M-HC EDC awarded $5.7 million from The Harvest Foundation
The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC)received a three-year grant of $5.7 million from The Harvest Foundation to support new job creation and tax base increase in Martinsville-Henry County.
“We are experiencing the lowest unemployment rates in over a decade in our region now as current companies continue expansion efforts and new companies look to our region for startup or relocation opportunities,” said Allyson Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation. “We are grasping the moment to continue the support of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation. Since 2007, the EDC has assisted in the creation of over 4,500 new jobs and increased the tax base in excess of $400 million. We believe this investment and partnership will continue to provide a strong return on investment for the entire region.”
As of September 2017, the combined unemployment rate of Martinsville-Henry County was 5.1 percent, which is the lowest unemployment rate reported in a decade. The EDC has facilitated job growth in many industries including manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, office and small business. In the past three years alone, the increase in new jobs led to the generation of more than $31 million in additional local payroll annually.
A large part of the EDC’s future growth will involve marketing Commonwealth Crossing to prospective tenants across the country and abroad. Mark Heath, president and CEO of the EDC, said Commonwealth Crossing came from a decade-ago realization that the Martinsville-Henry County area was not competitive for all types of projects in the marketplace, specifically those requiring rail service.
“Economic development is like a jigsaw puzzle – where no one has all the pieces. Our goal is to have more pieces than our competition,” Heath said.
“This decade-long mission has not been without serious thought and planning,” Heath said. “You don’t assemble all the assets we have in our area overnight. Labor, utilities and many other factors go into the recruiting process, but if you don’t have the sites or buildings that bring those industries here initially, you don’t even get to talk about other factors. Those conversations would never take place.”
Taking a holistic approach to economic development, the EDC also plays a major role in local and regional tourism. The EDC’s tourism program has expanded to market area assets year-round, and capitalize from major assets like the Martinsville Speedway, Philpott Marina, Smith River Sports Complex and the Virginia Museum of Natural History.
On an average day in Martinsville-Henry County, tourism generates $12,500 daily in combined state and local taxes, $4,127 of which in local taxes, according to a study prepared by the Virginia Tourism Corporation for the U.S. Travel Association. Each household in the area also pays $156 less in state and local taxes annually as a result of taxes generated by tourist spending.
“Tourism is a vital component of any successful economic development program, and we are encouraged by how welcoming our community members are to visitors,” said Sarah Hodges, director of tourism for the EDC.
The EDC is a public-private partnership between the City of Martinsville, Henry County, Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG) and The Harvest Foundation. Visit yesmartinsville.com and visitmartinsville.com to find out more.