Debi Roder Interview Blog

What attracted you to Prince William County?

What first attracted me to Prince William County is the County’s vision and strategic thinking, particularly its proven commitment to investing in economic development and to think outside the box.  A good example of this was the County’s willingness to construct and manage the Prince William Science Accelerator in 2016 – providing the critical infrastructure needed to launch the life sciences cluster. Prince William County is still the only County in Northern Virginia to have a wet-lab accelerator. To me, this investment really exemplifies the County’s willingness to invest in the now for long-term benefits –  something I deeply respect.  
 

Since I’ve started, I’ve also been thrilled by the culture of the Economic Development and larger government staff.  People work hard, are kind to each other and share a strong sense of mission – to make Prince William County a community of choice to live, work and build a business. 

 
 

What is your position and what will be your top priorities?

I have the privilege of being the life sciences manager on the economic development team.  My primary goal is to leverage the Prince William Science Accelerator to make sure it fulfills its intended purpose –  attract and support growing life sciences companies to Prince William County.  In addition to filling the labs, I plan to help companies become commercially viable and successfully transition from the Accelerator into larger space within the County.  This goal will be assisted greatly through the County’s collaboration in the development of a 30,000 sq./ft. commercial wet lab building due to be opened in November 2021.   Of course, my work also includes attracting large life sciences companies to the County.  I do this by travelling to large national conferences that focus on life sciences to meet companies from all over the US and explain why Prince William County is their ideal life sciences location. 
 

I’m also working on growing the Life Sciences community here in Prince William County.  My goal is to build on the existing collaborations and programs that already exist within George Mason University and other institutions to create a strong synergistic network and a unique identity for the County’s life sciences community.  Practically, this means developing relationships and partnerships with life sciences companies and those who support them.  It also means developing programs and planning events.
 

We host programs at all times of the day to suit all schedules. We have morning leadership groups, afternoon “lunch and learn” bootcamps to build entrepreneurial skills, and evening Beer and Bio events.  My goal is to provide multiple opportunities for like-minded individuals to meet, learn and have fun.

 

What skills and experience do you bring to this position?  (essentially what can you offer)

My previous experience focused on supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and tech startups.  This included building a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, something I’m hoping to replicate within the life sciences community here in Prince William County.  When I sit down with a biotech company, I find my background helps me understand their business model and needs, even if I don’t understand all the science! 

 

And lastly, you have been on the job for a short while now, what was the most interesting thing you have learned or surprised you about PWC?

Everyday I get to learn something new from the amazing companies with which I work.  I’ve always had an interest in science and an awe for scientific achievement.  It’s wonderful and fascinating to learn about all the amazing breakthroughs taking place right here in Prince William County and meet the extraordinarily talented professionals behind them.  It’s a joy working to make sure those achievements are transferred to the market and ultimately improve the lives of everyday people.

 

 

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