Q1. In addition to your Graduate Certificate in Local Government Management, you have an undergraduate degree in Public and Urban Affairs from Virginia Tech. Did you know early on that you wanted to pursue a career in public administration? What sparked your interest in the field?
Morgan Quicke: I knew from an early age that Local Government was an interest of mine, for several reasons. Growing up, my father was on Town Council in Blackstone and my grandfather served on the Commonwealth Transportation Board throughout the 80’s. I always had a strong interest in what each of them did at both the local and state level, which led to my interest in local government. While attending Virginia Tech in Public Administration, I was able to intern with the Town of Blackstone during the summer, and the Town of Blacksburg during the school year. These two opportunities only furthered my interest in local government.
Q2. What advice would you give to current public administration students?
MQ: Many things. I would first of all tell them to meet and learn from as many Administrators, Asst. Administrators and Board of Supervisors Members they can. Attend events, interact with these people in a casual setting and you will learn a lot. Learn budget and finance, because the entire operation of a locality is dependent on the operating and capital budgets. Interact with employees and get outside with them to really learn their jobs and responsibilities. Get out in the public, be approachable, talk to people you do not really want to talk to. Read newspaper articles from throughout the state regarding local government, it is interesting how much you can learn from others.
Q3. Last year you were on a panel at an event hosted by the Rural Caucus discussing how to attract younger people to rural areas. One of the points you made was that businesses won’t invest in communities unless communities invest in themselves. What types of investments have you found to be most successful in attracting and retaining younger people, and the economic development opportunities that they can bring to a locality?
MQ: I wish I knew the secret to retaining youth in rural Virginia. There are many components to retaining and attracting younger people to rural areas, but it starts with jobs and opportunities. Most rural Virginians leave rural Virginia for higher populated regions primarily for job opportunities. I think one of the top priorities for rural Virginia should be the focus on long standing family owned businesses. These businesses are generally the fabric of rural areas, and if generation after generation can continue the successful operations of these businesses, it provides stability, and it keeps the younger generation in the area to hopefully build off of what those before them created, with the goal of making them bigger and stronger. I had a Board Member tell me once that 10-12 businesses that can employ 5-10 people each, are just as important as that one large company that has the ability to create 100 jobs. I think rural Virginia needs to understand that unless you are on a major transportation corridor, our opportunities for large employers are going to be limited, but our opportunity to see smaller businesses become established is limitless.
Of course education, workforce, technology, recreation, dining and other activities play into the bigger picture as well.
Q4. You are a member of your regional council for the GO Virginia initiative. What are your goals for economic growth in the region? What projects are underway in your region that you are particularly excited about?
MQ: I believe that the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula have a unique opportunity to continue to promote and advertise the natural beauty of the landscape, through different agribusiness, aquaculture and tourism opportunities. I do not believe that our economic growth goals can mirror those of Richmond, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, so we have to continue to find a market that works for us.
I believe that the PamunkeyNet Project bringing more high speed internet to the rural areas of the region could have a major impact on the localities involved. Rural broadband is at the top of the list for all rural localities.
Q5. In your view, what are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing Richmond County in the next ten years?
MQ: One of our biggest challenges over the next 10 years will be the continued expansion of emergency services within the County. Once a completely volunteer service in Richmond County, we are now operating fully paid EMS and Volunteer Fire. I think that both of these services will have to expand in the coming years to better efficiently serve the entire County better.
As mentioned above, I think we have the opportunity over the next ten years to retain and attract more of the younger generation through several initiatives that are currently ongoing throughout Richmond County and the Town of Warsaw. The creation of the Warsaw-Richmond County Main Street Program several years ago seems to have created a renewed sense of optimism that needs to be further expanded through programs and ideas. We also need to continue to enhance recreational opportunities for our residents of all ages.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle