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the Cane Creek Centre Industrial Park, jointly owned by Danville and Pittsylvania County. The state competed against North Carolina and the United Kingdom for the project, which is expected to create 35 jobs. The area’s emphasis on technical


training is a draw for international companies, especially firms from the United Kingdom. Danville has had several visits from other British companies involved in advanced manufacturing. “We are trying to bring manu-


facturing back,” Wright says. “That is the strategic reason we wanted to have a workforce that managed and was comfortable with 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week operations.” The 3,500-acre Berry Hill indus-


trial park in Pittsylvania, which broke ground this March, is being graded, and prospects are being lined up. “We have a sizeable, large advanced-man- ufacturing business coming in, but it has not been announced,” Wright says. “We have an option on a site by the Southern Co. for a gas-fired electric generation facility.” The city’s River District, for-


merly known as the downtown and warehouse district, also is attracting businesses. “There is a lot going on there,” Wright says. “Twenty-seven million dollars of public funds gener- ated about $130 million of private investment. We have several hundred market-rate apartments leased before they are finished with 95-plus percent occupancy rates. Three to four new restaurants, craft breweries and a bou- tique distillery have been announced.”


Mega-site training center Martinsville-Henry County is


also focusing on workforce training. This year it broke ground on the Commonwealth Centre for Advanced Training at the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, a mega-site industrial park in southern Henry County. The facility will include a high bay area where a company moving to the park can bring in its own equip-


Photo by Steven Mantilla


Mark Heath (second from left), president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., believes a new training facility at the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre will give it an advantage in competing for business prospects. With Heath are (from left) Tom Pace, director of engineering for Henry County; Tim Hall, Henry County administrator; and Spencer Johnson, director of research and operations for Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.


ment for training. Once training is completed, the company would remove the equipment to make way for the next business. “We typically compete with


states such as Tennessee, Georgia and North and South Carolina,” says Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. “We haven’t run up against anything like this training facility in those states. This will provide seamless training and pre-employment screening testing to allow people to move from the training facility to the manufacturing facility.” In June Martinsville-Henry


County received one of eight state Business Ready Sites Program devel- opment grants for Commonwealth Crossing. The $500,000 grant will help with the cost of an onsite water tank. Designed as a job and tax-base


generator, the industrial park already has caught the attention of domestic and international companies, officials say. The park was built for projects involving investment of $250 million or more, creating 400 or more jobs. “The center is designed so it can be expanded,” Heath says. “It should


www.VirginiaBusiness.com


be completed by May 2019.” Martinsville-Henry County has


landed five economic development deals this year as well as being the site of several local company expansions. The projects represent $20.7 million in total new investment with the promise of 127 new jobs. Area expansions included Bassett


Furniture and Eastman Chemical Co. Bassett is investing $1.5 million in equipment and plans to add 22 employees during the next few years. Eastman Chemical, a global advanced materials and specialty additives company, is investing $11.7 million to expand its manufacturing operation. Canadian sliding glass door


manufacturer Novatech opened its first U.S. plant in Henry County in January, which created nearly 50 jobs. “The last three years have been


pretty consistent and steady for us, and that is what we hope to continue,” Heath says. “People are upbeat about manufacturing in general. The future of manufacturing here looks good. It’s getting stronger and improving. It’s been a while since bullish attitude about manufacturing. We are grateful it’s come our way.”


VIRGINIA BUSINESS 89


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