September 6, 2017
MARTINSVILLE — Ground was broken today for a unique training center that will serve companies locating in the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre.
The Commonwealth Centre for Advanced Training (CCAT) will enable companies to recruit, hire and train employees in close proximity to their new operations at Commonwealth Crossing in southern Henry County.
The CCAT facility will include about 25,000 square feet of office and training space. This will include a high bay area where a company can place its own equipment for training. Once the training is completed, the company will remove the equipment to make way for the next business to move its machinery in, and so on.
The one-level building also will have office/training facilities where employers can conduct interviews and other aspects of the hiring process; rest rooms and showers adjacent to the high bay; breakout rooms; and office/conference space for the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) to use when recruiting and working with Commonwealth Crossing companies.
The new training center is a partnership of the EDC, which will own the building; Patrick Henry Community College, which will conduct workforce training there; Henry County, which owns Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre through its Industrial Development Authority; and The Harvest Foundation, which provided a $5 million grant for the project.
“This training center is consistent with the EDC’s strategic plan which is built on the creation of new, higher paying jobs and capital investment for community,” said Christopher Beeler, chairman of the EDC board. “The EDC is proud to be involved with all our partners to create this unique opportunity for companies choosing to locate in Commonwealth Crossing.”
EDC President/CEO Mark Heath said he believes CCAT’s location at Commonwealth Crossing will give the industrial park an edge over its competition when recruiting companies.
“We looked at our competitors throughout the Southeast and only found one building that was anything like this, and that only had classroom space,” Heath said. Also, having broken ground on the training center shows prospective companies that the facility is a reality, he said.
Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams agreed: “A trained work force is essential for a community’s growth and prosperity. We think CCAT will separate us from some communities with which we compete for projects.”
PHCC President Dr. Angeline Godwin has seen this type of training center be so successful in Kentucky that one area built a second training facility. “It’s a best-practice model across the country … unique,” especially to Commonwealth Crossing competitors, she said.
“We are delighted the community will have this unique and extraordinary asset,” Godwin said. “We know workforce is a key trigger in economic development recruitment” and CCAT will give companies flexibility to customize their training needs and begin that training at the same time their facilities are being constructed.
“When they have the grand opening on their new facility, their new workforce is able to literally almost walk across the parking lot and work on the same equipment,” Godwin added.
The addition of a training facility provides a tremendous benefit to industries planning to locate at Commonwealth Crossing in that employees can be recruited, hired, and trained on-site while the plant is being constructed, according to City of Martinsville Mayor Gene Teague.
“This could allow the industry to be in a profitable production mode almost as the doors open,” Teague said. “Also, the ability to move human resources and administrative functions on-site while the plant is under construction allows for a seamless transition to full plant operations. Commonwealth Crossing already is one of the premier mega-sites in the eastern United States and the addition of the training facility not only demonstrates our commitment to providing a high-quality complex, but gives Commonwealth Crossing a clear and unique advantage in the highly competitive arena of economic development.”
The large high bay will be a key feature of the CCAT building and will provide ample room for advanced manufacturing training. The CCAT high bay will be the second such option available locally. A high bay at New College Institute is used for the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing, and it is full of large machinery suited for the performance film industry and others. CCAT’s high bay will exclusively serve companies moving into Commonwealth Crossing.
The EDC has hired the architectural firm of RRMM of Roanoke and contractors G&H Construction of Salem for the project. Both currently are working on construction of the Meadow View Elementary School in Henry County.
Heath noted that jobs will be created locally when construction of CCAT begins, hopefully by the end of this year. It likely will take 12 to 18 months to complete.
The CCAT building will be in the southernmost part of Lot 1 at Commonwealth Crossing. It will not be in the way of any company seeking to locate there, Heath said, adding, “It enhances the marketability of the lot.”
Heath said prospective companies have been excited at the idea of an on-site training center at Commonwealth Crossing. With 160 acres of pad-ready sites, the park is attracting interest from mega projects — defined at a $250 million or more investment and creation of 400 or more jobs — for which it was designed.
“We have a number of projects” or prospects considering locating in Commonwealth Crossing, Heath said. If such a mega-company decided to move there today, he said it would take that company a year to start construction and another two years to complete it. CCAT would be in place by then.
The Harvest Foundation approved the $5 million grant in 2013 for the EDC to build the training center when Commonwealth Crossing was ready for the project. Additional funding opportunities also are being explored.
When the EDC talked with companies about CCAT, “it resonated with clients so much that we thought if we could be meeting with them in the building on site while they’re looking at it (the industrial park), it would enhance the site,” Heath said.
Allyson Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation, noted the value of the partnership involved in the training center.
“Following 15 years of funding in Martinsville-Henry County and our very focused strategy of job creation and tax base increase, it is more apparent than ever that partnering on projects such as this will truly have the greatest impact on our citizens over the long run. Providing living wage jobs coupled with an employer incentive of a cutting-edge training facility located directly on the premises at Commonwealth Crossing and a training partner with a track record like PHCC demonstrates a tremendous impact opportunity for our investment to assist with a game-changing model for the community,” she said.
“The entire region wins with this initiative and we are happy to see such an opportunity,” Rothrock added.
Partners in the development of Commonwealth Crossing included Henry County, the Harvest Foundation, the City of Martinsville, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Tobacco Commission, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
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