four municipalities officially took action on these recommendations by forming the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority to expand the regional broadband infrastructure and make it easier for both new and existing providers to deploy their technology across the Roanoke Valley.
- Developing a plan for construction and operation of a high-speed, redundant regional network “ring” to reach schools, industrial parks, large employers and other economic centers,
- Developing cooperative agreements for localities with technical specifications and commercial terms for operating the network and exchanging data across municipal boundaries
- Developing dig-once requirements for construction projects, including the placement of open-access conduit for optical fiber cable
- Communicating broadband related activity to the public
Taken together, the RVBA is driving measurable improvements to fiber-optic Internet accessibility, affordability, reliability, and Internet speeds for the purposes of advancing the long-term economic prospects of the region.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Michael T. McEvoy – Chairman of the Board
Michael T. McEvoy is the citizen representative of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority and Executive Director for Wastewater Services with the Western Virginia Water Authority, a regional water and wastewater utility provider serving 180,000 customers in the Roanoke area. A graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, Mr. McEvoy has worked for electric and water utilities in Florida and Georgia before moving to Virginia. He serves as Vice President and Treasurer for the Virginia Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies, is Vice Chair of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority and serves on the Board of the Virginia Biosolids Council. Mr. McEvoy has been an appointee under three different governors to various environmental advisory agencies including the Roanoke River Bi-State Commission and the State Water Commission.
Dan O’Donnell – Vice Chairman
Dan O’Donnell serves as the County Administrator of Roanoke County, VA. Mr. O’Donnell served as Roanoke County’s Assistant County Administrator from June 2000 through December 2018 and Interim County Administrator from August 2015 through December 2015. He has an extensive background in local government administration, including service as County Administrator for Steuben County, New York (1996-2000) and Berkeley County, West Virginia (1991-1996). Prior to 1991, he worked to promote economic development for two agencies in the Baltimore, Maryland area. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from West Virginia University as well as a Bachelor of Science Degree in History. He is a Certified Local Government Manager with the International City/County Management Association.
Robert S. Cowell
Robert S. Cowell serves as the City Manager for the City of Roanoke. Having previously served as the Deputy City Manager for the City of Amarillo, Texas, Mr. Cowell brings a wealth of management credentials including being a Certified Urban Planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners; an Accredited Member with the Congress for the New Urbanism, and a Credential Manager with the International City/County Management Association. In addition to serving on the Board of ICMA, he maintains membership in the American Planning Association, the Congress for the New Urbanism, the Urban Land Institute, and the Society of American City and Regional Planning History. He received a B.S. from St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo. and an M.S. in urban planning from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, in Knoxville, Tenn.
Gary Larrowe is County Administrator for Botetourt County, VA and has served as Executive of the Public Service Authority there for 11 years. Prior to his current position, Larrowe served as County Administrator for Carroll County, VA and worked for Virginia Tech University for 17 years. He has received awards for his public service work from Rotary International, USDA Virginia Tech and the United Way. He earned his Master’s in Adult Education from Radford University and his Bachelor’s in Agricultural Education and Economics from Virginia Polytechnic.
Jay Taliaferro is the City Manager for the City of Salem, VA. Prior to his current role, he served as Assistant City Manager beginning in 2000, City Engineer beginning in 1998, and Staff Engineer beginning in 1991. He has previously served with a variety of regional organizations including Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the Western Virginia Regional Jail. Taliaferro earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Clemson in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s of Public Administration from Virginia Tech.
Frank Smith – President and CEO
Frank Smith is the President and CEO of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority. He has worked in telecommunications for nearly 30 years in both the commercial and government sectors including several years supporting the development of DoD related networks. Frank is a graduate of Washington & Lee University with a degree in Public Policy. He has served on the boards of the Transportation and Science museums. He is an Eagle Scout and serves as an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 221 in Cave Spring and also serves as an Elder of Christ the King Presbyterian Church. Frank lives in the City of Roanoke with his wife and his two teenage sons.
James Bandy – Vice President of Operations and Solutions Engineering
James Bandy is Vice President of Operations and Solutions Engineering for the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority. James has 20 years experience in the telecommunications industry managing presale design and post sale support. Past positions include Regional Data Specialist, Sales Engineering Manager and Director Network Application Engineering specializing in WAN, Security, Voice and Internet design strategies. James is a native of Roanoke Valley and currently lives in Roanoke City with his wife and two children.
Olivia Dooley – Chief Fiscal Officer
Olivia Dooley is the Chief Fiscal Officer of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority. She has over 30 years of experience in the Roanoke Valley as Director of Finance for organizations such as the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission and LOA Area Agency of Aging. Olivia has developed and revised multi-million dollar budgets and maintained compliance and audit standards across roles. She graduated from Radford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.
Barry Stacy – Operations Project Manager
Barry Stacy is the Operations Project Manager for the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority. Stacy has over 28 years of experience supporting municipal government and previously served as the Codes Compliance Coordinator for the City of Roanoke. He is a locally and internationally-certified Zoning Official and Building Maintenance Inspector. Stacy earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a Master’s of Public Administration from Virginia Tech.
The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority is a partnership of public and private entities striving to enhance economic development across the Roanoke Valley by improving affordable high speed internet services that encourage collaboration and competition among large institutions, government facilities, and businesses in and around the region.