May 8, 2011
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Harvest Foundation will continue providing $1 million to the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) for each of the next three years.
Jeffrey Mansour, senior program officer for community vitality with Harvest, said Friday the $3 million, three-year grant continues Harvest’s annual commitment to the EDC. The funds will be used for operational support, such as allowing the EDC to continue promoting the community, community development, different projects and initiatives, support for small business and tourism activities, Mansour said.
“The EDC has achieved great success in helping local industry and attracting new employers to our community. They’ve also implemented innovative tourism and small business programs that are helping to create new opportunities and diversify and strengthen our local economy,” he said in a news release.
On Friday, Mansour said The Harvest Foundation is “really pleased with the work” the EDC has been doing. “It is tough work, especially in this economy,” and the EDC’s success bodes well for the local community, he said.
“This is great news,” said Mark Heath, president/CEO of the EDC. “We’re just grateful the Harvest Foundation board is happy with the work that we’ve been doing and has confidence in our plan going forward.
“We are especially happy they” continue the partnership that funds the EDC, he said. The partnership is made up of Harvest, Martinsville, Henry County and C-PEG, which raises private funds for economic development.
Martinsville is proposed to give the EDC $300,000 in fiscal 2012, $39,500 less than the current years. Henry County has proposed level funding for the EDC in 2012 with the understanding that $100,000 of the county’s total $460,500 contribution be used for debt service (payments) on industrial land purchases. This year, C-PEG gave the EDC $25,000; its funding for fiscal 2012 was not available.
Heath said the partnership allows the EDC to offer a holistic approach to economic development that few communities of similar size “can have working for them,” he said.
For example, if the EDC did not have its level of funding, Heath said “we would not have had the success we’ve been able to have, not just in terms of job creation and tax base,” which is how the agency often is measured, but also in tourism, small business support, travel and the ability to invest in buildings and properties, he said.
“We are extremely grateful, thankful and we hope that we will be able to continue work we’ve been doing. We hope next three years will be better,” he said.
Since the EDC’s creation in 2004, more than 3,600 jobs have been created in Henry County and Martinsville, the release stated.
Other projects that the EDC has initiated, such as shell buildings in the Patriot Center and the development and promotion of Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, “have been instrumental in greatly increasing our community’s competitiveness in the recruitment of businesses to Martinsville-Henry County,” the release stated.
The Harvest Foundation was established in 2002 when Memorial Hospital in Martinsville was sold. It invests the money from that sale and uses the proceeds for local programs and initiatives in the areas of health, education and community vitality.
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