New signs that project a new image of Henry County have been installed at two entrances to the county

The signs have been placed on U.S. 220 just inside southern Henry County and near the Blue Ridge Regional Airport in Spencer — the “front doors to the community,” according to County Administrator Tim Hall and Mark Heath, president/CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. 

  The signs feature the name “Henry County” against a contemporary background of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The signs are mounted on arched bases and are striking at night with LED lighting that makes the county’s name stand out in the darkness. The area around them are landscaped.

   They are dramatically different from other welcome signs in Henry County, and that was on purpose.

   “We are not who we used to be,” Hall said. “I get a little irritated with the ‘woe is us’ attitude (of some people). We are not what we used to be. We want to be better than we’ve ever been.”

   To do that, Henry County has created the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre near the sign on U.S. 220 and the EDC is constructing the unique Commonwealth Centre for Advanced Training facility there to help attract businesses, Hall said. Also, there are good jobs available at industries such as Eastman, Monogram and Arconic, among others, he said.

   That is in contrast with the 1990s and early 2000s when the area was known for the loss of its furniture and textile industries and the resulting high unemployment.

  Now, “We need to change our DNA,” Heath said. “The pity party is over.” Heath added that he wanted the new signs to give a professional impression of the area and its industrial parks. “When you come into the park (Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre), we want you to know you’re dealing with professionals, people you can trust,” he said.

    The county and EDC collaborated on the new signs. The county did most of the design, design approval and other work, and the EDC paid for the signs, Hall and Heath said. Hall specifically cited the work of Tim Pace, the county’s director of engineering, and his staff on the project.