Work on shell building to start
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
More than 40 people attended the ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday for the 96,970-square-foot shell building on lot 8 in the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park.
The ceremonial shovel used by Jim Adams, chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, had been used in the groundbreakings for two previous shell buildings, Deputy County Administrator Dale Wagoner said. Those buildings now are occupied by RTI International Metals and Commonwealth Laminating & Coating.
"We're not going to hang it on a wall. We're going to keep on using it," Wagoner said of the shovel.
Adams said he was pleased to be breaking ground for the building with the partners involved in the project.
"The shell building will provide a site-ready building that can easily be finished out in a matter of days, not months or years, saving a company valuable construction time," he said. "Statistics say 80 percent of companies looking to expand into an area will first look at the inventory of available buildings a community has to offer. By having a flexible and available building, we will have a significant advantage over an area that does not have that option."
He said the county, the city of Martinsville and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. working together have proven that "our shell building program can and will be successful."
Blair Construction recently was awarded a $3.5 million contract to construct the new shell building. EDC President/CEO Mark Heath said Blair also built the shell building occupied by RTI.
Adams said "success in economic development requires a holistic approach that is built on partnerships and teamwork," and that "a new shell building gives us another tool to attract advanced manufacturing, good paying jobs to our community."
Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins said the willingness of the city, county and EDC "to invest in this project underscores our commitment to bringing in new industry, new investment and more opportunities for employment to this community."
"A new, modern, well-designed and well-built shell building will provide a product that can be readily marketed," she said. She added that without marketable shell buildings, "it's quite likely" that neither RTI nor Commonwealth Laminating would be at Patriot Centre industrial park today.
"I look forward to returning to this site in the near future to witness a different kind of ribbon cutting, welcoming the next new industry to the Patriot Centre," she said.
"We're here to celebrate success. ... Success breeds success," Heath said.
He praised funders: the county, city, the Chamber's Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG) and the Harvest Foundation. C-PEG and Harvest provide funding for the EDC, he said.
He said the unique funding partnerships provide this area with economic development opportunities that many other areas don't have. He added that the shell building program "separates us from the competition. That's exactly what we want."
The EDC will pay startup costs such as engineering, interest during construction and interest for up to one year after completion, and the county and city are responsible for paying the interest in years 2-5 on the customary two-thirds, one-third split, officials have said. The county's share of the interest will be about $45,500 annually, and the city's share will be about $22,750 a year, an EDC document shows. Heath said the EDC has budgeted $150,000 for the project.
The EDC does not yet have any prospects for the shell building, Heath said, adding that interest will pick up once construction begins. He said it could take up to five years to find a tenant, but he doesn't think it will take that long.
The types of businesses most likely to be interested in the shell building are aerospace, food processing, plastics and data centers, he said.
Even if potential prospects don't end up choosing the site, once they look at the area, they might decide to construct their own building or lease another building in the area, all of which would benefit the local economy, he said.
Heath also praised others involved in the project, including Dewberry (the architect) and Tim Pace, the county's engineer.
County Administrator Tim Hall estimated construction of the shell building will be completed in March or April 2014.
"I think it will mean jobs," Martinsville City Councilman Mark Stroud said of the shell building.