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The History of Williamson Road in Roanoke, VA

Built initially as a means to get to downtown in 1912, Williamson Road was funded by residents around the area, and Virginia used prisoners to help get it built. The residents requesting the road gave up their land and provided the machinery to get the job done. The road is actually named for a family who had their land condemned by the state. For many years, it was the mainstay thoroughfare in which you got to Roanoke. Many businesses and homes were constructed along this route. Then it all changed when I-81 and I-581 were built. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Williamson Road was less populated with the new, quicker route to get to the highway. It started to see many businesses leave with newer, more dubious ones popping up in their absence.

open for business sign

How Williamson Road Area Business Association Got Started

In 1981, we came together as local business owners to help change and improve the area to become more attractive to home and business owners to go back for economic development and sustainability. Whether it was helping with landscaping around an abandoned business, or cleaning up roadways and other visual amenities, we were there to help. Our dedication to the Williamson Road area knows no bounds. On May 24, 1993, the Roanoke City Council adopted ordinance number 31427, establishing the Williamson Road Area as a Special Service District (SSD). This helps us get funding to achieve our goals. Our membership is volunteer-based, so getting the extra help was necessary to help build it out to be the best possible version of itself.

The WRABA Mission Statement and Vision

Before we made our business association legitimate, we knew we had to create a unified mission statement to ensure it was clearly understood what we wanted to accomplish. We decided on “to strengthen businesses and the economic environment for those who work, live and do business within the greater Williamson Road Area Business Association” with a matching vision statement of “to be the essential partner for business success.”

WRABA and You, Partners for Progress