February 11, 2011
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Statistics compiled by the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) show the community did well in attracting new jobs in 2010.
The county and city ranked fifth among localities in Virginia in terms of the number of new jobs announced last year and tied for sixth place in terms of announcements of projects that create jobs. The county and city also led area localities in terms of new jobs and job announcements.
The EDC presented the statistics to the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s board on Thursday. The Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG), an affiliate, helps fund the EDC — a business and industry recruitment organization — with the city, county and Harvest Foundation.
With the EDC’s help, the county and city last year announced eight projects in which a total of 605 jobs are to be created within 36 months, according to Leigh Cockram, vice president of the organization. Total investment in those projects has been estimated at $14.1 million.
She did not know how many of those jobs already have been created. Job losses were not discussed.
The projects include two at Drake Extrusion and one each at Faneuil Inc., Monogram Meat Snacks, Kimball Hospitality, Southern Finishing, SleepSafe Beds and The Tile Shop.
While this area ranked fifth in the state for the 605 new jobs announced, it was first among smaller-sized communities. It was exceeded only by Fairfax County, Henrico County, Virginia Beach and Loudoun County, all of which are larger, metropolitan areas.
Fairfax County saw 3,890 new jobs announced, followed by Henrico with 1,727, Virginia Beach with 1,046 and Loudoun with 746.
In terms of the number of job announcements, Henry County-Martinsville tied with Arlington County for sixth place. Both had eight announcements.
Fairfax County was first with 55 announcements, followed by Henrico with 21, Virginia Beach with 15, Chesapeake with 12 and Prince William County with 10, according to EDC statistics.
In the region, figures show, Henry County-Martinsville did better than:
• Danville, which had four job announcements reflecting a total of 553 new jobs in 2010.
• Franklin County, which had three job announcements reflecting a total of 254 new jobs.
• Patrick County, which had two job announcements reflecting a total of 165 new jobs.
• Roanoke County, which had four job announcements reflecting a total of 106 new jobs.
• Roanoke city, which had two job announcements reflecting a total of 25 new jobs.
• Pittsylvania County, which had one job announcement reflecting a total of eight new jobs, and
• Halifax County, which had no announcements of new jobs last year.
“We’re the best performing economic development (organization) in the area,” said John Parkinson, vice chairman/treasurer of the EDC.
Henry County-Martinsville’s numbers are “very positive for the community,” Cockram said. But the EDC is not resting on its laurels.
“You take these things with a grain of salt and push forward” to try to recruit more new jobs for a community greatly in need of them, she said.
Parkinson, president and CEO of Drake Extrusion, told the chamber board he thinks the EDC has been successful because it does lots of research, such as to collect demographic data on the area showing prospective companies that this is the right location for them.
He also credited the shell building in the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park for drawing a lot of attention to the community.
Although no company has acquired the building, its presence entices companies to visit the area, Cockram said.
If companies realize the building is not right for them, the EDC can show them other available buildings or help them design a suitable building on vacant land, she said.
The $14.1 million in new local investment by companies last year is notable, Parkinson said, because the EDC’s mission not only is to lure companies that will create jobs but also to increase the local tax bases.
With the EDC’s help, the county and city have attracted 1,949 new jobs and $193,950,000 in new investments during the past five years, Parkinson said. He called the investment level “pretty staggering.”
For the current fiscal year ending June 30, the EDC is to receive $460,500 from Henry County, $339,500 from Martinsville, $1 million from Harvest and $25,000 from C-PEG.
But the EDC is providing the county and city $100,000 each toward their development of Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, a new industrial park off U.S. 220 South near Ridgeway. For that reason, Cockram said, the county’s net funding will be $360,500 and the city’s net funding will be $239,500 for the current fiscal year.
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