Commonwealth Centre for Advanced Training (CCAT) Now Under Construction
May 23, 2018
Martinsville, VA (May 23, 2018) - Construction has begun on the Commonwealth Centre for Advanced Training (CCAT) at the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, and companies considering locating at the business park are taking notice.
“It has definitely enhanced our marketing efforts,” said Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC), which is seeking to recruit companies to the 800-acre business park in southern Henry County.
And that interest comes at a good time.
“We are as busy as we’ve been in my time as Henry County administrator,” said Tim Hall, who took over the job in August 2012. “Interest is strong right now in both Commonwealth Crossing and the Patriot Centre industrial parks in the county,” he said.
When companies look for new sites, “labor force and training are the No. 1” concerns, Heath said, and CCAT is designed to address those issues.
The 25,889-square-foot CCAT facility will serve only companies that locate in Commonwealth Crossing. In its 10,553 square feet of office/conference space, a company will be able to recruit and hire prospective employees. Then, new employees will train on the company’s own equipment that it will move into the building’s 15,336-square-foot high bay.
Once the training is completed, the company will remove the equipment to make way for the next business’ machinery and training.
Companies are “intrigued and receptive” to the idea of being able to train new employees near their new location, Hall said.
Henry County owns the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, and the EDC will own the CCAT building as well as have office space there. Patrick Henry Community College will provide the training at the facility.
Heath described CCAT as a “one-stop, seamless” facility that will save companies time and money on recruiting and training a staff.
The people who will work at companies locating in Commonwealth Crossing are now employed somewhere else, Heath and Hall both said.
“They have shown they have a work ethic and have been vetted and are looking to improve,” Hall said.
Heath said he tells prospective companies that they should expect to pay at least $15 an hour and if they do, they will have no problem attracting employees who can pass background checks and have good work ethics. “They want to be the preferred employer in an area,” Heath said. “A revolving door has real costs.”
Hall said he was surprised to learn that, according to EDC research, 1,600 people drive by the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre each day. “We need to give them a reason to turn right” into the new industrial park, he said.
And that is only a fraction of the employees who leave the area for jobs each day. According to 2015 figures from the EDC, nearly 11,000 people travel to jobs outside the area daily, with the highest percentage going to Roanoke-Salem where, according to Heath, they are attracted to higher paying jobs in the medical field. Conversely, nearly 9,800 people commute into Martinsville-Henry County daily, with the largest percentage coming from Danville-Pittsylvania County.
Henry County and Martinsville had a combined area unemployment rate of 4.7 percent in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Heath said there are 1,307 people in Martinsville-Henry County looking for work now, though he and Hall acknowledged that unemployment figures do not reflect people who have given up looking for work.
If someone wants a job locally now, there are positions available in companies such as Eastman, Monogram and Arconic, Hall and Heath said.
“The whole fantasy that there are no jobs here is completely bogus,” Hall said. He said for his budget presentation to the Henry County Board of Supervisors this spring he used the theme, “The Signs are Everywhere,” which he illustrated with photographs of “help wanted” signs throughout the county.
“If you’re willing to work … you can,” he added.
Heath said his recent travels have shown him that the labor problem is not unique to this area. It is a global issue, he said.
“The communities that can solve work force problems will win,” he said. It no longer is enough to have graded sites to attract companies, he said, pointing to the edge CCAT is giving Commonwealth Crossing.
Construction on the CCAT facility began around May 1, and it is expected to be completed in 12 months, Hall said. Right now, boards mark the spots where footings will be poured. G&H Construction of Salem is the contractor for the project, and subcontractors also are being used, he said. G&H also was the contractor for the new Meadow View Elementary School in Henry County. Delays in that project and weather issues held up the start of CCAT construction, Hall said.
“We have a great relationship with G&H,” Heath added.
The $13 million project at Commonwealth Crossing is funded with a $5 million Harvest Foundation grant as well as funds from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. Those funds were leveraged to generate an additional $2.7 million in New Market Tax Credits through the U.S. Treasury Department to construct the CCAT building as well as a nearby water tank and sewer lift station for the business center.
There is no county tax money in the project, Hall and Heath said.
A flyer on the project states that it is expected to support 46 direct construction jobs at an average hourly wage of $18.82. Once complete, CCAT will have the capacity to train 1,500 individuals a year. CCAT is located on part of Lot 1 at Commonwealth Crossing. Its high bay will face a water tank being constructed at the business center.
WHAT IS THAT?
The large structure rising from the Commonwealth Crossing Business Park is the base of the water tank that will provide fire protection for companies locating there.
Hall said when the tank is completed by the end of this year; it will hold a million gallons of water that will be pumped in by the Henry County Public Service Authority (PSA).
The tower is made of concrete squares that were poured on the site and raised into place by a crane, Hall said. During that process, there were openings for the squares that resembled windows, raising speculation about the tower’s purpose by passersby, he said.
Those openings all have been filled, and the next step will be to place the tank itself on top of the tower, Hall said.
The work is being done by Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors LLC of Avon, Ind., which specializes in such work, Hall said. Henry County issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the project and Phoenix was the low bidder, he added.
The mission of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation is to create new job opportunities and expand the tax base for the area. The organization strives to support and develop local industry, as well as market Martinsville-Henry County globally as an exceptional place to live, work and play.
The EDC is a public-private partnership between the City of Martinsville, Henry County, the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG) and the Harvest Foundation of the Piedmont.