The Henry County Board of Supervisors, the Martinsville City Council and the county’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) approved a revised revenue sharing agreement on the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre (CCBC) during a joint meeting held at the Harvest Foundation on July 11.
The atmosphere at the meeting was jovial as county and city officials met around a long table, with other participants, including Harvest staff and board members, and observers seated around the edges of the room.
Among those gathered at the meeting table were County Administrator Dale Wagoner, outgoing Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki, who is due to retire at the end of this month, and Glen Adams of the Berkley Group, who will serve as interim city manager starting Aug. 1.
Wagoner explained that in 2007, the county, city and IDA entered into a revenue-sharing agreement “to facilitate the joint development of an expansion of the county’s Patriot Centre and new industrial park located on 220 South. The city and the county are responsible for all the expenses related to the development of the parks, and both localities will benefit from the taxes generated by the parks. The IDA would own the land.
“During our recent efforts to secure grant funding for additional grading at Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, it was requested that the agreements be split into two separate agreements since the development at Commonwealth Crossing was moving much faster than that at the Bryant property,” Wagoner said.
“Additionally, it was noted, during the effort to secure grant funding, that there was not a sustainability plan to ensure adequate funding to be available for future development” or marketing the sites, Wagoner said.
Officials agreed to the revisions, the first of which will split the original agreement into two separate agreements for the CCBC and the land adjacent to the Patriot Centre, commonly referred to as the Bryant Property. The second revision directs a portion of the tax revenue generated from Lot #2 of CCBC to the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) for future marketing, recruitment, and development activities.
“The actions that we have taken today are proof that our two localities can work together to accomplish our common goals,” said Adams. “Economic development remains a top priority for the Board of Supervisors, as I’m sure it is for city council. By approving these changes to our existing revenue-sharing agreements, we are reaffirming our belief in collaboration and positioning our economic development efforts for success in the years to come.”
“This is a great example of the city and county working cooperatively together for the betterment of our community,” Towarnick said. “The revenue-related funding agreement will help with anticipated grading costs of Tract 2 at CCBC and helps to provide sustainable funding for the EDC for years to come.”
Now that the revisions have been approved, the agreement will be forwarded to the Commission on Local Government for its review and issuance of findings of fact.
A $6 million grant from The Harvest Foundation was also announced Tuesday, just after the revised agreement was signed. Grant funds will assist with the development of Lot 2 in Commonwealth Crossing.
“Economic development remains a top priority for the Board of Supervisors, as I’m sure it is for city council. With help from community partners like The Harvest Foundation, we are accomplishing that goal,” Adams said.
“While administrative functions, like those taken today, aren’t as flashy as a groundbreaking ceremony, they are nonetheless just as important and symbolic of the tremendous amount of effort that goes into attracting new industries, which sometimes goes unnoticed,” Adams said.
He compared economic development efforts to a race: “Acts like these today create the momentum that will eventually carry us through the finish line. Our foot is on the gas pedal and the checkered flag is in sight.”
“It is truly a blessing to have all of us in the same room at the same time, smiling and laughing,” said Jones. “This is something we’ve all envisioned for a long time. To see it happen is truly historic. We’re ready to support you and Harvest.”
Tract 2 of Commonwealth Crossing is on track to be Virginia’s only 150-acre industrial site (on a total land tract of 200 acres) with rail service and full utilities: water, sewer, electric, natural gas and fiber internet.
The Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre covers 726 acres altogether. Crown Holdings, Press Glass and the 26,000-square-foot Commonwealth Centre for Advanced Training, and the unoccupied Tract 3 covers 100 acres.
Tract 2 is being developed with a $22 million grant from Virginia’s Business Ready Site Program and additional support from local municipalities and now, Harvest’s $6 million grant.
Harvest’s ceremonial check presentation was held in the hall right after the meeting.
“Economic development has been a cornerstone of The Harvest Foundation’s strategic plan,” said Harvest Executive Director Kate Keller. “We have been really focused on bringing livable wages, jobs to this community and increasing our tax rates, and we’ve done that in partnership with both the city and the county over the years” as well as the EDC.
“This investment is to bring more opportunities to our community … and to help us be competitive in a global market.”
That brings Harvest’s total investment into Commonwealth Crossing to more than $16 million, she said.
“Today’s meeting was all about partnership and about us working together as a community so that we can make an investment in our future,” she said.